Satisfied appetites are served up at Tino’s Tamales and More
By Christopher Nagy
Hungry residents throughout the Great Lakes Bay region owe a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Maria Garcia’s daughter.
Garcia, who owns Tino’s Tamales and More in Saginaw with partner Rudy Rodriguez, never intended to run a popular and award-winning business for those hankering for their fix of Mexican fare. She just wanted to be a good mom.
“Way before I ever had an establishment, I started making tamales out of my home to raise funds for my daughter’s Sweet 16 party,” Garcia said. “I just sold them to friends and family, and it took off from there. The people who I sold them to just kept calling back and ordering them. I said, ‘OK, this might be something.’ ”
One month and several thousand dollars later, her daughter had an awesome 16th birthday shindig and Garcia had a new business venture. She initially began selling the tamales at a local farmers market from a booth that had one prep table and one burner before eventually settling into a storefront establishment in the Riverfront Plaza, Tino’s Tamale Hut, which could be considered a sit-down restaurant because it had two entire booths. Two years later, the business got the treatment that it deserved – and that customers demanded – when it moved into a much more spacious former Coney island on the city’s west side.
“As I’ve done this more and more over the years, I’ve just kept improving,” Garcia said. “I think I’ve finally mastered it.”
Response validates that statement. Tino’s Tamales and More is a five-time winner of the area’s annual Tamale Taste-Off competition, and Garcia is always looking to up her game with new creations such as deep-friend tamales, the fire tamale and the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos tamale. She’s even made a few custom tamales out of venison for hunters.
“I’m always working on new inventions and new flavors,” Garcia said. “If you want it, I can make it for you.”
There’s just one thing you shouldn’t ask Garcia to do with her tamales: eat one.
“I don’t even like tamales. I’ve made them too much. I’m tamaled out,” she said with a laugh.
Tino’s Tamales and More is at 1841 N. Michigan Ave. in Saginaw. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call (989) 755-0322 or visit facebook.com/tinostamalehut/.
Anything Under the Sun
More than 20 different varieties of tamales are served up – from beef, pork and chicken to cheese, rice and bean, and vegan offerings.
You Said a Mouthful
Tino’s Tamales and More plans to hold a tamale-eating contest in June with a top prize of $500.
Tamale on the Go
Tino’s Tamales and More offers catering and works with Grubhub. They can even overnight air deliver tamales to your door.