Israel Veliz dreams of a tamale factory in Hunts Point, Bronx: A factory that can produce 10,000 tamales a day, shipped all over the city, supplying coffee carts and street vendors, as well as franchises that rival the numbers of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts in the five boroughs. For now, Veliz has City Tamale, his restaurant in Hunts Point that serves hundreds of the bus and truck drivers, scrapyard dealers, mechanics, and the workers at the largest wholesale produce market in the world.

Veliz was born in the U.S. He moved to Mexico with his family, where he lived for a decade, before coming back to the U.S., by himself, at 15. He worked at McDonald's, bussed tables, became a server, tended bar, and enrolled at Baruch College as a business major. Three years ago, his mother came to New York, and he started cooking tamales alongside her, and selling them out of his apartment kitchen near Yankee Stadium.

“Moms have knowledge that nobody else does. They just do things in a way that tastes better,” Veliz said last week at City Tamale.

He incorporated his business, taught himself Photoshop, and created the logo for his restaurant, discovering the location for City Tamale during one of his 5 a.m. grocery runs at Hunts Point market.

Hunts Point operates at different hours, and with a different intensity, than the rest of the city. It comes alive at 10 p.m., when the vast wholesale market opens, and quiets down in the late afternoon. City Tamale opens for breakfast at 5:30 a.m., and by 6:30, roughly 400 school bus drivers, whose bus lot is around the corner, have already dropped in for tamales, sweet bread, champurrado, and coffee.

“We know a lot of our customers,” Veliz said. “They come here every day, most of them we know them by name. We know how they like their coffee, how they drink their tea, or if they like spicy food.”

He makes all of his tamales twice a week, mixing the masa, soaking the corn husks, making the filling, and assembling hundreds of tamales. From the freezer, they go straight to the steam basket and are cooked for an hour and a half, then ready to be sold. I tried the pork, chicken, and rajas tamales. The meat was tender and the salsas were bright and fresh; the flavors complementing each other well within the corn masa.

“Tamales fit well into this type of neighborhood," Veliz explained. "Tamales are ready. People who work in this neighborhood don’t really have time to wait 30 minutes for something, they come and they want to go, so our food works really well." The same could be said of breakfast culture in Midtown, Wall Street, downtown Brooklyn, and many other neighborhoods. It’s what keeps coffee carts and fruit stands and bagel shops alive, and Veliz wants to see tamales, specifically his tamales, as another option grab and go option around the city.

For years, chefs have embraced the trend of taking street food and “elevating” it in their restaurants. Tamales are a common street food in many parts of Latin America, but Veliz takes a different path. He wants his tamales to rule the streets of New York, to get New Yorkers to eat them the way they eat bagels or a slice of pizza.

I met him last Wednesday, on one of his tamale making days, after the restaurant had closed. Michael Galindo, who has worked with Veliz for years, began scraping the masa into the corn husks and laying them flat. Once he finished, he would assemble them with pork and chicken, 300 of each, and then freeze them for the next day. (Click through on the photos for a look at the process.)

“People thought we were crazy. Tamales were mostly done by moms and ladies. Then you have two kids, I was 24 at that time, he was 20, making tamales,” Veliz said, of him and Galindo. People would call them ‘tamaleros’ as a way of teasing them. “But now we are the tamaleros! I had to own the name."

City Tamale is located at 1316 Oak Point Avenue in the Bronx. It's open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays.