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Dec 6, 2007 03:07 PM

Tamales and atole - out of the back of a truck

Has anyone else tried the tamales and atole sold out of the back of a truck parked in the church parking lot next to La Hacienda on 183/Peyton Gin? They come in the morning, I think they set up at about 7:00 and they sell all kinds of tamales, including a sweet tamal. For atole, they have chocolate with spices (champurrado, I think) and one they call "arroz con leche" which actually does seem to have random bits of, you know, arroz floating in it. Good, cheap breakfast. I think tamales are going for $1 and atole maybe for $1.25.

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  1. Ok, I'm in Dallas and you're torturing me. I will dispatch my Austin-based bro to go check it out. But if you do go back, please do something for me: ask them what part of Mexico they are from ... and don't take Mexico City as an answer. Atole de arroz con leche is a pretty traditional and regional thing there - not the arroz con leche, but the making of it into atole. And, in fact, it is very interesting that atole is rearing its head. That speaks of a large, deep, deep in Mexico population ... which can only be wonderful for the types and quality of Mexican regional cuisines in Austin.

    Are the tamales the thin-masa norteno type? Or, are they the rounder, fatter, fluffier white masa with not too much grease and no chile powder or cumin in it? I need to get down there! Damn!

    Regards, and thanks


    6 Replies
    1. re: theabroma

      Do you mean that it's "interesting" (as in surprising) that atole is available locally? Its presence isn't exactly a new development in central Texas. For a very long time, atole (including atole de arroz) has been a part of Tejano home-cooking, especially around the holidays. Maybe it's a new subject on discussion boards like this one, though. For more reports on atole in Austin, see:

      Of course, if you mean that it's interesting (as in exciting) that atole is "rearing its head," then I completely agree. There's great chow to be found off the beaten track here.

      1. re: MPH

        re: MPH
        Thanks, MPH. I meant the latter. But your exposition was indeed revelatory and educational.



      2. re: theabroma

        Hmmmm...I don't know where they are from. But, I live around the corner from their location so, I stop by on a somewhat regular basis. I can ask. I'll have to examine the tamales more closely next time. I *think* they have chicken ones and pork ones - with the meat cooked in red or green chile sauces. They have one with rajas y queso and they have the sweet tamale with raisins - which for some reason is tinted pinkish-red. I guess I've been too eager to eat my tamales to notice what type they are. What drew me in was that they always seem to have a line going.

        Hmmm...but where are they from? I see a good excuse to eat tamales for breakfast on Monday. :)

        1. re: xeresana

          By very long and ancient tradtion, sweet tamales are tinted red/pink - pre-conquest with cochineal. The color red was, apparently very significant to the
          Aztecs, and figured in to death imagery an death ceremonies. In rural, east and southeastern Mexico - and of course in Mexico City - you will see pan de muerto prepared for Day of the Dead, sprinkled with coarse sugar dyed blood red. It is not typical (in my experience) to find tamalerias which have practiced here in the US for many years to still tint their sweet tamales ... which are usually only available at Christmas. This says to me that these people have cultural roots that run deep. That's great!

          I just finished teaching a tamal class tonight, so they are deep on my mind.

          Regards, and thanks!


          1. re: theabroma

            Well...I finally got myself back over there. I'll do my best to answer your questions, theabroma. I'll do my best to describe the tamales - then the owners. :)

            I had a tamal with rajas y queso. I'm not sure how to judge the thickness of the masa. The color was a pale creamy color - simliar to the color of white corn tortillas, I guess. The masa itself, at least in this tamal (and I can't remember if this was typical or not) was definitely not meant to be eaten out of the hand. It was moist and soft. I didn't detect chile powder or cumin, but I'm not sure that my tastebuds are that advanced. :) The rajas had a mild heat to them and a really nice roasted flavor. The queso was a yellowy orange cheese, not a white cheese. I don't recall seeing lots of yellow cheeses in Mexico. When in Rome, I guess.

            Anyway, the owners, I stopped to chat with them this morning because they actually had a lull in the line! I got a business card from them and asked them about where they were from. They tell me they are from Mexico City. :) Upon request from the chowhounds, I asked for more specific info, asking if they were *really* from Mexico City. Indeed, they tell me, they are. The husband said that he is from the side with the basilica. After I left, I realized the wife didn't respond as to whether she was from Mexico City itself or a surrounding town.

            Anyway, they gave me another copy of their business card. If you order a few dozen, they will deliver. We got a few dozen tamales last year for Mother's Day and they were a huge hit. Their card reads:

            Tamales "Dianys" Atole y tamales caseros estilo méxico. - rojos - verdes - dulce - rajas con queso - de puero o pollo - hecho todos los días

            The card also gives out their number (I"m not sure about posting rules on chowhoud, so I'll wait to post that if it's allowable) and the card ends with an "entregamos a su domicilio" which is true. They do if you are ordering, I think at least 2 dozen. :)

            As you can probably guess from their card, the crowd is pretty much exclusively Spanish speaking. The husband does speak decent English - certainly enough to get you well-fed. The wife is purely Spanish speaking. I was going to ask them more about how long they have been in Texas and all that good stuff, but a line started forming again so, I took my tamal, my atole, and said my goodbyes. :)

            1. re: xeresana

              xeresana, thanks so much! sounds like a typical type of central Mexican tamal - they tend not to put spices in the masa like is done in the north and along the border, and the those from the Centro tend to be very moist and spongy ... which I have come to love. And, although I don't quite understand why - anyone? chemists? - when I fill my tamales with quesillo de Oaxaca (which is really rather white) or queso menonita/Chihuahua (which is a creamier, ivory color) it turns yellow during the cooking process. It may be an effect on the cheese proteins by the remnant of the alkalis in the masa. I made some last night w/black beans, epazote, rajas, and queso fresco ... and that stuff turned so orange it would make a Kraft slice blush.

              Sounds like they have quite the business going on ... we are rather impoverished when it comes to taco trucks here in Dallas compared to Austin and other parts of the state. I lived there for some time, visit often, and hope to move back within the year. Next trip down, I will have to find that truck and give Dianys a whirl. God, home delivery. That could be just real dangerous ....