He’s on the move, again. Claudio Velez has a new home — closer to his customer base in Wicker Park. For the foreseeable future the Tamale Guy will operate out of Bangers & Lace, utilizing the Division Street bar’s kitchen.
Just last month, Velez — now calling his operation, the Authentic Tamale Guy — had debuted along Randolph Restaurant Row in the West Loop. The collaboration with Lone Wolf represented a comeback after a broken partnership led to the closure of a Ukrainian Village restaurant known as Tamale Guy Chicago.
This time, Velez’s departure is amicable. Bangers & Lace is at “epicenter” of his father’s clientele, Osmar Abad Cruz tells Eater Chicago. For more than 20 years, Velez has stopped at taverns around Wicker Park, Bucktown, and West Town, selling his tamales to customers at dive bars in those neighborhoods. Moving from West Loop to Wicker Park makes things easier for Velez and his family. Velez hopes to remain at Bangers & Lace for the next few months as he saves money to eventually open his own restaurant, his son adds.
While Velez will no longer use Lone Wolf’s kitchen, the bar will still sell his tamales, says a spokesperson for the bar’s owners at Heisler Hospitality. The kitchen at Bangers & Lace is larger and can better handle the amount of orders Velez is receiving. Lone Wolf will continue to sell the tamales through the end of the years as planned, the spokesperson adds.
Authentic Tamale Guy, inside Bangers & Lace, 1670 W. Division Street, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday; 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; noon to 3 a.m. Saturday; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday.