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A Decades-Old Queens Street Cart Takes Its Tamales to Manhattan

Evelia’s Tamales, a cornerstone of the Queens street vending community, heads to the High Line this month

Yellow and red tamales, made with pineapple and raisin, respectively, bask on a stainless steel tray.
The new cart will sell tamales for $3 each, double what they cost in Queens.
Clay Williams/Eater NY

A third location of Evelia’s Tamales will open on the High Line Park later this month, the first time the tamale shop will maintain a presence outside of Queens in two decades. John Garcia, the shop’s manager, says the business submitted an application to operate from the public park, at West 22nd Street, earlier this year. The first day is Tuesday, June 20, and the cart will operate through October.

Evelia Coyotzi, the shop’s owner, started the business as a sidewalk stand in Corona, Queens, in 2001, after the McDonald’s she was working at near the World Trade Center closed following 9/11. Since then, it’s become known for its tamales made with salsa verde and mole, which can be eaten out of their husks with a fork or wedged between slices of bread for the Mexican sandwich known as a guajolota. In 2017, it appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.

The new cart, called Antojitos Evelia, will sell tamales with salsa verde, poblano pepper and cheese, and mole for $3 each, double what they cost in Queens. Its name refers to the Spanish word for the snacks sold from markets and street stands in Mexico. In addition to tamales, there will be Mexican street corn, in cups and on the cob, and the fruit juices known as aguas frescas. Opening hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The owners see the cart as a way to expand beyond tamales, which are often eaten for breakfast. Last year, Coyotzi opened a restaurant in East Elmhurst with tacos, tortas, and enchiladas. It stays open until 10 p.m. The larger platform caught the attention of state representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the New York Times food critic Pete Wells, but Garcia says the restaurant has been pigeon-holed as a breakfast spot.

“We even thought about changing the name,” says Garcia, Coyotzi’s son. “We’re fighting to get people here after noon.”

Update: June 14, 2023, 9:33 a.m.: This article was updated with the new opening date for Antojitos Evelia. The opening is now on Tuesday, June 20.