The name is pronounced tlah-oh-lee—as in the Mexican word for “corn.” But if you get it wrong, Tlaolli owner Carlos Hutchinson and his daughter Carla, who also serves as chef at this wee purple takeout spot on the near-east side, won’t hold it against you. Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, two hours from the U.S. border, the Hutchinsons opened their 400-square-foot kitchen in late May, serving dishes like pork carnitas, chicken calabicita goulash, and delicate, fresh tamales wrapped in corn husks. “We started with tamales, but we’ve fallen in love with all the other dishes too,” Carla says. Tlaolli, the Hutchinsons’ first family-owned restaurant, offers catering and prides itself on a healthy cooking approach that replaces the traditional lard with olive oil and uses fresh produce (including zucchini, tomatoes, and avocados) and local meat. Carla says there is a market for healthy Mexican foods. The Molletito, a Mexican pizza, for example, is available in vegetarian form, with soy chorizo in place of pork. Spend the few minutes it takes for your tamale to emerge from the steamer to chat with the Hutchinsons in the lobby-sized dining room decorated in hand-drawn chalk art. And don’t forget your salsa verde on the way out; it’s made with Carlos’s special recipe. 2830 E. Washington St., 410-9507, tlaolli.com
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue.