The Tamale Company’s name doesn’t tell the whole story.

While the business started as a tamale-only operation out of a catering kitchen in Southlake, co-owner Elizabeth Plimmer-Fernandez says that in more than 10 years since its inception, the menu has grown to include a range of nostalgic Mexican cuisine. And it’s all ready-to-eat at their new brick-and-mortar location in Duncanville.

The Tamale Co. sells tamales across the Dallas area at numerous pop-up locations, groceries and farmers markets as well as through their tamale-cart catering, porch delivery and online shipping orders. This latest venture turned their catering kitchen into a bodega at 626 S. Cedar Ridge Road in Duncanville.

Plimmer-Fernandez says the bodega was a solution to offset a downturn in catering orders due to the pandemic and provide the community with home-cooked “grab-and-go” meals.

“During the pandemic, we want to enjoy our job as much as we want people to enjoy the food. It’s just hard times, it’s a new sense of life for a lot of people, so we’re trying to figure it out,” Plimmer says. “If I have the opportunity to create an environment that I enjoy working in, that I can create food that people are going to enjoy, that’s going to be a better experience for the consumer and for myself.”

The front of their long-time catering space originally served as offices, but with some rearranging and additional furnishings, Plimmer-Fernandez reinvented it for a July 13 opening.

“If people are uncomfortable with coming into big stores or going to restaurants, we provide a ‘medium ground’ for people where they can get dinner in a small atmosphere, take it home and have a well-cooked meal,” she says.

Unlike The Tamale Co.’s other ventures, the bodega doesn’t follow a set menu. Pozole, fiesta chicken soup, brisket gorditas, sopa de fideo and sour cream chicken enchiladas are just a few selections that have made it to the ever-changing menu, all made in-house and from scratch. Recipes are either longstanding family recipes (such as Plimmer’s mother-in-law’s mole and pipian sauce) or the result of brainstorming sessions, where Plimmer says the family gathers around dog-eared cookbooks and concocts new recipe ideas.

“Everything in the kitchen, like everything else we do here, is us,” Plimmer says. “It’s a family affair.”

While Plimmer is originally from Duncanville, she and her husband, co-owner Israel Fernandez, grew up in Oak Cliff, attending Tyler Street Christian Academy and W.H. Adamson, respectively. While her Duncanville roots and the area’s affordability are what led The Tamale Co. to set up shop there, Plimmer believes their business is a welcome addition to the area.

“Here I’m able to provide something that I think people here don’t have,” Plimmer says. “I think that’s our number one thing. We have people saying ‘this is so nice, we need this.’ I think this area is craving it.”

The Tamale Co. Bodega