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Where to buy tamales by the dozen in Boston area?

p
paraque Nov 20, 2008 07:28 AM

I'm from a border town in South Texas, transported to the frozen north. With Christmas around the corner, my mind has naturally turned to thoughts of tamales. Does anyone here know of a place I could buy some good tamales by the dozen? Sort of Mexican/Border style tamales - I've had other versions and they're good, but not the same.

I'm really not necessarily thinking of restaurants that sell them. When I lived in Chicago, the place to get them was from the people who wandered around selling them in the Sam's Club parking lot... Although I'd be willing to try a restaurant if it came highly recommended. Thanks!

  1. f
    fredid Dec 8, 2008 05:13 PM

    One more place for very good tamales, although probably not "border" style - Angela's, in Eastie is now making a variety...

    1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 6, 2008 07:24 PM

      Bumping the thread because of important new information: Maria Bonita, at 2447 Mass Ave in Cambridge, between Porter Square and the Arlington line, not only has excellent border-style tamales in pork, chicken and beef, the owner conformed for me that you can buy them by the dozen for Christmas. He says to call -- 617-868-1160 -- and place an order and you can come by and pick them up. They're closed Sundays, but open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. the other six days.

      I can vouch for the quality of the beef tamales. One of the best I've had in a while, with substnatial chunks of tender, flavorful beef and just enough masa.

      7 Replies
      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
        p
        paraque Dec 8, 2008 12:02 PM

        Excellent! Close to my place, too...

        1. re: paraque
          w
          winedude Dec 8, 2008 04:36 PM

          Please do send a report once you've tried these. Are they the thin kind, at a reasonable price? The shipping adds a ton to ordering them from Texas.

          1. re: winedude
            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 8, 2008 07:39 PM

            I did not think to ask what the per-dozen price was, but I suspect they're somewhere in the $20 range, give or take -- almost certainly less if you're ordering more than one dozen. Definitely cheaper than the place I get them shipped from in Texas once you factor in those shipping costs, but fresher and just as tasty.

            They're neither the pencil-thin Mississippi type nor the fist-sized Central American variety. I'd say the one I had on Saturday on the side of a magnificent chimichanga was somewhere between 1.5 and 2 inches, which is what I think of as a border-style tamal.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
              Allstonian Dec 9, 2008 02:52 AM

              They were a good bit bigger than, say, the tamales we've mail-ordered from Pedro's, which are about an inch across. The Maria Bonita tamales are a generous two inches.

              It may also be worth mentioning that the filling includes a few bell pepper strips and black olives along with the meat.

              1. re: Allstonian
                BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 9, 2008 09:52 AM

                Really? I didn't get anything like that in the beef one I had.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                  Allstonian Dec 9, 2008 09:59 AM

                  Yep - both my beef and my chicken one had veggies in the filling.

                  1. re: Allstonian
                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 9, 2008 11:50 AM

                    I did notice while they were making our meals that the three tamales we had between us came out of three different bins, which seemed odd considering that two of them were beef tamales. I wonder what the rationale behind that is.

                    Regardless, if anyone's making a special order, I'm sure they can specify how they want the tamales done, since they're made on-premises.

      2. opinionatedchef Nov 22, 2008 09:53 PM

        i agree w/ the posters who have steered you to the Taq. la mex. in union square somerville. i think their pork tamales are excellent. However. while you are in union square, stop by pollo las brasas another block further into Union Sq. Personally, I have never had better tamales- though they are Peruvian. Four times the size of most tamales, the masa is richly colored and flavored by pork broth , the filling is large chunks of succulent pork plus an olive and egg wedge; all wrapped in a banana leaf. I know, I know, it's not the style you were raised with. But you're a CH; be adventurous!! Pick up the ones at Taq.la mex. and then get your bonus at Polla las brasas (owned by the Machu Picchu restnt people across the street) i guarantee you won't regret it!.

        3 Replies
        1. re: opinionatedchef
          b
          bear Nov 23, 2008 05:41 AM

          That's good to know about the tamales at Pollo a las Brasas. I had a very tasty beef empanada there a few weeks ago. Have to try the tamales next time.

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            e
            El Guapo Nov 24, 2008 05:13 AM

            You can also get quality Peruvian tamales at Frio Rico - behind El Chalan on Bennington Street - in East Boston. She has pork and chicken and usually only sells them on the weekend. I bought a dozen from her this summer before a family vacation.

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              p
              paraque Dec 8, 2008 12:01 PM

              It's not that I object to other kinds of tamales... I've tried several and they're all very good. And I'm sure I'll have to give The ones at Pollo las Brasas a try. But I'm looking for my traditional Christmas morning breakfast...

              I've already got the navel oranges from Mission TX... Just need some tamales. And maybe Pan de Polvo...

            2. 9
              9lives Nov 21, 2008 06:11 PM

              I doubt you'll find them in a Sam's Club parking lot near Boston; but East Boston is a treasure trove of Latin foods. There's a place on Meridan St that sells tamales on the weekend.

              I may be in the the area tomorrow and can try to track them down for you. I can't say if they're the border version that you prefer...but I'll report back.

              Many of the E Boston places are Salvadorean or Colombian.

              5 Replies
              1. re: 9lives
                p
                paraque Nov 22, 2008 09:01 AM

                I'd be happy to hear what you find. I've thought about making them myself, but it's always seemed like an awful lot of work.

                On a related note, I have learned to make my own flour tortillas after deciding I couldn't eat the moldy rubber disks sold by Shaws and couldn't afford the less moldy pack of eight sold by WF for $5. Definitely worth the work, so maybe I'll break down and try my hand at tamales.

                Like I said, the other versions are all pretty good, but only the Mexican Border type tamales say "Christmas" to me. Maybe I'll try Taqueria la Mexicana.

                1. re: paraque
                  f
                  fredid Nov 22, 2008 12:59 PM

                  Paraque - You should have lots of other choices for tortillas in the area - The bodegas etc. of Eastie sell locally made - I believe I saw Cinco de Maya tortillas at the fruit and veggie stand across from Santarpio's, for instance (on the other side of the overpass.)

                  1. re: fredid
                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 23, 2008 02:41 PM

                    Cinco de Mayo only makes corn tortillas, though. (They're outstanding, however.) Flour tortillas are an entirely different beast.

                  2. re: paraque
                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 23, 2008 02:40 PM

                    Actually, I've made tamales, and it's not hard, not is it particularly a lot of work. I should make up another batch this Christmas, in fact.

                    Hint: La Principia, the Mexican market on Moody Street in Waltham, has fresh corn husks, which are way easier to work with than dried.

                  3. re: 9lives
                    9
                    9lives Nov 22, 2008 01:25 PM

                    The cold weather limited my exploration today..gusting off the harbor

                    Didn't find any tamales...saw some tortillas in a few small bodegas..looked locally produced but can't speak for them. Bought a few local made Colombian chorizo, which I've bought before..nice cumin flavor.

                    Oran Cafe was our destination...and lived up to all expectations...and then some..deserves it's own thread.

                    Sorry about the lack of tamale report; but there was serious domestic interference..:)

                  4. t
                    tallullah Nov 21, 2008 04:47 PM

                    Taqueria la mexicana has great tamales. You can get them frozen by the dozens.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tallullah
                      almansa Nov 21, 2008 05:17 PM

                      I didn't write that mods. Can I add that Robert at TLM is a border town Texan, in case that might be helpful to OP.

                    2. c
                      cpingenot Nov 21, 2008 12:27 PM

                      Another displaced texan here.
                      I know this isn't your question, but I gave up on finding them up here and so I started making them myself.
                      I used this recipe http://www.sonofthesouth.net/tamales/...
                      The site is a graphically bit much, but the recipe is well tested and although it's a lot of work they were really really good. Plus, I think that the reason Tamales became associated with Christmas is that it's a great way to get family and friends together to talk and wrap tamales.
                      The hardest part was finding the corn husks in Boston- I had to go several places. I found them at Harvest in Central one year, and WF another year, but even some hispanic markets don't regularly carry them.
                      Good luck whether you make them or buy them.

                      1. b
                        biggie_eater2008 Nov 20, 2008 03:22 PM

                        Angela's in East Boston has TAMALES! she makes them by hand.
                        Angela's Cafe 131 Lexington Street, East Boston, MA 02128
                        (617) 567-4972

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: biggie_eater2008
                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 21, 2008 12:39 PM

                          This is good to know -- and I'm sure they're amazing -- but fair warning: they're not likely to be the Texas border style the OP is asking about. Angela stays close to her Puebla roots.

                        2. itaunas Nov 20, 2008 01:25 PM

                          There definitely are individuals who make and sell tamales (Salvadoran and Guatemalan are most common in my experience). You can find them churches (sometimes sold for fundraisers and in the parking lot outside larger masses), sometimes they are sold at soccer games (pupusas more common), but for border style you are probably stuck with USPS.

                          1. d
                            daliryma Nov 20, 2008 12:42 PM

                            I don't know of any place either. My wife is from San Antonio, so everytime we go to San Antonio, we bring back tamales, tortillas, and certain spices.

                            1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 20, 2008 12:18 PM

                              As a fellow Texan, I'm afraid that unless something has changed in the last year or so, the answer is "Via the US Postal Service."

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                w
                                wilbanks Nov 22, 2008 04:31 PM

                                There are multiple tamale delivery options via USPS. You can get your local ones mailed to you (make sure they are frozen as fast as possible). Or you can order a large variety online. I have had, and enjoyed, the red chile with pork and the green chile chicken ones from Santa Fe (http://www.santafetamales.com/index.htm). I've never eaten but am curious about Pasquale's (http://www.sucktheshuck.com/pasquale-...) despite the weirdness of italians in arkansas selling mail order tamales...or maybe because of it.

                                Tacos Lupita in Somerville (see elsewhere on this board) has very corn-y tamales with chunks of meat. I don't like them as much as the other food there. There are also latino groceries in Eastie and there's one on Center St. (the Hi-Lo) in Jamaica Plain that has a huge selection of tortillas and arepas. I got some nice purple corn tortillas there a few weeks ago and I'll check on the tamale situation there next time.

                                Warning on my taste: I come from Texan stock, though my own intro to tamales came from the street vendors in New Orleans who used to sell them along with newspapers in front of the old K&B drugstores. I love border tex-mex as well as the varietal "authentic" mexican cuisines, but my first love is new mexico style, so that biases me towards the santa fe tamale.

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