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Beloved Tamale and Birria Pop-Up Juana Tamale to Open a Brick-And-Mortar

After years of cooking her distinctive and in-demand Mexican cuisine as a pop-up, chef Jennifer Zavala will open a permanent space this fall

birria tacos on a griddle by Juana Tamale Juana Tamale

Everyone who has waited out lines at Underground Arts or tried to catch that iconic graffitied tamale van just to get a taste of chef Jennifer Zavala’s famous birria tacos and tamales can rejoice: Zavala’s pop-up Juana Tamale is getting a brick-and-mortar this fall.

Zavala, who is also a former Top Chef contestant and cannabis activist, pivoted from her tamale van to cooking out of the kitchen at music venue Underground Arts on Callowhill Street, making birria tacos and ramen, tamales, and churros. On Friday, Zavala announced that the days of Juana Tamale pop-ups are over, and her locally beloved cooking will be on display three days a week and every other Sunday at 1941 East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. She hopes to open the restaurant — where she will serve vegan birria, tortas, tamales, and more — this September.

“It feels like freedom!!!” Zavala tells Eater of her new permanent home. “I wont be rich but I will be free of the bullshit that comes with making money for other people to take vacations. South Philly is home. Cant wait to terrorize it more.”