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Are there great tamales in the Triangle?

As I was posting on another thread, it occurred to me that this subject deserves a thread of its own:

Has anyone found a great tamaleria around here? For me, the perfect tamal should come out piping hot, served directly from the steamer. The dough should be light and fluffy, somewhere between a corn pudding and a corn cake texture. The filling should be flavorful, with some heat to it. The whole thing should be moist and succulent. Finally, if there were anyplace around here that makes tamales oaxaqueños (tamales wrapped in banana leaves with mole negro), that would be a major bonus.

To me, nothing beats a great tamal. If anyone has found a good source around here, I'd love to hear about it.

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  1. They aren't tamales oaxaqueños, but you should probably check out the nacatamales at Xiloa on 9th Street. They're big & square & steamed in banana leaves; they're super-moist and the filling is usually meat plus rice/potatoes, maybe some other veggies, and raisins. The filling combination might throw you, or at least not qualify for exactly what you're looking for, but in terms of the consistency & flavor of the masa, they're closer than anything else I've had around here.

    1. You mean, besides the ones that one of my prep cooks made for the company Xmas party? ('cause they were just as you described down to the banana leaves and mole) Sorry, had to rub it in.

      Once again, I thought the tamales at Superior were very good if not spectacular. They were too hot to eat when I got them so they qualify in that department.

      I've also tried them at Miss Tortilla on 98 but didn't like them as much.

      4 Replies
      1. re: detlefchef

        Ooooh, Detlefchef, that was almost kinda mean, or are you planning on inviting Durhamois to one of your little in-house bashes? I think a little penance is in order. Hey, I have an idea - what about a little after-hours Chowhound party - we'll all bring can't find in the Triangle specialties. You can bring the Tamales. Whaddya say?

        1. re: suse

          That sounds like it would be fun. Perhaps after the holidays.

        2. re: detlefchef

          Does Superior have the tamales everyday or only on special days?

          1. re: Jeanne

            Honestly, I have no idea. I was there on a Saturday morning when I saw them so that, at least, is a good bet.

        3. i'm not in your neck of the woods, but if you're ever in the asheville area, i suggest trying the tamales at tomato cocina. they are very similar to what you're describing, less the heat (but that could just be my taste buds as what most consider "hot" is at best medium, and usually mild, to me).

          1. I had some tamales tonight from the taco truck in the Fitch Lumber parking lot (across from the Teeter in Carrboro). While I wouldn't label them outstanding, they *were* better than some others I've had around the Triangle (though I haven't had the ones at Superior, so I can't compare). The masa was moist, light and fluffy. The ratio of filling:masa was 1:1 or better, unlike some I've had where you get a tiny pinky-finger of filling surrounded by a 2" tube of masa. The filling was pork in a red chile sauce, and while there wasn't much heat, there was a nice mix of pork & chile flavor.

            The tacos were kinda flavorless, and the lengua was chewy, but I'd definitely go back for the tamales. Then again, I live over here; I don't know that I'd recommend making the drive just for them.

            If you do plan to be over this way, the truck is there from 6pm to midnight Tue-Thu. I don't know where they are the rest of the week.

            1. Mercado Superior has tamales every day. A friend of mine got a dozen to go on Saturday.