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Handmade Tamales (SD)

I'm looking for a recommendation on a place to buy tamales in San Diego. Thanks!

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  1. We buy ours from the tamale lady. She's got a stand in front of a liquor store at 35th and El Cajon. There may be better tamales in San Diego, but not for the price. I believe most are $1 to $1.50. The place stays open fairly late, but afternoon or early evening are safe bets.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joseph

      Another vote for a tamale cart on University and 38th? It's close to the Pupusaria place in front of the liquor store on the North side of the street. Open at 7AM usually. I work in the neighborhood and stop by for breakfast or save it for sack lunch. Rajas and Pork are my favorites at $1.25 each.

    2. Which part of SD?

      Try out Tamales Chiapeneco near north park.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu

        Central SD preferred - I work in Hillcrest and live in Rolando Park. Where in No Park is Chiapeneco?


        1. re: mimosa

          35th & El Cajon isn't that far from North Park, or Rolando for that matter. I, too, can vouch for the tamal lady. Plus she's usually got sweet tamales along with the savory ones.

          1. re: mimosa

            Its at 25th and market. Wonderful family run operation -- they are originally from Chiapas.

        2. Thanks for the recommendations! I plan to check both places out.

          1 Reply
          1. The Tamale Factory in El Cajon (on Greenfield Dr.) does a brisk business at Christmas time selling tamales.
            The restaurant itself is quite small. It's a converted house with a few tables inside and I think one or two outside.

            1. Haven't had a chance to go hunting yet. I'll report back though.

              1. My go-to local Mexican joint, Los Panchos (PB Garnet), just put out a hand written sign "Tamales 1.50 ea / 14.00 a dozen", choices Queso con chile, Puerco, Pollo. Did not get the chance to try, but I will try pick some up tonight. Don't let the name fool you, this is the exception to the Los Panchos brand. Good mariscos, Birria de chivo (random weekends), chile verde, filet en chipotle, menudo.


                1 Reply
                1. re: stevuchan

                  Do you know how long these will be offered at Los Panchos?

                2. A side question regarding the subject: I need 3-4 dozen tamales for a New Years Eve party. Any suggestions for such a large order?

                  Thank you 'hounds.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sdnativa

                    Tamales Ancira is capable of handling large orders, plus their product freezes well.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Thank you DD. That place looks perfect.

                  2. Not sure, stuff seem to come a go. Birria was offered on weekends for over 3 months, then last weekend...gone. If I get a chance to stop by tonight I will ask.


                    1. The Hillcrest farmer's market used to have several different tamale vendors (Sunday mornings). There is also a pretty good tamale vendor in front of the liquor store at 30th & Redwood in North Park.
                      The tamale vendor at 35th & El Cajon also sometimes sells champurrado (sweet hot drink).

                      1. Just an update, over the weekend I picked up a dozen Tamales at my local mexi joint, Los Panchos. Doz for $14. I was disapointed, masa was up to snuff, however the filling was dry and flavorless. What a let down, all the effort to make the masa, wrap, steam, and then fill them with bland boiled meat, what a shame. Also absent was the little olive present, that is usually in my favorite tamales. It's still my favorite for mexican in the nieghborhood, but no more tamales there for me. Still when you do the math what can one expect for just over a buck.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: stevuchan

                          go up to Panaderia Ortiz on Sunday in Escondido, pick up a oaxaqueno tamal and you will be making the trip every week.

                        2. I was recently driving down National Ave./28th, east off I-5, and passed at least 5 tamale carts or stands. It seemed like there was one almost every corner. I was on a work related project and not able to stop and investigate. It was about 9:30-10:00 AMish and most of them (but not all) were open. I remember thinking at the time this looked like prime tamale research territory and that I needed to come back and check things out.