Tamales maker in Richmond unveils secret ingredient

Cruz Arroyo of Richmond's Tamales Tamazula provides secret ingredient
Cruz Arroyo of Richmond's Tamales Tamazula, located in the parking lot of Veterans Memorial Hall on 23rd Street in Richmond. (Photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

Asked on camera for the secret ingredient to making delicious tamales, Cruz Arroyo’s answer was both coy and true.

“This is the secret my mom gave me…when you do something, you do your very best,” Arroyo said. “That is the secret!”

He smiled as he said it. And yet, Arroyo declares proudly that all of the success of his family’s popular Richmond pop up, Tamales Tamazula, is indeed owed to his mother Noemi.

For the last six years, the tamales stand has operated in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Hall at 23rd and Lincoln streets. Noemi and Cruz work together to prep and cook the tamales.

“My mother showed me how to use and prepare all of the ingredients to make the best tamales anywhere,” Cruz said. The secret is letting your hard work speak for itself, he said.

The family business is named Tamazula after his family’s hometown of Tamazula in the State of Jalisco in Mexico. It offers chicken and pork tamales along with sweet corn, with each of the tamales costing $2.50. 

His favorite part of being in business is not the tamales, but the people who come and say hello over a love of tamales.

Tamales Tamazula is open from 7 am to 11 am on Wednesday through Sunday weekly. To place orders call Cruz at (510) 672-5858.