The James Beard Foundation, colloquially known as The Oscars of Food, honors many in the food industry every year. One of those honors is the America's Classics award, bequeathed to restaurants that have "a timeless appeal" (must be open for at least 10 years) and "reflects the character of their community" (locally owned operations only, please).
Well, on January 18, one of five of those timeless recipients is Los Hernandez in Union Gap, Washington.
This eastern Washington spot is small, but has doled out only handmade tamales since 1990. Los Hernandez tamales begin with dried corn milled by hand to make masa, which then swaddle chicken or pork fillings. In the spring and summer, when the local asparagus season is peaking, a pepper jack and asparagus combo emerges.
Owner Felipe Hernandez immigrated from Piedras Negras in Coahuila, Mexico to the Yakima Valley in 1957, working alongside fellow farmworkers in our state's agricultural hub. And praise be that he did. He now runs Los Hernandez with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law. And shout out to his sister, Leocacia Sanchez, whose recipe Hernandez adapted.
You can taste the award-winning tamales for yourself at 3706 Main Street in Union Gap, Washington.
Stay tuned here for more James Beard updates as regional categories and the like are announced in February. All of this year's winners, including Los Hernandez, will be celebrated in May at the awards gala in Chicago.