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New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

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New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby Uncle_Leaver » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:44 pm

The Four Star Family Restaurant (intersection of Milwaukee St. and 51) has been notoriously spotty for years. It's perhaps the only restaurant I've ever walked out of for inattentive service (left my $ on the table for the coffee I was served after about 20 minutes of waiting for the waitress to return ... and the place was not exactly busy). It appears all that has changed.

Went there for breakfast the weekend before last because their sign advertised new management. Had the kids with us, so we sampled a few different breakfast items. All good, nothing terribly fancy but perfectly in keeping with the family restaurant demo. But the thing that set them apart? The owner, who waited on us, must be a mind reader because he asked me if I liked tamales. Indeed I do.

His mother makes them from scratch. Three different kinds (red and green -- both pork, and an awesome jalepeño & cheese variety). They're awesome. And apparently, if you call ahead you can order them by the dozen for takeout. Not sure about the lunch or dinner menu, but I plan to give them sufficient biz to check both out since it's in my 'hood. The owner tells me he and his father (who was also working the kitchen) have cooked Italian for years, so it sounded as though that would be the specialty in addition to some Latin dishes (he specifically mentioned pozole).

Sounded like they were still getting the menu hammered out, but this place is definitely worth a visit if you're looking for someplace casual and low key -- and especially if you're a fan of fresh tamales. The owner is very friendly and enthusiastic and I hope he can make a go of it, because I've thought for years what a waste it is to have such mediocre joints occupying what would seem to be an ideal location for such a place.
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:25 am

You've got to be a happy camper, what with Pelayo's being gone and all.

Funny--I was just talking about this place with the wife on Monday. Maybe this thread will be enough to bump it onto the Eats list?
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby barney » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:29 am

So, do you have to call ahead, or can you just walk in and get some for carry-out? Are they only available on certain days / times?
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby c02 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:20 am

Pelayo's may be gone but another name has taken over (Habenero's?). I actually ate there last week.
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:35 am

c02 wrote:Pelayo's may be gone but another name has taken over (Habenero's?). I actually ate there last week.

You got it--but they're more of a taqueria/burrito place than Pelayo's was, and I don't think they do tamales. Could be wrong.
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby c02 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:47 am

Yeah....they don't do much and it seems everything is under $6. In fact I seem to remember a lot of the prices being identical. As small as their menu is, I wouldn't be surprised if there are ample requests for tamales that they wouldn't/couldn't add it to the menu.

Back to Four Star, I can't help but reminisce when it was Country Kitchen and there was no overpass. I can actually reminisce further than that but then I'll just feel old.
Last edited by c02 on Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby Taco » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:15 pm

I am in contract negotiations to be making an appearance at this place as well. There is no reason for the University Ave corridor to be serving me exclusively, right?
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby Uncle_Leaver » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:22 pm

barney wrote:So, do you have to call ahead, or can you just walk in and get some for carry-out? Are they only available on certain days / times?

They're available Saturdays and Sundays (mornings anyway, as it's possible they sell out). You could try just walking in to get some for carryout, but the owner suggested calling ahead -- and he may have even meant a day ahead, which is how I'll do it, I think. His mother makes something like 20 dozen of them the night before, some of which get delivered to family (now that's a family restaurant for you). I suspect they'll make more if they know in advance there's going to be demand for them in bulk.

TheBookPolice wrote:You got it--but they're more of a taqueria/burrito place than Pelayo's was, and I don't think they do tamales. Could be wrong.

You're correct. Habanero's has a pretty set and simple menu. No tamales there, although I'm actually something of a fan of the place, for what it is. Wish the chicken were shredded instead of chopped, is all.

The tamales at Four Star are easily on a par with the ones Pelayo's used to serve, which were the best I'd encountered in town till now (with the possible exception of those made by the mother of one of my wife's former students -- I really miss those).
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby CoffeeJones » Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:26 pm

Uncle_Leaver wrote:You're correct. Habanero's has a pretty set and simple menu. No tamales there, although I'm actually something of a fan of the place, for what it is. Wish the chicken were shredded instead of chopped, is all.


I'm a regular, since they are practically around the corner from my office, and I'm with you on the chicken, Leaver. The barbacoa is outstanding, though, and I love the fact that they usually have ice cold bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola. Has anyone tried the horchata?
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content!)

Postby Petro » Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:31 pm

The horchata at Habenero's is alright - perfectly serviceable, but nothing exactly stellar. It's the perfect thing to chase their habanero salsa, though - so long as it's not been weakened since my last visit.

Weekend tamales from Four Star combined with carnitas at Pan y Pan would be an amazing meal. (Or series of meals, as I'd always buy extra carnitas and eat them for several meals.)
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Re: New life for Four Star Family Restaurant (tamale content

Postby workboy7 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:02 pm

I've been a fan of Four Star for years, always enjoyed the "family diner" style with great consistency too. It was one of the few places that could deliver on a decent steak and eggs breakfast. I've always had good service there as well....and I do love tamales, so out with the old, I guess!
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