Virginia Ramos, aka the Tamale Lady, is an institution, wheeling her chest of treats wrapped in steamed corn husks. The cheer at the Eagle beer bust when she rolls up around 6 to feed the burly dudes who've downed eight beers in three hours resembles a war whoop, which is maybe why she's having her 60th birthday there on June 21. There was talk of an app for tracking her down. If there were an S.F. Mount Rushmore, the Tamale Lady would be Teddy Roosevelt.
Except she got kicked out of Zeitgeist. Because we live in a dystopia that hates queso y pollo.
Technically, it is illegal for outside vendors to sell food at a food-and-drink establishment, even if the owner okays it. But as with jaywalking or dumping biodegradable scraps in your black bin, enforcement has been, shall we say, selective, and the Tamale Lady has mostly operated under the radar until now. We'll see if other joints crack down on her.
The irony of getting the boot from Zeitgeist is not lost on us. She may well have been ejected for health code reasons, but the punk rock bar where Obeying the Rules is paramount could have also given her the heave-ho for standing on a bench, taking a selfie, receiving an unopened bottle of something as a gift from a fan, etc., etc.
A Facebook post from Zeitgeist on June 12 said that the eviction was "forced on us by SF city codes and regulations." The San Francisco Department of Public Health has said that to sell her tamales legally, Ramos needs a catering permit and commercial kitchen to work from.
In the meantime, culinary incubator La Cocina has offered Ramos a spot in its commercial kitchen to use, and District 9 Supervisor David Campos and others are working on finding a solution to keep the tamales flowing to drunk, hungry Missionites.