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[SAT] Best tamales?

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Will be in SA for the holidays and will want to pick up a few dozen traditional pork tamales. Recommendations?

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  1. There are 2 that I've heard of but I've not been to either.

    Ruben's Homemade Tamales
    1807 Rigsby Ave
    San Antonio

    Delicious Tamales. Various locations

    1. I understand that TELLEZ's are the best commercially made tamales in SA:


      2 Replies
      1. re: avi

        I've heard that, too—but just in Texas Monthly. For what that's worth.

        Tellez has bragged in print that they don't use lard in their tamales. (To me, that's a bad sign.)

        1. re: MPH

          No lard? I'd be interested in a double-blind taste test on that. I've attended the USDA tamal how-ya-doing, and the non-lard tamals were easily identified by, how do i put this, no flippin' texture and lack of depth in flavor. I refuse to substitute calories for bland imitation.

      2. I second Delicious Tamales. The main one is on Culebra, I go to the one closest to me on Nacadoches, and my Thanksgiving order is already in (check out the cheese and jalapeno tamales too!)

        I've also had really good tamales from Central Market.

        If I could only find a tamale steamer that wasn't so effin HUGE, I would be a happy girl.

        1. Ruben's on Rigsby. I've eaten them since I was old enough to understand a good tamale. They have a nice ratio of masa to filling...everything from bean and cheese to spicey pork to plain old tamal. Lines can be very long, depending on the season...and a cash-only basis--no plastic. Since Ruben's is close to home, I prefer them. If you're on that side of town, try the BBQ place on the corner of Roland and Rigsby, just across from Ruben's. They make a great hand sliced brisket sandwich and have yummy yam pie (when available).

          1. OK, I did try Ruben's. They do take plastic now. And during the holidays they only sell pork tamales. They were good. But, I liked the pork tamales at Adelita's better, 1130 Fresno. They are smaller, but I don't mind that. They seemed moister and more flavorful. Was not as fond of Delicious either--not bad at all, but I liked Adelita's better.

            1. I love the pork tamales from Delicious, but the chicken ones are not much to write home about. Wish I could find some chicken ones with some good flavor, but so far they've all been pretty bland. Maybe that's because they're non-traditional? Definitely gonna have to try the jalapeño cheese ones though! Any other suggestions for good tamales? Has anyone actually tried Tellez? The only recommendation I've heard so far has been the one from the press...

              1 Reply
              1. re: scrapcatb

                Chicken tamales are traditional in San-Antonio-style Tex Mex, but as you've found out, they’re rarely good because they’re so bland. My favorite chicken tamales are West-Texas-style: They're usually made with a wonderful, extremely spicy chicken filling.

                I agree with your observation that the pork tamales are the better ones from Delicous, but all of their tamales are just so-so or okay. Don’t get me wrong. They’ve been selling tamales in largely Hispanic neighborhoods for years. On the other hand, so has Karam’s, and their tamales are really bad.

                I'm comparing “Delicious Tamales” to homemade pork tamales, which I'm usually lucky enough to get my hands on, even when I can’t undertake the extremely labor-intensive process of making them myself.

                Your best bet is to look for "homemade tamales" signs, in English and Spanish, in the windows of all the tiny places on the west and south sides of town. For example, there used to be a panadería on Vance Jackson called La Guadalupana. The owner’s sister or sister-in-law sold homemade tamales out of the shop. They were amazingly good, even when just filled with refried beans. Since they closed the bakery, however, she may not be taking new customers, though she is still making tamales for her old clients.

                Bandera Molino [no longer on Bandera, but on Zarzamora between Fredericksburg and Culebra] is selling tons of tamales these days. I haven’t tried them myself, but I do get my tamale fixings there (fresh masa that’s ground on site—a molino is a mill—along with corn husks). Molinos are usually good sources for prepared foods. As far as Bandera Molino goes, I can tell you that they make flavorful, down-home picadillos (in the sense of fillings or stuffings) for tacos and gorditas. That bodes well for their tamale filling. Their fresh masa is also very good. Of course, the final result would depend on how they season the masa and their general technique.

                I’ve got a line on some homemade tamales this year. Otherwise, I would have checked out one of these places in addition to Bandera Molino:


                If you try them out, please post back on your experience!