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The 12 Hounds take on 12 Tamales... Tamale Taste Off!! Results!!!!

It’s been two years in the making... It’s required lots of planning and even a change in Household!! But this weekend, FINALLY, 10 SCARFers and 4 Hosts gathered at “Maison du Dommy!&P.” for a real deal Tamale Taste off! That night featured 12 Tamales from all over Los Angeles... there were Traditional East L.A. Tamales, 3 Varieties of Yucatecan, and even a Guatamalan Tamale!!! Yes, we survived tasting them all and then voted on each... at the end of the night after comparing notes and voting each based on their own merits (Basically, would you BUY this tamale again!) we crowned one winner!! Here’s the countdown...

#12: Flor De Yucatan Vaporcito: This was heart breaking for me because I ADORE these. But for some folks, the Tamale was a bit flat tasting. The firm texture of the masa was also a bit plasticy. The folks did note that this banana leaf tamale did have a much different taste than the others we tried... it just wasn’t a favorite...

#11: Lupitas Chile Verde: This was unique as this tamale was filled with a wonderful Pork Chile Verde stew. But it lost points for the masa being a little dry and the fillings being scant.

#10: La Indiana Chicken: I was a bit surprised this rated so low since La Indiana usually gets raves on the board. But when trying a wide variety of Tamales with various flavors, this one seemed a bit ‘dull’. In fact, I saw a few tasters add salsa on top of the Tamale... something “Las Comadres” of East L.A. would have a heart attack over... LOL!!

#9: Culver City Tamale Lady Chile and Cheese: This was one of the ‘ringers’. SO adores the Tamale Lady who sells tamales from her Mini Van in our block. So we decided to enter her to the competition. Despite the stiff competition, we think she did WELL with her small and simple Mexican Cheese and Rajas tamales which depending on the batch can be KILLER spicy...

#8: Lupitas Chile Colorado: This one faired better than the Chile Verde from the same spot because the masa was helped by the RICH Beef Chile Colorado.

#7: Tamara’s Calabacita: This was another ‘ringer’, I had to include a gourmet Tamale, so I picked this Vegetarian by Tamaras here on the West Side. The voting of this tamale was ALL over the place, as some loved it and others thought it was boring!!! But most everyone agreed that at $4 a pop... it wasn’t worth it...

#6: Flor de Yucatan Colado: This also received some mixed reviews as some did not care for the almost jello like texture of the Strained Masa. But others loved the flavor of the fresh tomato and epazote topping.

#5: La Fiesta Market Beef Tamale: Most people wouldn’t consider this little spot in the South Bay as a tamale destination. But it provided us with one of the most memorable entries of the night. Not only was the tamale absolutely FILLED with beef, but it was studded with peas and garbanzo beans!!! Definably a regional variation, but no one had any idea on what region...

#4: Guatamalteca “Chuchito”: Although I’m Mexican and adore Mexican Tamales, I was so happy to see this Central American Tamale rank so high. It not only had a great tasting filling, but also the masa had the most wonderful flavor. And the texture was just great. And to further make it even yummier, it was served with a mild tomato sauce. I WILL have these again... :)

#3: La Indiana Chile and Cheese: La Indiana managed to recover their rep with this Chile and Cheese... It was ASTOUNDINGLY good. It just wasn’t a ton of gooey Cheese and Good Rajas, but it also had great onion and tomato flavors. It was wonderfully complex. It’s now my FAVORITE from La Indiana... :)

#2: Mom’s Brazo de India: My final ringer. I asked my mother to make her famous Brazo de India so that we could have a Tamale ‘Variant” on the menu. This sauced “Tamale” Roll did SO much better than I thought!! Needless to say my mother is walking a little taller today.... And although she’s not currently taking orders, you can get this type of Tamale at Chichen Itza (They call it Brazo de Reyna).

AND THE WINNER!!!!!!

#1: Mama’s Hot Tamales Black Mole Tamale: I was SOOOO happy to see we all crowned this the WINNAH!! As many of you know, I’m a huge lover of Mama’s Mission and of course her Tamales. This Black Mole is also my favorite of the lot. It’s rich and complex. The masa is flavorful and moist. This exemplifies what a GREAT tamale can be...

Sadly because I was manning the Steamers, I forgot to take pictures of the night. I did get some pictures of the left over Brazo de India and will post those below... Also I will post the addresses of all these places below as well... But I hope this is helpful to the Hounds at large who are still placing their Tamale orders!! It was fun to try 12 tamales in one night, but I don’t recommend it actually... LOL!!

Thanks so much again to the SCARFers who drove all over to get there tamales and were such great company that night. Our life has been crazy busy lately, but we’re both so glad we FINALLY got a chance to do this and to have this group in our lives...

--Dommy!

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  1. Dammit, regretfully had to pass on this occasion. Would liked to have seen how my favorites from Sandra & Lolita's would have tested against these other heavy hitters.

    1. # 12 & 6
      La Flor De Yucatan Bakery
      1800 S Hoover St
      Los Angeles, CA 90006
      (213) 748-6090

      #10 & 3
      La Indiana Tamales
      1142 S Indiana St
      Los Angeles, CA 90023
      (323) 262-4682
      http://www.laindianatamales.com/

      #7
      Tamara's Tamales
      13352 W Washington Blvd
      Los Angeles, CA 90066
      (310) 305-7714
      http://www.tamarastamales.com/

      #5
      La Fiesta Meat Market
      15020 Hawthorne Blvd
      Lawndale, CA 90260
      (310) 263-0463

      #4
      Guatemalteca Bakery
      4032 Beverly Blvd
      Los Angeles, CA 90004
      (213) 382-9451

      #2
      Chichen Itza Restaurant
      3655 S Grand Ave # C6
      Los Angeles, CA 90007
      (213) 741-1075
      chichenitzarestaurant.com

      #1
      Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe
      2124 W 7th St
      Los Angeles, CA 90057
      (213) 487-7474
      http://www.iurd.org/mamasHotTamales/

      1. Brazo de India/Reyna Pictures!!!

        Here is the whole loaf... it's covered in Chaya Leaves (Nothing illegal here... ;))

        http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

        Here's how it's served, in slices. As you can see the 'roll' is made of hard boiled egg and toasted pumpkin seeds and more chaya!

        http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

        And finally gets dressed up in a spicy Habanero Tomato Sauce! :

        )

        http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

        TA-DA!!! Dommy Comfort food... :

        )

        --Dommy!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dommy

          So Lucky you are! Simply awesome....nothing more to say.

        2. Excellent. thanks for the posting the reviews. I'll be checking out a couple while in LA over Xmas.

          1. Pleeeeaaaaaaaseeeee try a chicken chili verde tamale from Gallego's Mexican Deli on Venice near Centinela, in Mar Vista, and tell me how you think it compares. Regular sized (not cocktail size), and it MUST be chicken chili verde. I would be surprised if it wasn't the best.

            I will try Mama's.