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karina's mexican bakery-tamales

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karina's was mentioned recently in a thread about tortillas, if i'm not mistaken. it was a nice coindidence, since on my way back from a wedding in guerneville, my friends and i stopped at karina's in petaluma to take a peek.

i was taken in by signs on the windows that advertised turkey tamales with oaxacan black mole. i know next to nothing about regional mexican cooking, but have heard distant tantalizing rumors about oaxacan food. these rumors remain just that still, since these tamales were gone when i ordered them at about 1 to 1:30 pm. can anyone tell me what i missed out on?

so instead i ordered one pork and one tamale "rajas con queso," or so. i brought them back to SF and looked up karina's on chowhound, finding many positive reports. reminds me that i should read the north bay reports even though i almost never make it up there. i steamed the tamales and was disappointed to find that they just gave me two pork tamales, and not the rajas with cheese (what are rajas, anyways? please? the english menu just said "vegetables").

but these were very hearty, substantial tamales, with good flavor, savory shredded pork, what appeared to be a bit of a salsa verde-ish touch to the filling (slightly green interior). the masa was rich, nicely salty (i like salt), with an orange tinge on the surface. i've had amazing tamales made by a woman who worked at my college, where she worked the chile infused broth from her chicken filling into the masa, turning it orange and yummy, but these were only orange on the surface.

anyways they were good, and the whole time we were driving around the north bay i was trying to keep my eyes peeled for taco trucks and other opportunities for mexican eats that don't really exist in the city.

i wish i had something chowish to report about guerneville, but that was a wedding weekend, with mostly liquid sustenance.

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Karina's Mexican Bakery
827 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA

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  1. The 'rajas' I have seen were always 'rajas de chile', and they were always 'con queso'.

    1. rajas = roasted chile strips. Chile & cheese is a common tamale combo.

      Another rajas use with roasted onion sauteed with other veggies to give them depth --- calabacitas con rajas is a staple in southwest US & northwest Mex

      1. Rajas means slices and usually refers to any Green Chile that has been roasted & peeled. In some place it means they have been marinated with lime juice & salt... in Puebla they are almost always sauteed with onions & sometimes thickened with cheese & crema.

        Of course Rajas also means Cowpie in some parts of Mexico & Latin America... so be careful what you ask for =)

        1. If you are interested in Tamales and in the general area of Santa Rosa Mon-Sat from 5:45am and 10:00, I urge you to check out the morning tamal carts of Sebastopol Rd. Last count, there are 5 to choose from.

          I have only tried one cart - which was excellent. Anyways- just this morning passing by -almost every youngster going to school was scarfing down one of the tamales offered by these carts.