Masa Master

A Kickstarter campaign ends with tamales

In the Kickstarter Video that Alicia Villanueva made to raise funds for her tamal cart, which debuted last week at Justin Herman Plaza, the heroine, wearing fuchsia lipstick, cooks one of her signature chicken tamales.

The Mazatlán, Mexico, native, a graduate of La Cocina's incubator program, gives the wrapped masa parcel a pat, as though tucking it into bed, then says, "It's my baby." Needless to say, the money came rolling in.

Villanueva is now in possession of the city's only legal tamal cart, donated by San Jose-based fabricator Metal Gourmet. From it, she sells four varieties of tamales.

Fluffy masa (sadly, lard-free) encloses the fillings–the aforementioned chicken, shredded and combined with carrots, peas, zucchini and potatoes, which Villanueva considers her specialty; ropy strands of beef, paired with salsa roja; a mellow cheese-filled tamal with green peppers and salsa verde; a vegetarian version with bell peppers and olives; and a pork tamal with salsa chipotle (all $3).

The limited menu also includes a daily soup and dessert, including a silken flan.

We know what you're thinking: What else can we Kickstart for lunch?

Alicia Tamales Los Mayas SF, Justin Herman Plaza, 1 Market St.; aliciatamaleslosmayas.com