Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (2817 24th Street) is an iconic business on 24th Street, having withstood the many changes in the neighborhood over the decades, and changing its own menu and identity several times since it opened in the 1920s. The first owner was Dutch, named Roosevelt, and in 1950 it was sold to Juan Carrasco, an immigrant from Jalisco, whose family held onto the business into the twenty-first century. Previous owner Isaac Mejia, who was partnered with Carrasco’s son, recently died in a tragic car accident, and the Roosevelt was for sale again. Partners Aaron Presbrey and chef Barry Moore (a longtime head chef at Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack) took over as of November 1, and they’re only beginning to make changes, including a tweak to the official name, which will be The Roosevelt — though the much loved neon Tamale Parlor sign isn’t going anywhere. Presbrey tells Grub Street that he and Moore were on the hunt for a restaurant space for several years before settling on this one, so they’re now trying to adapt their own ideas to fit them in to the well established restaurant and menu. "We’re preserving the rich history that is The Roosevelt Tamale Parlor and enhancing it with some new and interesting things," he explains.
First off, the existing, 150+-item menu has gotten paired down to the essentials, with tamales still front and center, and your standard Mexican combo plates, etc. And the character of that food won’t change too much, though they are trying to use higher quality ingredients than the previous regime. "The same kitchen staff is back there," Presbrey assures us. But Moore is also tinkering with some of the old dishes, and adding some specials, with a view toward revamping the whole menu by mid-January.
The places has also gotten a new paint job inside, and the big sombrero is gone.
Some new specials include ceviches, a Hatch chile tamale, baby back ribs, and the Caesar salad Moore was known for in the Emmy’s days. Presbrey says they should have menus online and more of a web presence established by next week.