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tamales anywhere in N.C.

  • t

About a year ago I posted a question about the availability of tamales in the Charlotte area, and received nothing back, as I had feared. Now I will cast my net more broadly and ask if anyone knows of authentic, corn husk wrapped tamales ANYWHERE in North Carolina. With our booming Hispanic population it makes no sense that I can get great tamales in Mississippi but not here. Any thoughts?

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  1. I hesitate to wade in here, as I know little about tamales and can't speak to the "authenticity", however, I had a tamale I enjoyed at a little Cuban take out place in Hendersonville, NC. If you are interested, I will try to figure out how to tell you where it is.

    5 Replies
    1. re: danna

      Yes I am interested, and desperate. I will be in the Asheville area this weekend and will gladly drive to Hendersonville on Saturday if you will give me the name , address and some directions!

      1. re: Tee

        In Raleigh, there's a taqueria on Peace Street called Taqueria Mi Mexico. Last time I checked, they served tamales in the husk.

        There's also Conga, a Cuban restaurant in nearby Morrisville, which serves an interesting Cuban variation.

        Finally, on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, a little shop called La Esquina Latina sells both homemade Mexican (in corn husk) and Guatamalan (in banana or plantain leaf) tamales from a refrigerated case. You just take them home and steam them for 5 minutes or so.

        It's been a while since I've eaten any of these, so you'd want to call ahead to make sure my info is still valid.

        1. re: Tee

          I couldn't remember the name, so I did a search of Hendersonville restaurants and came up with Tropical Dream on Kanuga Rd. 828 694-3663. Please call them, and make sure it is a Cuban place, they will have tamales while you are there, and get directions. I wouldn't want to send you on a goose chase. There's no seating, but it doesn't sound like you care! Get a coconut soda...owner recommended addition of rum.

          BTW, are you familiar w/ Salsa? Best rest. in Asheville, Carribbean, and on rare occaisions has had a tamale=based special, but not often. Good luck.

          1. re: danna

            Thanks so much Danna. And yes, I love Salsa too.
            I really appreciate your effort on my behalf.

      2. We live in Hendersonville and go to El Paso II at the Best Western on Route 64.... take the Bat Cave exit and it's the first right. Anyway, the service is always good and I adore their tamals. They leve the "e" off at the end, but you get masa wrapped around pork, steamed, de-husked and served with a great meat and possibly mole sauce on top. We probably go there once or twice a week. I have a friend who moved here from southern Texas, and she deemed it authentic... and was thrilled to find it!

        1. I have found them frozen at Trader Joes. They are pretty good but the best ones are sold sometimes at our church. Those are homemade and delicious. Check at the Spanish masses at Catholic churches.

          1. The best tamales I've ever had are always wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks. With that said, the best damn tamales I've had in the Triangle area are at Taqueria La Vaquita in Durham, NC and Taqueria Rancho Grande in Cary, NC.

            At both of these taquerias, they will serve you a heavenly tamale that consists of moist, fluffy and wonderfully seasoned masa that has been carefully filled with chicken and salsa (usually rancho but sometimes salsa verde). All this goodness is wrapped in a banana leaf which, I believe, keeps the masa from drying out like they tend to do in corn husks.

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            Taqueria La Vaquita
            2700 Chapel Hill Rd, Durham, NC 27707

            3 Replies
            1. re: ToothTooth

              Rancho Grande has good tortas and tacos also.

              I recently found pretty good tamales in the frozen section at Harris Teeter on High House Road in Cary. La Cocina Mexican Restaurant on Lake Pine at US-64 in Cary/Apex is my dine out source. Both of these are in the husk, which is my preference.

              1. re: blewgo

                The Kroger on Lake Pine and US-64 in Apex/Cary carries the same brand as Harris-Teeter. Kroger has chicken and H-T has beef. If you try these steam them for an hour. Skip the microwave instructions.

              2. re: ToothTooth

                Corn husks are appropriate in some parts of Mexico, while banana leaves are appropriate in other parts.

                Tamales are often available at taco trucks in the Triangle.

              3. Durham has numerous tamale options. La Vaquita has the best that I've tried from the authentic Mexican joints. Chubby's, Dos Perros and Geer Street Garden offer tamales as well, and they are excellent.

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                Dos Perros
                200 N Mangum St. Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701

                1. As to original tamales, I think I have a spot for you. Unfortunately I am not good at exact directions.

                  To start, the tamales are on sale only on the weekend in a mexican grocery and bakery in Greensboro off of High Point Rd. I'd say the place is about half way from I-40 to Jerusalem Market. Heading south it is on the left and in a small center off the road a bit. But the tamales are fantastic. I have to assume they are homemade and therefore authentic as they are only available on the weekend. Ask at the counter and they will direct you. We pick up some every time we are nearby on the weekend.

                  1. Eastern nc is awash with authentic taquerias. El Azador in Greenville and Las Dos Rosas in Tarboro are current favorites. They both offer tamales on the weekend, but I would certainly call to check on availability. I personally have cleaned them out when ordering for a large group.

                    I work with a few women from Mexico and they all make tamales from time to time. Most use corn husks, but a couple use banana leaves and claim that's what they grew up with. One woman, who is a fantastic cook, actually cooks the masa in a pot before filling the banana leaves. The results are superb