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Central Coast Living: 5th Annual Tamale Festival promises tasty weekend in Atascadero

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jan 16, 2020

Central Coast living provides delicious opportunities for food. This weekend, a tradition now entering its fifth year means more tamale styles than you could dream up.

Over at Garcia's Mexican Restaurant in Atascadero, Carlos Garcia knows what it takes to make good food.

"We've been around for 25 years," he said. "It's a whole family business."

When we paid him a visit this week, it was almost a wrap on prep for the upcoming 5th Annual Tamale Festival set for this weekend where more than 30,000 tamales will be gobbled up.

"We have my mom making tamales, my wife, everybody is just making a lot of tamales."

This year plans to be the biggest yet, extending two days both Friday and Saturday with food and events filled with Mexican culture.

"Mexican food goes good with everything," Garcia smiled.

When the event was cooked up more than five years ago, the goal by the City of Atascadero was to make the Tamale Festival self-sustaining and become a staple to the calendar.

"This was an opportunity for us to get residents out of their homes, to come down and enjoy our events. And also to get folks who are visiting, and get county residents just to come over to see what Atascadero is doing," Terrie Banish said, City of Atascadero Deputy City Manager. "We have a variety of tamales, vegan, vegetarian, you name it we got it."

For Carlos and his family, there is real pride to show off their recipes.

"There is just a flavor in it. Everything is made with fresh [ingredients]."

The taste of Garcia's Restaurant comes from Mexico City and the family will share that with visitors who will descend on the Central Coast from around the state to get a taste.

The work has brought home some hefty hardware with a number of trophies from the past Tamale Festivals for best in show.

Garcia will be looking to defend the titles. The Tamale Festival will also highlight the strong Mexican culture found along the Central Coast and in Atascadero.

"The food just brings people together," Garcia said. "You have a taco, it makes you happy. The whole idea of Mexican food, I love it."

The event begins at 5 p.m. Friday and goes until 10. On Saturday, the fun begins at 11 a.m. and wraps up at 5 p.m.

You can learn more at the Tamale Festival website here.