The dining room is inviting enough, with space for about two dozen diners. Papel picado flags stenciled with the restaurant’s name and logo — a steaming pot of tamales — are strung across the ceiling. By the front door, script written in LED neon over a patch of artificial greenery spells out, “live love eat tamales.”Yet almost all of Evelia’s customers at that hour make straight for the takeout counter, as they do more or less the minute the doors open at 5 a.m. Many of them are men dressed in work clothes and steel-toed boots powdered with construction dust. They arrive in pickups and cargo vans that they parked outside on Northern Boulevard, dodging the dented cars that weave in and out of the bays of the auto-body shop across the road in a ballet of crumpled metal. Within a few minutes they climb back into their vehicles carrying bags loaded with breakfast and, chances are, lunch.
Photographed for The New York Times, with words by Pete Wells.Restaurant Review: Evelia’s Tamales, a Sidewalk Standby, Comes in From the Streets
The celebrated Queens food cart finds a storefront space, and the food is still just as good.