By Central Staff
Dorothy’s Homemade Tamales
Fairplay, CO 80440
Dorothy (Montoya) Russell has been making tamales all of her life, and that’s saying something. Dorothy is 74 years old and learned to make the traditional Mesoamerican dish from her grandmother while growing up in Denver.
In 1994, after preparing and selling the traditional delicacies out of her home kitchen in Hartsel, Colorado, she and her husband Stan started bringing them to the local flea market. Soon they were selling fresh and frozen tamales in a variety of locations around Hartsel, including a semi-trailer complete with kitchen that Stan built.
Then came their big break: Dorothy’s Tamales were featured in an episode on the Food Network Channel called, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate/Under Wraps,” and they were soon offered the opportunity to run the kitchen at the South Park Bowl in Fairplay, an opportunity they jumped at. Beginning in May 2011, diners could enjoy a buffalo tamale smothered in red or green chile while tossing a few balls down the lanes.
Dorothy, along with her longtime assistant, Pam Pendland, can crank out anywhere from 400 to 600 tamales a day, which are served in the restaurant or frozen for takeout.
A favorite of locals and travelers alike, Dorothy’s is unpretentious and the food is simple. Besides tamales, diners can order tater tots, chili cheese fries, corn dogs, happy face pancakes and a full breakfast menu.
They feature seven types of tamales from mild to hot, veggie to buffalo, smothered or not. They also serve burritos, nachos, chili and appetizers, including the ever-popular deep fried spicy pickle. Beer and wine are on the menu as well as mixed drinks, so you can drink and dine while you bowl.
The town of Fairplay recently recognized Dorothy and Stan Russell by awarding them the True Pioneer Award in December 2013 for their contributions to the community.
Whether you want to knock down some pins or enjoy a handmade tamale, Dorothy’s is worth a visit.
Update: Dorothy’s Tamales are now being served out of KB’s Kakery & Dorothy’s Tamales, at 331 US Hwy 285 B, Fairplay, CO 80440 (719-838-2533), just across from and next to the Prather’s grocery store.