Carmen Valera

Boss Lady & Tamalera, Tamale House East

Carmen is passionately in love with food and cocktails – she will be the first to tell you. In the same breath, she will proudly tell you that she is a food aficionada, not a classically trained chef.

A native East Austinite, it was inevitable that Valera would become a restaurateur and a champion in preserving East Austin and its culinary traditions. Her destiny was written in the trail of corn husks and potato sacks she and her siblings slept upon as children, while their grandmother and mother bustled around them in the original, iconic family-owned and operated Tamale House.

That original location, owned by her grandparents Moses and Carmen (her namesake), begat it all. Years later, the Valeras were faced with an ultimatum: rent out 1707 E. Sixth for big bucks or commit to the family’s legacy and use the space for a restaurant. At that moment, the fourth generation of Carmen, Juan, Jose, Robert and Colombina, banded together to reincarnate the tamale empire.

Tamale House East opened during SXSW 2012 and proved to be a success.

Since then, as the city of Austin has grown and changed, Tamale House East has gained recognition as an unwavering pillar of the community and a living breathing snapshot of the past. Known for their iconic tamales, fish tacos, chipotle migas and welcoming ambience, Tamale House East has been featured in publications throughout the nation, including Bon Appétit, Texas Monthly, USA Today, Go Travel, Southern Living Magazine and The Guardian.

Carmen is an advocate for preserving culinary traditions and her family’s business. She is a self-taught and determined businesswoman, who is innovative and always up to a challenge. With homes in Austin and New Orleans, she manages the brand’s menu, marketing, social media, special events, catering, deliveries…and, yes, she will even wash the dishes.