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Aug 25, 2008 12:14 PM

Richmond - Discolandia Market and a tale of two tamales … it was the best of tamales ... it was the worst of tamales

Discolandia Market is a small mercado. They have a nice produce section, the usual groceries and a music section in a second room … hence discolandia.

There is no meat but a small counter in the back sells a few tortas with cold cuts or pickled pork skin. There is a big pot of corn tamales next to the register.

The corn tamale doesn’t factor into this tale of taste and terror. It was a fine corn tamale with nothing that made it rise above the ordinary.

There is a relatively new tamale lady outside of Discolandia. She doesn’t make the indoor tamales. Her tamales ($1.50) are among the best I’ve tried.

The masa is very good, moist but not too lardy.

The chicken is lovely with lots of stewed chicken and a nice jalapeno kick.

The pepper and cheese is above the ordinary too, intensely hot with a red sauce.

The pork tamale was her weakest, though good, with ground pork in a red, spicy, mouth-tingly sauce.

She also sells champurrado, but I haven’t tried it yet.

There was also an excellent tamale lady further down 23rd street in the La Raza Market parking lot that I reported about a few years back.

Richmond - the Easter tamale

She sells out early, usually by nine am and attracts a number of customers. I was curious how my memories of her tamales compared to the Discolandia tamale lady.

I was surprised on late Sunday morning to see tamales being sold near La Raza. Didn’t seem like the same lady. No crowds. By this time the cd vendor had occupied the parking lot and this lady was selling out of a pickup.

Well, it was a while ago … maybe it was the same lady … who grew a few inches and put on a few pounds … oh no it wasn’t.

The late morning tamale lady sold single worse tamale I’ve ever had. The grisly … yes, grisly ground chicken had strings in it like corn silk. The heat in the red sauce came from stale chili powder. The masa was sour. Not only did I throw it out after the first bite, I never swallowed it and spit it out. Ick. Shiver.

It is unlikely I’ll get down that way before 8 am soon, so the comparison will wait. Just avoid the late morning tamale lady and instead travel a few blocks to Discolandia for some truly tasty tamales.

Discolandia Market
787 23rd Street, Richmond, CA

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  1. I suppose you mean the chicken was "gristly"? ;-) I've found a really high rate of poor tamales from street vendors... one of my theories is that it's because you can't see inside when you buy... too often the masa is hard, the fillings scarce. In Mexico as well as in the U.S. But the Discolandia vendor sounds like a happy exception!

    1. "The pork tamale was her weakest, though good, with ground pork in a red, spicy, mouth-tingly sauce."

      You've got to be kidding. A tamale with GROUND pork? If you aren't, that would make it the weakest almost by definition.

      1. Is the Tamale Lady there on Sunday? What hours?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Stitcher

          Usually. She seems more late-morning