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Tamales in OC for a party on December 3rd

Hi 'hounds,

I know you'll be able to help me out. I'm having a tamale party for the neighborhood ladies on Sunday, Dec. 3rd. When I did this last year I bought all the "stuff" and thought we'd make them but everyone just wanted to drink margaritas and eat. So this year I'm purchasing the tamales and renting a margarita machine.

My questions are: Do you know where I can buy good tamales in OC? I'm in South OC. Also, do I need to call and place an order in advance or do I just show up? I'll need about 30 of them. Lastly can I purchase them now and freeze them and then thaw and reheat prior to the event?

My MIL recommended Diana's in Gardena which is fine if I can't find a place closer but I guess the same questions apply.

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer.

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  1. There is a mexican market in Tustin off of Redhill and El Camino real. Cant recall the name but I always see people buying bags of tamales from there. It's next door to Seoul Garden. I doubt you would need to call ahead for just 30, and I believe they come frozen, but I could be mistaken.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MEalcentric

      Las Golondrinas has the best in So. O.C. They are moist and keep well in the freezer. I prefer the Veggie and Rajas (cheese and 3 kinds of peppers) but they also have chicken, pork or beef. They have 5 locations, 27981 Greenfield Drive, Ste. G. Laguna Niguel. Another 25800 Jeronimo Rd. Ste. 700 Mission Viejo. Also they are located in San Juan, Capo Beach and San Clemente. I go to the Capo Beach or San Clemente locations and they use the same tamales. I would suggest you try one of each and see what you think. Sure beats driving to LA on the 5.

      1. re: jsl

        Las Golindrinas would be convenient. I don't know why I didn't think of that as that's where I bought my masa for tamales last year. A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

        Maybe I'll hit all of the suggestions and do a comparative review. I can think of worse ways to waste time.

        1. re: Pate

          Please post after you have done a comparative. I have been doing the O.C. tamale search for a long time. So far Las Golindrinas for me but I'm sure anxious to see if there are better ones in our area.

      2. Try the handmade tamales at Gallo Giro in Santa Ana...they tend to be a bit heavy w/ the masa,but I adore the red chicken tamales with a bit of their excellent salsa

        1 Reply
        1. re: stormin norman

          Maybe it's bad timing on my part, but I never seem to get a good one at Gallo Giro. They have been dried out and nasty every time I've tried, so i stopped trying. I just don't think they get the turnover with all the other stuff they make there.

          I personally look for a specialist shop where everyone is carting off dozens at a time, like MEalcentric describes. Doesn't mean quality, necessarily, but it does mean the inventory moves.

          I hear you on the salsa, though. I love the salsa verde there.

        2. What about that El Salvadorian restaurant on Harbor and 19th? I think that's where it is. It's really good.

          1 Reply
          1. El Toro Market has great ones but the best ones are at Tamale Queen on First Street. Both are in Santa Ana.

            1. I realize that you asked for a rec in Orange County, but there is a great tamale place in downtown LA that might justify the drive. Mama's Hot Tamales has been mentioned many times on the board before. they've got a dozen different tamales from all over Latin America each day, so you'll get variety as well as quality. The prices are good. And they have both cooked and uncooked frozen tamales so that you can serve them hot and fresh. Great, great place... get a cup of their champurrado while you're waiting.

              2 Replies
              1. re: glutton

                Would I need to call first and order them for pick up or can I just show up and get about 30? Their website is really intriguing. I'm thinking of scheduling some work up that way so I can check it out and pick some up. I just don't want to show up and have nothing to take home.

                1. re: Pate

                  You can do either. They have a cold case that is usually holding a bunch of tamales. however, at this time of year, when so many people are entertaining, it might be worth it to call ahead to get what you want. That way you can order exactly what you want without having to gamble on what happens to be available in the cold case.

                  IMO, the sweet corn tamales and the cheese w/ rajas are the way to go. But they are all very good.