Masa and Milestones: El Cholo's Original Green Corn Tamales Return for the 100th Time

The beloved dish, a limited-time offering, is part of the restaurant's big centennial year.

El Cholo

What to Know

  • El Cholo, the beloved Mexican restaurant, is celebrating 100 years in 2023
  • Several special events and offerings have popped up in recent months, including the celebratory renaming of Western Avenue and 11th Street, which is now Alejandro and Rosa Borquez Square
  • The green corn tamales will be available at all six El Cholo locations from May 1 through Oct. 31, 2023.

While many Southern Californians devote a Saturday in December to the creation of tamales — many, many tamales, with the hope of enjoying them over the Christmas holidays and throughout the winter months — other tamale-obsessed locals keep their eye on springtime.

For that's the season when El Cholo's gorgeous green corn tamales traditionally make their delicious comeback, with green corn that arrives from Central America at the start of the dish's annual run.

Later in the summer? The icon's central ingredient hails from the United States.

And once summer is done and fall is in full flower? The green corn tamale season has concluded, so be sure to visit your closest El Cholo by Oct. 31, when the final dishes will be served.

The first 2023 date to find El Cholo's green corn tamales, which are about to enjoy their 100th season?

It's May 1, just a few days ahead of Cinco de Mayo, which is always a festive occasion at all El Cholo locations.

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The restaurant company has been honoring its centennial for several months now, with a number of special events popping up, from savory savings to city-led ceremonies.

People who are 100 years old or older may enjoy complimentary dining at El Cholo all year long, while "A Taste of History" items, served on a commemorative plate, are appearing throughout 2023 to honor some of the restaurant's best-known offerings of yesteryear. (The plate may be purchased separately.)

And March 30 saw something particularly special happen just outside the original Western Avenue location: The corner of Western Avenue and 11th Street was renamed Alejandro and Rosa Borquez Square.

Rosa Borquez was honoring a multi-generational family recipe when she began making green corn tamales during El Cholo's earliest days in 1923.

They've proven to be a savory sensation over the years, with devoted customers anticipating their warm-weather engagement.

"Our green corn tamales have long been hand-crafted — we all know the recipe and none of us are ever going to change it," shared El Cholo owner Ron Salisbury, a grandchild of the company's founders.

The beloved tamales "... are one of the greatest tools by which we've been able to both honor our ancestors' traditions while also bonding with our customers for 100 years."

"All seven of my children, at one time in their lives as a right of passage, have made Green Corn Tamales for El Cholo guests during their summer vacations!"

As for the secret to preparing this colorful comida sabrosa? El Cholo shared how the tamales are made:

"El Cholo's cooks shuck fresh green corn, cut off the kernels, grind them, then whip the results with butter, cream and a dash of sugar."

"After adding in a bit of cornmeal, the ingredients are converted into a light, creamy mass — portions are then formed into six-inch-long fluffy mounds filled with aged, year-old, yellow cheddar cheese (which comes from a special farm in Wisconsin) and Ortega chiles."

"Each is then wrapped in a green corn husk, tied with string, and steamed."

Delicious description, a delicious dish, and a tasty tradition that so many Southern Californians anticipate, year after year.

Find out more about green corn tamale season, which begins May 1 at all El Cholo locations, now.

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