A guest carries tamales and chicharones to a nearby seat. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Tamales returned to The Pearl in tasty fashion on Saturday and brought thousands of San Antonians from all over the city. Almost every kind of tamale you can think of was present and accounted for, even specialty vegetarian and dessert tamales were to be had.

Chef Johnny Hernandez poses for a photo with a luchador in front of El Machito tamale stand. Photo by Scott Ball.
Chef Johnny Hernandez poses for a photo with a luchador in front of El Machito tamale stand. Photo by Scott Ball.

Local chef and restauranteur Johnny Hernandez, owner of La Gloria, was part of the original inspiration for what has become an event of epic proportions. The annual Tamales! Holiday Festival started out as a side note to the Pearl Brewery’s farmers market in 2010. Now the festival takes over the mixed-use complex, closing the farmers market to make room for all the tamales.

“I remember sitting in a room with the folks at Pearl who wanted to create a community event for San Antonio here at Pearl. Tamales were that one thing that we felt as a community everybody was familiar with and it speaks about our holidays,” he said.

Everyone was in high spirits and the fresh smell of tamales filled the air and left everybody craving more.  The longest line of all was actually not a tamale stand, the fresh squeezed lemonade stand had them beat, one of only a handful of dedicated beverage booths.

When asked about the future of this annual event Johnny said, “It’s hard to imagine how big this event can scale up to without losing it’s intended purpose.  Pearl will do everything they can to keep it feeling original.”

Scroll through the photo gallery above to get a taste of the festivities.

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Three Takeaways from Tamales! at Pearl

Tamales at Pearl: A San Antonio Tradition

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Pearl Adding Sunday Farmers Market

Scott Ball

Scott Ball is San Antonio Report's photo editor and grew up in San Antonio.