Virginia Ramos, aka the Tamale Lady, serves guests at her 60th birthday party at the Eagle Bar.

Virginia Ramos, also known as the Tamale Lady, died Thursday at San Francisco General Hospital, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. Ramos was 65 and a resident of the Mission.

The cause of her death is unclear at this time.

Ramos earned cult celebrity status selling her tamales at popular watering holes in the Mission, especially Zeitgeist. She would roll her cart of tamales around, serving the sober, tipsy and dangerously inebriated alike.

In an interview with KQED, Ramos said she was born June 26, 1953, to a single mother and, according to the Chronicle, she was born in Jalisco, Mexico. She told KQED that she would sell tamales at a church she and her grandmother would attend. “This is when I learned about cooking tamales,” she said, noting that she learned by observing.

In 2013, the city barred her from selling her tamales at Zeitgeist, and she had since faded into the background as she assembled plans to open a permanent space on 16th Street. That was slated to open earlier this year, but was held up by the city’s permitting process.

Mission Local reported in 2014 that Ramos actually owned a four-unit property on 24th Street and had a difficult time maintaining the building. The Mission Economic Development Agency said she had been a victim of predatory lending.

“When I get the loan, all of this is going to be solved,” Ramos said in August 2014, in reference to the business loan she was seeking to open her tamale restaurant on 16th Street.

News spread quickly of her death on Friday, as San Francisco die-hards took to social media to mourn and show their support for Ramos.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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