Viva La Tamale Lady!


Collaboration between Megan Wilson and Jet Martinez (painted mural), and Nick Hedlund (painted Indygogo text) in response to request from Supervisor David Campos' office to support Virginia Ramos (AKA the Tamale Lady) and her IndyGoGo campaign to raise money to open liscenced kitchen to sell her tamales.


Viva La Tamale Lady!, Megan Wilson, Jet Martinez, and Nick Hedlund, mural, Clarion Alley Mural Project, 2013.

Back Story for The Mural: 

Virginia Ramos was better known to the people of San Francisco as the beloved Tamale Lady. In early 90s Virginia realized that her day job as a domestic worker cleaning houses was not earning enough money to send her 7 children to college. Virginia learned to make Tamales from her Grandmother when she was growing up in Mexico – so to make extra money she began cooking tamales in her kitchen after her house cleaning work was done. During the evening she would fill an insulated cooler with her delicious tamales and travel from bar to bar selling a hot home cooked meals to hungry folks all over San Francisco. Virginia was often referred to as an angel, a saint, or our Lady of the Tamales not just because she seemed to miraculously appear when nightlife patrons need something to eat the most – but because she was known for her hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and her role as a surrogate grandmother to the people of the Mission – in fact she often wore a t-shirt that said “I don’t know you but I love you.” In early 2013 some of the bars Virginia worked out of were told they could not allow her to sell tamales because she wasn't permitted. Virginia, who turned 60 in 2013, stopped selling tamales to the community she loved. 

After meeting with District 9 Supervisor David Campos and other City departments and with pro bono help from Barbary Coast Consulting, Virginia decided that it was time to take her business to the next level! The Tamale Lady announced that she would raise the money to open up a brick and mortar “Tamale Lady” restaurant in The Mission. And she needed our help! 

To support Virginia's campaign we painted the Viva La Tamale Lady! mural with the link to her Indygogo campaign to help her raise the money to realize her vision! She met her goal by the end of 2013!!

Sadly, Virginia died in September, 2018. She and her tamales are missed by many.