It’s not uncommon for people in Provo to have someone knock on their door. When they open it, there’s Emanuel Martinez asking if they would like to buy some tamales. Emanuel and his family run a unique business where they go right to your doorstep selling tamales.
According to Andrew Lyman, who has bought tamales from Emanuel, the “tamale man” is well known in Provo.
“We enjoy him coming around. Pretty familiar face, pretty friendly guy, pretty well known amongst everybody here. He’s a pretty quiet guy, pretty humble, pretty laid back, very polite. Very, very honest, very easy going,” Lyman said.
Emanuel and his family are from Puebla, Mexico. They moved to Provo about 10 years ago and started making tamales at home to make ends meet while settling into their new life, but they ended up creating a thriving business.
“I cook tamales every day, and we’re selling tamales we just sell in the afternoon evening. Tamales is so good, yeah. I like food,” Emanuel said.
The family opened the Rincón Poblano restaurant a year and a half ago, where they make the tamales from start to finish. Emanuel and his mother, Sylvia Martinez, stuff corn husks with masa dough and either chicken or pork filling. The restaurant delivers a whopping 260 tamales every day.
“It’s a family business. It’s, um, traditional food. Authentic,” Sylvia Martinez said.
It’s indeed a family business, as Sylvia’s husband, Miguel Hernandez cooks beans and other food. Their daughter Michelle Hernandez cleans, serves and helps manage the logistics. The restaurant is secondary — their main business is still delivering tamales.
Emanuel said one thing he loves about his job is making friends with customers.
“Making friends that’s, that’s amazing yeah,” Emanuel said.
Michelle and Sylvia said the family loves working together and getting to be their own bosses.
“My family and me, we are so healthy. We are so happy because this is a good job, that people like so much Mexican food,” Sylvia said.
The family strives to bring authentic Mexican food to Provo.
“That was like the whole concept of this restaurant to just have something more authentic that people go to like, I know this dish and yeah, that’s how it’s done,” Michelle said.
Lyman said they are accomplishing this objective.
“When I had his tamales, it was kind of, uh, reminded me of home a bit, reminded me of some childhood foods I had growing up,” Lyman said.