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Sep 28, 2007 05:35 PM

Best Phoenix tamale?

Any recommendations on where to get an awesome tamale in in the valley? I'm not familiar with many authentic Mexican restaurants, but in the chains I've tried they're usually dry and cakey for my taste. I'm willing to drive for something good, so any place in the valley would be of interest. Thanks!

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  1. For Green Corn Tamales, El Bravo on North 7th Street in Phoenix is outstanding.

    El Bravo
    8338 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85020

    1. I agree with Seth (what's new?), regarding El Bravo.

      One thing to consider is the broad range of what constitutes a tamal. We had a wonderful Guatamalan restaurant in New Orleans, that specialized in the food of the Caribbean - Cuban, Guatamalan, Mexican, Santo Domingo, etc., etc.. One could get a dozen totally different tamales, each done to the best of the kitchen's capability (and that was awsome), to keep it as authentic, as was possible. Tamales wrapped in parchment, banana leaves, corn husks, and on, and on. I'd often do one each and just savor the differences. While tamales are not quite as geocentric in Mexico, as, say the mole, there are also differences. I do enjoy El Bravo's. El Conquistador (32nd St, above Thunderbird Rd (before Cactus becomes Thunderbird Rd) has a good one too, with the influences of the state of Jalisco. For me, El Bravo's are closer to what I know as Tex-Mex, and very good. One note (and there have been a dozen threads on what is "authentic Mexican") is that in real Tex-Mex, we never encountered green-corn, but their regular beef and pork are a bit closer - could be the beef-based sauce, that they use.

      I have yet to make it to Tradiciones at the Phoenix Ranch Market, but I hear that they do some good tamales.


      5 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        One way to sample the tamales at Tradiciones is to enjoy the Sunday brunch buffet in the Fiesta Room (distinct from the main dining room). Tamales of all sorts are part of the buffet, so it's possible to sample and decide which types you like best.

        1. re: silverbear

          What a useful rec. We have yet to get down there, and it looks like December, before we'll be back in PHX. I promise (to myself, at least), that we'll do it. I'll go with your advice and go for the brunch. I love sampling and wife and I often go "family-style," even when the table clothes are fine linen and we have a dozen servers at our disposal. I can imagine that we'll probably spend the entire Sunday there.

          Like your idea - thanks,

        2. re: Bill Hunt

          That is an excellent primer, Hunt. I think people lump tamales into near monolithic status and it is as diverse as the states in Mexico. Unfortunately, there are way too many bad tamales in Phoenix which makes the finds at El Bravo and Tradiciones that much more precious.

          1. re: Seth Chadwick

            Are the tamales at Tradiciones the same ones they sell in the Phoenix Ranch Market next door? If so, I feel a swoon coming on.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Well, I haven't had them in some time, but I believe they are. No promises, though.

        3. I third El Bravo.

          Their Green Corn Tamale is as good as tamales get plus it is hard to spend $20 there --- for two!

          1. Mi Cocina Mi Pais. The tamale sampler is a must. Also, plantains five different ways, including as a dessert.

            Mi Comida Restaurante Latino
            4221 W Bell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85053

            1. Thanks, everyone. Planning a tamale expedition soon.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hombre

                Another great place for a tamale is Los Sombreros....
                @ Christmas they sell a gift box of 12 different tamales for the 12 days of you order early!


                I especially like their mexican chocolate desert tamale.....which they serve year round!

                Los Sombreros (Duplicate-Incorrect address
                )1849 North Scottsdale Road, Phoenix, AZ

                1. re: ciaogal

                  Dang, you guys are making me wish that I had not planned Kobe burgers this evening! Lots of good advice here. Maybe we should rent a large van, or small bus, and do a tamal tour Phoenix. We'll need a designated driver though, as it sounds like no one could fit behind the wheel, after a few stops.