where can i get some good ones for a party this friday?
Consider not restricting yourself to the westside. Mama's Hot Tamales (MacArthur Park) has tamales from all (or at least most) of the Central American countries. They have all possible varieties--from meat-filled ones, to vegetarian, to fruit-filled ones. The tamales are very inexpensive (maybe $1.50 - $2.00 per tamale), and they are excellent. You can pick up, eat in, or have the tamales catered.
Mama's Hot Tamales
2124 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
On the westside, the standard corn husk ones I like are from Gallego's Tamales... they even have cocktail Tamales. I have yet to find a banana leaf tamale that even holds a candle to the ones at La Flor de Yucatan on Hoover near the Staples Center....
I would caution against Tamara's. I would describe it as the Bristol Farms of Tamale Makers. She charges up to $6 a Tamal and most will run you about $4. On the plus side, they have lots of choices and when they are fresh they are good. But initally I was put off when they first opened going late in the afternoon having tamales which were rubbery since they were reheated in the microwave and not steamed. But I have been back recently and had steamed ones fo lunch,which were very good.