11th St TAMAL SMACKDOWN!
What happens when you order Tamales Oaxaquenos in Park Slope? We did a side-by-side comparison, take-out.
Tacos Nuevo Mexico, 5th Ave. between 11th and 12th
Cafe Con Flores, 4th Ave between 10th and 11th (that flower stand with the great soup and tamales)
They all come in a banana leaf which is what makes it a Oaxacaqueno - and gives a lovely tea like aroma when you open up the packet.
Nuevo Mexico is nicely steamed masa with a spicy tomato sauce (not a choco-chile molé) on it, with some chicken and root vegetables inside (potato and carrot this time) The masa was separate from the sauce, all in the same banana packet.
Cafe Con Flores had Oaxaquenos with a molé rojo or molé negro. Both were complex molé sauces, which we liked much better than the simpler red at TNM. At Flores, the masa was a finer grind and the molé was mixed in through out, for a more custardy result. There was a bit of shredded chicken in these as well.
They were all tasty and delightful. And great with a salad for a quick dinner in this freezing weather.
I think the Flores ones are more authentic in terms of Oaxaca-style, and more delicious.
At the Conchita bakery (Fifth Ave, 9/10th St) there's a sign in the window for "Fin de Semana Tamales" . . . so we'll have to go back there Friday - Saturday - Sunday to check 'em out . . .
I still like the Fifth Ave and 46th St Rico Tamale Lady Sunset Park Oaxaquenos best - they are the same custardy style as Flores, but the molé is more nuanced and delicious, imho. Those still the ones that make us exclaim and use profanity . . .
we got some salsa verde (green) corn-husk wrapped tamales at Flores - they were the most picante of all, and delicious too
As a very minor sidebar, Conchita bakers is no longer in business for anyone who might try to look for it. Tamales were this desperate last gasp for them. I always wanted to like the place but always got a very bad vibe from them.
I must say I prefer Cafe Con Flores' Oaxaquenos tamales to any tamale served by Tacos Nuevos, as well as to Cafe Con Flores other tamales. Such a great little place to grab something on the way home from the subway. Tacos Nuevos has generally good food, though it can be hit or miss. I've had some dry tamales there before...
How to spot these places UPDATE
The red awning Fifth Ave and 46th St tamal heaven got a new awning in Mexican flag colors - a photo-vinyl thing with lots of text. But I was whizzing by in a car and
I haven't eaten there since August, so I couldn't say what's shaking. There's several newish stands on the side streets around there, esp below Fifth Ave.
Flores has done a little home improvement, and there's regularly at least one table on a little porch out front to eat at. They are such terrifically nice folks . . .
Not since they've moved - I remember having one at the old location further north on Fifth. Unfortunately, I don't remember anything about it, which means it wasn't great but it wasn't awful. It was probably a chicken with salsa verde or something - one of those that just doesn't stick out in my mind the was that a good mole negro or oaxacan cheese one does.
Tacos Nuevo Mexico is more of a full-service Mexican restaurant, with a very extensive menu and tamales are very much a sideline for them (try some of the specials on the board in the back). The Flores place is a strange mixed flower shop/soup and tamale stand with no sign and no place to sit just south of the subway 9th St. & 4th Ave. subway.
I would've never thought to order tamales at Tacos Nuevo Mexico, but I like the ones from Flores quite a bit (although they can vary, like all handmade product). The place that specializes in Oaxaquenos tamales down in Sunset Park mentioned by posters above is superior to both IMO. The Lopez bakery corn husk tamales (my favorite type) are generally quite good too.
I saw the "fin de semana tamales" sign a few weeks ago walking home, and it was the weirdest tamale ever. A piece of potato, a chunk of carrot, and a hunk of beef inside a decent banana-leaf-wrapped outside. It was not like any other tamale I've ever experienced. Not really in a good way...but try for yourself.