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Cheeseburger Tamales a Hit at New Pilsen Eatery

By Chloe Riley | April 23, 2013 10:08am | Updated on April 23, 2013 3:35pm

PILSEN — A cheeseburger-flavored tamale captured the hearts of Pilsen-ites over the weekend.

The Juicy Lucy, with homemade special sauce, was one of the most popular of the alternative tamales offered at Dia De Los Tamales, according to co-owner Jeni Wahl.

“We had a lot of people that were really excited. There were a lot of people who came in and just ordered one of everything,” she said.

At $3 a pop, Buffalo Chicken, Black Bean and Corn, and Atomic Pork tamales also were flying out of the shop.

Dia De Los Tamales, at 939 W. 18th St., is co-owned by Wahl, her husband Sam Wahl and their friend, chef Keith Carlson.

Before they got into tamales, Sam and Jeni Wahl both were in the music business. Sam plays guitar and performs with the band Wives of Eli, and Jeni used to market bands.

Eventually, along with Carlson, they started Get Off the Couch, a monthly concert that was originally held at Villains Bar in the same building as the Wahls’ apartment. (It's now held at The Ace Bar, 1505 W. Fullerton Ave.)

Jeni Wahl soon found herself feeding hungry musicians, which led the trio to start Get Off the Couch Catering.

So now, while they sling tamales in the front of the shop, the back serves as Get Off the Couch's prep space.

Dia De Los Tamales will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The shop’s grand opening, complete with ribbon-cutting, will be May 10 for Pilsen 2nd Fridays.

“It was amazing. It was such a great feeling for the three of us to be able to open the doors,” Wahl said. “We love Pilsen so much.”