Coast Cuisine - March 2020
- Story by Lisa Monti
Papa B’s Tamales & More has been open for just over a year, quietly anchoring one corner of a small building on U.S. 90. It’s the first restaurant that Tammie and Tony Burch have ever operated, though he’s an old hand at making tamales.
Tony Burch had a neighbor in Texas some 30 years ago who made tamales the way her mother had taught her. He so loved the aroma of the tamales being prepared that he talked his neighbor into showing him how to do it.
Tony turned out to be a natural. When the neighbor’s husband asked to try one of Tony’s tamales, he ended up eating a dozen! He convinced Tony they could sell the tamales at a local bingo hall, and on the first night, Tony remembers, they sold 12 dozen in just a few minutes.
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“To make tamales, you have to have a passion for it, especially because it takes a lot of time and effort,” Tony said.
Fortunately for local tamale fans who just want to enjoy the dish, they can get a plate of tamales with the fixings at Papa B’s Tamales & More. You can dine in the small restaurant or fill your tamale craving at the drive-through window.
Actually it was the drive-through window that got Tammie and Tony’s attention when they looked at the space a little over a year ago. They had been making and selling tamales and other items to customers in and around Diamondhead via Facebook and decided to try operating a tamale- and taco-focused restaurant.
When they saw the drive-through at the available spot on Highway 90, that sealed the deal. The Burches say customers love being able to call in their orders and drive through to pick up their meals.
Tony wants everyone to know that Papa B’s is “not fast food and not a Mexican restaurant.” The smallish menu lists spicy and mild made-fresh-daily tamales, along with nachos, burritos, quesadillas and tacos. The tamales, served with house-made chili gravy, come out steaming from their corn husk wrapper. The texture of the pork isn’t too fine or too chunky; it’s somewhere pleasingly in between.
For taco fans, Papa B’s makes the traditional beef version served with lettuce and cheese and also serves a street-style taco on a fried corn shell. The London Broil steak version I had was super tender, spiked with lime and topped with fresh cilantro and onion. You can get a single street-style taco or three to a plate with rice and pinto beans, “cooked to order, nothing canned,” Tammy said. The same is available for the regular tacos, and there’s a chorizo taco that’s very popular. (If you prefer a chicken tamale, you can order in advance.)
Tammie concocted the Mama’s Macho Nachos, which has a bed of chips topped with nacho cheese, chili gravy and bite sized pieces of tamales finished off with shredded cheese. “It’s a meal,” she said.
Chips are served with house-made salsa, not too spicy but with enough of a kick to suit those who like a little heat.
Papa B’s has daily specials including 99-cent tacos in addition to the fresh-made, along with burritos, quesadillas, a taco salad and grilled chicken version. You can also get lettuce wraps with taco, chicken or steak.
To end your meal, or take home for a treat for later, pick up some fresh made pralines, brownies, shortbread cookies and other delicious sweets made locally by Brooke Allen for Papa B’s.
If you’re craving tamales or tacos, check out Papa B’s. Prices are reasonable, with a dozen tamales at the upper end of the scale at $11, a tamale plate for $7.99, and a street-style taco at just $2.50.
Papa B’s Tamales & More
1060 Highway 90
Bay St. Louis
Open Tuesday-Saturday 11 am-7:30 pm