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WHERE TO BUY HOMEMADE, AUTHENTIC TAMALES IN LA?

I love tamales but find that not everyone makes them to my taste. I like the firm masa, and often I find places which serve the masa soft, sweet, and corn-mealy which I don't like. Where can I find authentic, homemade tamales? I'm thinking i can probably find them in east LA, and years ago I had a good connection there.

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  1. My favorite is Juanito's. Big, meaty and moist...one can make a meal.
    Homemade....looks like the place was formerly a home.

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    Juanito's
    4214 Floral Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90063

    3 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Thanks monku! I've heard about this place. I'll try it.

      1. re: foodluvver

        The masa is firm. They freeze well too. I always get the red chili pork tamales.

      2. re: monku

        Sorry; Juanito's tamales are the size of footballs and actually not very good, at least by my family's standards (which are high; our tamal-making grandmas have retired). We were appalled by the size and the weird-tasting fillings. IMO you'd be better off with Liliana's tamales a few blocks away.

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        Juanito's
        4214 Floral Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90063

      3. My very favorite are the Green Chili Cheese tamales at Los Cinco Puntos. And the Red Chili Pork tamales at La Indiana. Both places are close to each other in ELA.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

          I love the green chili & cheese -- my favorite. Thanks for the info!

          1. re: SilverlakeGirl

            I have to agree about the Cinco Puntos. Are the ones at La Indiana good? I pass it on the way home. I have never tried it. I like Liliana's.

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            Cinco Puntos
            3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063

            La Indiana Restaurant
            144 N 1st St, La Puente, CA 91744

          2. Juanito's, Los Cincos Puntos and La Indiana are all within a stones throw of each other if you're in ELA. Pick up some from all and decide.

            1. I've had both Juanito's and La Indiana and I still prefer Sandra's & Lolita's because I like their saucy fillings. YMMV if you like a more solid filling.

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              Sandra's & Lolita's Tamales
              5390 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

              1. I like the tamales at Alberto's. On weekends they have 8 or 9 different kinds. Weekdays they have fewer varieties. Approaching Christmas they really get busy.

                The masa is firm and not sweet or mealy. They have many fillings, but my new favorite is the picador, which is a mixture including ground beef. But they also have the usual chicken, pork, mole, cheese, etc.

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                Alberto Tamales
                1644 W Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90026

                1 Reply
                1. re: lil mikey

                  Another vote for Alberto's. Great selection of flavors, both savory and sweet. Really friendly service and cheap prices as well.

                2. They have consistently had the best tamales I have ever had outside those my ex-mother-in-law used to make. I tried to keep her as my share of the property in the divorce but I did not prevail. This place is in the back part of a parking lot in Pacoima. I think they may also have another location in the valley. Also great menudo but buy your own white corn because they don't put any in their menudo. Also great tortillas de mano.

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                  Lenchita's
                  13612 Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima, CA 91331

                  1. I'm going to follow this thread closely as well because my wife (who's Costa Rican) would love some real xmas tamales as well. While she likes the ones wrapped in corn husk, can anyone recommend a place to pick up some Central American style tamales (white masa with meat/vegetables wrapped in a banana leaf)? It's been a couple of years since she's had a "care package" from her Mama so any recs would be appreciated. (It'd make a nice surprise as well.) Thanks.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cagey

                      El Nido on La Brea has them, as does Alberto's on Temple.

                      1. re: cagey

                        On Saturdays ONLY, Yuca's has tamales wrapped in banana leaves.

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                        Yuca's
                        2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

                      2. I usually buy my Christmas tree at the Home Depot near Ave. 26 and there's always been a guy selling them out of his trunk. I'll also bet there's home made for sale on the street on the far eastern end of Sunset. Or the East LA Community College swap meet.

                        1. If the Masa matters, no one better than La Mascota... if you get there early enough, you can see the Tamale ladies making them in the window...

                          --Dommy!

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: Dommy

                            As you can imagine, it's hard to argue with what someone else grew up with. La Mascota just off Whittier?

                            1. re: cagey

                              Yup! La Mascota on Whittier not to far from Soto... Their Chicken Chili Verde is my favorite...

                              --Dommy!

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                              La Mascota Bakery
                              2715 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

                              1. re: Dommy

                                Thanks Dommy. BTW you're a great source for my comida quests here on the west side (and south bay). You've dug up some real gems!

                                Question on La Mascata. On the web site, Tamales look excellent! However, didn't see any soft tamales (wrapped in banana leaves). I assume they do both down there? Trying to stay as close as possible to C.A. (& Costa Rican / Salvadoran) style as possible.

                                Thx.

                                1. re: cagey

                                  Ah! They do not have Banana Leaf Tamales at La Mascota. For the best Banana Leaf Tamales it's the Flor de Yucatan. Note, they are Yucatecan style, so they are slightly different flavor and filling profile than Salvadoran, but I've never found a Salvadoran Tamale that has impressed me (I find the fillings with Potatoes and such are just too bland.)

                                  If you want the ones with the soft smooth masa, you have to get the ones called "Colados" or with strained Masa... No one does them better!!

                                  --Dommy!

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                                  La Flor De Yucatan
                                  1800 S. Hoover Street, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                  1. re: Dommy

                                    La Flor de Yucatan makes amazing tamales...so light and fluffy that masa is! And the filling is just as delightful!

                                  2. re: cagey

                                    Oh! and the reason I mention the Masa of La Mascota, is because I find it more flavorful than other places, and they grind it very smooth, which steams up firm... they are NEVER grainy...

                                    --Dommy!

                                    1. re: Dommy

                                      Thx, Dommy! Will surreptitiously check w/the missus about the Colados. She's not very fond of the potato-filled variety either. Serious weakness for moist pork or vegetable filling. Will keep checking.

                                      1. re: cagey

                                        "cagey" if you're near Culver City, Gloria's makes Salvadorian style tamales. I had them last year (there was some potato in the filling), but I don't recall the leaves they were wrapped in. http://shannonavery.com/gloriascafela...
                                        I believe Dommy is in the area and perhaps she can give a more expert opinion on the overall quality. Gloria's were the only Guatemalan tamales I've ever eaten.

                                        1. re: Feed_me

                                          Alright, thanks. I'll check them out, but I'm already planning a swing-by La Flor and perhaps La Mascota. Wife is fussy about here tamales.... but not THAT fussy. I'll keep an eye out on the thread here.

                                          1. re: Feed_me

                                            As I mentioned above, I'm not a huge fan of the central american banana leaf tamales, either with the corn or rice flour masas. Yucatecan style use herbs like Chaya or Epazote, which really had a PUNCH that is missing from the addition of Corn Husk, (Banana leaves do impart flavor, but it's a bit more of a nuance)

                                            That being said, I think I've had Gloria's Tamales (it's been a while tho', the last three meals there have been for Cocido only. SO.GOOD!) and wasn't that impressed overall. For westside Tamales, my favorite is still Gallego's Chicken and Cheese... totally different beast, but so delicious I don't really care... LOL!

                                            --Dommy!

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                                            Chaya
                                            525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                                            1. re: Dommy

                                              Thank you Dommy. I know you're more in tune with the ways of the tamale. I've never had the cocido at Gloria's, but with the fall weather I think I just might partake.
                                              I'm going to try and make it out to some of the more far afield tamale places to expand the tamale taste buds.

                                              1. re: Dommy

                                                Anybody know where to buy fresh epazote? I love it in my black beans...

                                                1. re: barbarena

                                                  You know, it's a bit spotty to find (although it grows VERY well in a pot and even indoors!). It's usually available at Mexican Markets (Although at times they are out) and I've had my best luck with the corner herb ladies throughout central LA

                                                  --Dommy!

                                2. Gallegos Brothers on Venice Blvd in Mar Vista in West LA. http://www.gallegosmexicandeli.com/

                                  1. Liliana's and Los Cinco Puntos are great and I would add Sandra & Lolita's @5390 Whittier Blvd in Whittier

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                                    Cinco Puntos
                                    3300 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063

                                    1. I must confess I've not tried most of the places reference on this thread. But I've always been a fan of Mama's Hot Tamales, across from Macarthur Park.

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                                      Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe
                                      2122 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                                      1. I have rather a stupid question. Do any of these establishments sell their tamales frozen? Or can they be frozen after they've been cooled?
                                        My husband's a big tamales fan, and we were unable to go to Indio Tamale Festival this weekend. I'm thinking of making it up to him by taking him on an L.A. tour of tamale makers.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: attran99

                                          We freeze tamales and they thaw just ok. They are never quite as good as when they're first made, whether you freeze them of just refrigerate them and reheat them; but it's better than no tamale.

                                          1. re: attran99

                                            Yes, tamales can be frozen very successfully. Just wait until cooled and then wrap them in tinfoil and a ziplock. You reheat them by steaming them in the pot or wrapping in a wet paper towel and microwaving them.

                                            --Dommy!

                                            1. re: Dommy

                                              The wet paper towel thing works great.

                                              As does putting the tamale in a small bowl, adding a tablespoon of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwaving.

                                          2. still love the ladies at the corner of 8th st and Irolo in the koreatown area. They sell at the jon's market parking lot. tamales, some with meaet or chicken or plain, xmas tamales in season, atole and chmpurrado - everything is $1 a piece. cash only.
                                            always fun and good.