Pineapple Tamales in Pescadero
There is only one gas station in Pescadero, inside you will find a small restaurant with the yummiest pineapple tamales! WARNING: these are addictive. I have driven an hour and a half round trip just for these babies. So the secret is out.
I am always searching for a great tamale. I've never had a pineapple tamale so I'll definitely try it out. Because I am tamale-obsessed and want to know what to expect, I have some questions for you...What is the masa like, light & fluffy or dense & filling? Is the masa seasoned? What about the filling, is the pineapple cooked & sauced or fresh? How sweet is the tamale? Good filling to masa ratio?
Does the restaurant sell them by the dozen? How much? Do they sell other flavors?
Just this week, I went to La Michoacana 8am-2pm to get tamales (510-452-0544, 704 Jefferson, Oakland). Its a wholesale/retail place in the basement of a house just around the corner from La Borinqueña (Melanie Wong's Christmas tradition).
La Michoacana only makes pork tamales. They're pretty good. Their filling is a ground pork mixture, instead of pulled pork like La Borinqueña. I was worried the filling would be too fatty, but it wasn't. Their masa is very dense and filling (I can only eat one) but good. Their Tamales are $10 for a dozen so at this point they're the cheapest tamales I've found in the Bay Area.
But since I grew up on Southwest style tamales, I will continue my search for a place in the Bay Area that makes more highly seasoned/spicy tamales. I LOVE it when the masa is red from chiles! Luckily, my uncle brings tamales from New Mexico every Thanksgiving so I get some at least once a year....
re: Rochelle McCune
One of my friends in Santa Rosa makes her own sauce from hot New Mexico chiles and it adds a great flavor punch and heat when spooned over purchased tamales. She buys her tamales from a friend of a friend in Sacramento who is retired but still takes a few orders . . . there's no way to get on the customer list, I've already tried.
I like the heavy dense style of masa, none of that crumbly/fluffy stuff for me. This was what I grew up with, the masa kneaded with lard and beef broth by Mexican grandmothers' knarled hands. The grandmas who used to fill our house with tamales at Christmas have passed on and we are forced to buy our tamales from commercial sources.
Tamales at Christmas time is a tradition we share with our Mexican friends. The source is irrelevant, as long as it's a good one. La Borinqueña's frozen are handy for the times when none of us have time to pack a chest full of hot ones straight from the steamer on Christmas eve. My sister often buys them from a place in Hayward, sometimes we get them from the mexicatessen in South City or from Watsonville.
I've got two leads in San Francisco. I wanted to check them out further before posting here so that I'm not sending chowhounds out on wild goose chases. But since you sound like my sister in arms, maybe we can split up the investigation and get this done quicker. Are you game?
re: Melanie Wong
Absolutely. Anytime, Anyplace. Feel free to email me directly with info.
While I am mostly interested in places that will sell tamales by the dozen, I will "eat in" if I have to. My search has been mostly random, although one day I walked up and down 24th street and picked up a number of tamales from every establishment that sold them. None were cheaper than $2.00 a piece and none knocked my socks off.
I have had one exceptional tamale while in SF - one Saturday morning I was at the Flower Market. A guy carrying a plastic bucket walked up to me and said "Tamale?" Duh, of course!!! It was $2 and still steaming. He walked away before I ate the tamale and realized that I wanted to buy his whole bucket! (Really good flavors, lots of spicy filling, masa was just the right consistancy - not too crumbly, not too dense, not too greasy) According to one of the flower merchants, he comes there every day around Noon. On that day he was unusually early. I've been thinking about trying to hunt him down or just spending a day or so staking out the Flower Market.
Re: your friend making her own sauce, good idea. Maybe tomorrow I'll whip up something nice and spicy for my remaining tamales.
re: Rochelle McCune
It's a deal! Here's the lead - I had a tamale from a vendor who stopped by the salon where I was getting my hair cut. Hot out of an insulated bucket much like you describe and with some real spicy heat on it. He said that I could get them again at Los Jarritos (on South Van Ness, SF). After two missed attempts because I didn't have the protocol quite down (my Spanish comprehension is not perfect), I believe that the drill is that you have to order them in advance from the restaurant and then pick them up on Tuesdays. If you could check this out and report back, that would be fantastic!
The other possibility is a woman who was selling from a folding table in front of a store on 24th. I need to find her again to make sure it wasn't an apparition. I bought two warm ones ($1 each) after shopping at Casa Lucas and ate them in the car. Much spicier than the usual fare, I was wishing that I had a cold drink at hand. I'll offer more details when I can confirm another sighting.
Here's a link to an earlier tamale thread for some more tips.
Thanks for sharing, David. You know, i was in Pescadero in December and poked my head into every commercial establishment in town EXCEPT for that little Mexican restaurant. My ride was hustling me to get back on the road. Sounds like I made a major chowhound boo-boo! What else is good there?