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Best Tamales or Rellenos in Phoenix

tstrum Mar 2, 2009 05:20 AM

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

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  1. silverbear RE: tstrum Mar 2, 2009 08:01 AM

    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
      tstrum RE: silverbear Mar 2, 2009 09:49 AM

      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
        azhotdish RE: tstrum Mar 2, 2009 12:21 PM

        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.

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

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

    2. Seth Chadwick RE: tstrum Mar 2, 2009 02:32 PM

      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.

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

      13 Replies
      1. re: Seth Chadwick
        silverbear RE: Seth Chadwick Mar 2, 2009 02:53 PM

        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.

        1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

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

        1. re: Seth Chadwick
          Melanie Wong RE: Seth Chadwick Nov 9, 2010 10:02 PM

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

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Seth Chadwick RE: Melanie Wong Nov 10, 2010 05:25 AM

            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.)

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

            1. re: Seth Chadwick
              AzDumpling RE: Seth Chadwick Nov 10, 2010 05:45 AM

              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
              ziggylu RE: Melanie Wong Nov 10, 2010 05:57 AM

              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
                AzDumpling RE: ziggylu Nov 10, 2010 06:46 AM

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

                1. re: AzDumpling
                  Melanie Wong RE: AzDumpling Nov 10, 2010 09:19 AM

                  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.

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

                2. re: ziggylu
                  johnseberg RE: ziggylu Nov 10, 2010 07:35 AM

                  Sorry to split hairs, but, I think you mean the Tamale Store. Their website is informative:

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

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

                  1. re: johnseberg
                    Melanie Wong RE: johnseberg Nov 10, 2010 09:17 AM

                    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.

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

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      johnseberg RE: Melanie Wong Nov 10, 2010 11:10 AM

                      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
                        Melanie Wong RE: johnseberg Nov 13, 2010 07:12 PM

                        "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
                    azhotdish RE: ziggylu Nov 10, 2010 08:06 AM

                    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
                      Melanie Wong RE: ziggylu Nov 10, 2010 09:14 AM

                      Thanks, that will shift my breakfast to the market!

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

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

                3. d
                  danieli10 RE: tstrum Nov 11, 2010 09:13 AM

                  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. Davwud RE: tstrum Nov 3, 2011 04:59 PM

                    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.


                    1. r
                      rdhargro RE: tstrum Nov 3, 2011 08:08 PM

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

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

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