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Best Tamales or Rellenos in Phoenix

I am visiting Phoenix and need to find great homemade tamales or rellenos. Any recommendations?

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  1. A few questions:

    What does "homemade" mean to you? Due to Maricopa County health regulations, very little food actually made in someone's home can be sold commercially. Are you thinking of restaurants that sell their own "house made" product rather than something purchased from an outside supplier?

    Are you looking to eat on site or get these items to go? There are a lot of vendors at farmer's markets and other venues that sell tamales packaged to take home and heat up later. I can't imagine that would work well for rellenos, though. I think a chile relleno is best eaten fresh out of a restaurant kitchen.

    Is there any particular part of town you'll be focusing on?

    2 Replies
    1. re: silverbear

      I'm sorry if that was unclear. I mean tamales and rellenos that are made on the premises rather than chain restaurants that bring in frozen items. I will be staying at the Arizona Biltmore but I can drive wherever.

      1. re: tstrum

        Just over a mile south of the Biltmore is La Purisima, a Mexican bakery that also sells homemade tamales and tortillas. I'm not necessary giving them the nod for "best tamales", but the proximity (and pastries) to the Biltmore makes it worth a stop.

        My favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican is also just a couple more miles south along 24th St, El Nopalito. They have both tamales and chili rellenos.

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        El Nopalito
        2831 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

        La Purisima Bakery
        2318 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

    2. I highly recommend the green corn tamales at El Bravo on 7th Street near Hatcher. They are fantastic and the wall full of awards and kudos for them are well deserved. Their other Mexican food is pretty good as well, but the star is definitely the green corn tamales.

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

      13 Replies
      1. re: Seth Chadwick

        So true. I had green corn tamales at El Bravo just last week and they were among the best I've had in a long while -- nice whole slivers of chili inside. I'll also echo the recommendation of El Napolito. Another good choice is Rosita's Place on McDowell just west of 24th St.

        So far, every place named is within a five-mile radius of the Biltmore, albeit in grittier neighborhoods than the immediate environs of the resort.

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        Tradiciones
        1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

        Rosita's Place
        2310 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          Are green corn tamales available year-round? Who would be in second place after El Bravo for this specialty?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yes, Green Corn Tamales are available year round. El Bravo is the gold standard, but I think Carolina's does a very good job with theirs. (Caveat: I haven't had a Carolina's tamale in a couple of years.)

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            El Bravo
            3800 E Sky Harbor Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85034

            1. re: Seth Chadwick

              Don't want to be forgetting the Food City Tamale Festival now that it is drawing near again(December 11th). What a treat for Tamale lovers. I always manage to pile a few dozen in the freezer every year when I go there.

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              If you're going to the Saturday market, I'd recommend getting tamales there for breakfast from the Tamale Shop. Personally, I think they're the best in town though others will probably argue. I'm particularly a fan of the green corn and cream cheese ones but I haven't had a bad one from them ever.

              1. re: ziggylu

                The St. Clement's church booth is also a winner.

                1. re: AzDumpling

                  What type of tamales does St. Clement's sell? Is it a vendor at the Saturday market?

                  I've started a new thread to collect recommendations for the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and Urban Grocery.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746185

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                  Downtown Phoenix Public Market
                  721 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                2. re: ziggylu

                  Sorry to split hairs, but, I think you mean the Tamale Store. Their website is informative:
                  http://www.thetamalestore.com

                  I like the tamales at Mi Comida (formerly named Mi Cocina Mi Pais).

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

                  1. re: johnseberg

                    From the Places link, Mi Comida seems to be pan-Latin. Does it make a variety of regional styles and which tamales there do you recommend? It's a possibility on my way back to downtown from Sun City Festival.

                    Thanks for the link for The Tamale Store. I set up a link in the database.

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                    Tamale Store
                    13046 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85022

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Mi Comida makes typical red and green Mexican tamales plus a banana leaf one with pork. It's been a while since I was there, IIRC they're a little bigger than most. I love this place, but, it's small, and service is slow. The last time I went, they were closed for a family outing. I wish I knew the area better, and had a "plan B" to deal with the uncertainty. You might be able to get take-out, if you don't feel like waiting. Maybe the tamale sampler and coconut flan to go? That'll sit nice on 50 BBQ samples! (not)

                      1. re: johnseberg

                        "That'll sit nice on 50 BBQ samples! (not)"

                        Each judge typically tastes no more than 24 submissions. But at one or two bites of each, that's still a lot of meat. I had to spit out two chicken mouthfuls today, as they were bloody and undercooked. I'm still full . . .

                        But I did catch a green corn and cream cheese tamal at the market this morning. Very nice although the masa didn't taste like fresh nixtamal.

                  2. re: ziggylu

                    I will whole-heartedly second this recommendation. The green corn w/cream cheese is awesome, as is there red chili beef. I've always found the masa / filling ratio to be nearly perfect in their tamales.

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      Thanks, that will shift my breakfast to the market!

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                      Downtown Phoenix Public Market
                      721 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                      Tamale Store
                      13046 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85022

                3. I like the Tamales at the Downtown Scottsdale Farmer's Market. Good breakfast burritors too. Other than that there are a lot of good options in town, some listed below. My best of all time are the ones my buddy's wife makes with her mom and sisters during the holidays. Simply awesome.

                  1. Had the chance to get some tamales from the tamale store. I'm not a big tamale expert (they don't have a lot of tamale stores in Toronto) but these were certainly the best I've had. Really good corn taste and great filling to dough ratio. You buy them in pairs and nuke them at home if you buy them at the store. They have TRE's (tamales ready to eat) at a bunch of local farmers markets.

                    DT

                    1. I say Old El Paso Tamale in Mesa at Brown and Horne.

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                      Old El Paso Tamales
                      730 E Brown Rd Ste 109, Mesa, AZ 85203