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Tamales for Christmas Party

I'd like to serve tamales at our Christmas Party this year and want to hear your recommendations of places to purchase them. I have to say that I'm a tamale snob. My Grandmother made tamales at the Green and White Grocery store for 25 years, with her sister. My Grandmother passed away a few years ago. I'm not going to make them myself so...

I like tamales that have flavor and aren't too dry. I prefer traditional pork but would consider variations.

Thanks y'all.

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  1. Good luck. I tried to buy them at the "Tamale House" on Airport Blvd a while back and they acted as if I was crazy. Their recommendation, "Find somebody's grandmother." I ended up buying them from HEB; while not great, acceptable at a picnic.

    6 Replies
    1. re: thebodytx

      Tamale House doesn't actually serve tamales. Probably why they looked at you funny.

      1. re: tom in austin

        so why the heck do they call it the tamale house?

        1. re: rudeboy

          No idea. The mystery is enhanced by the full name, "Tamale House #3". There is no #1 or #2.

          This is just the way it always has been. I don't make the rules.

          1. re: tom in austin

            There used to be a tamale house #2-- it was at Guad and 29th and I ate there pretty much every day in college. They had a spoof Star Wars sign that said "Taco Wars." Sigh. Back when the tortillas tasted homemade and the papas were griddled to a dark golden perfection. Taco Shack bought it out. I can only assume there used to be a #1 also.

            1. re: femmenikita

              #1 was at 1st and Congress. It was big news when the owners sold the property because they made a huge killing on the sale. They relocated to College Ave just north of Congress Ave and Oltorf, but that location closed long ago. Tamales were actually for sale there.

              1. re: agoodbite

                Thanks for the history, y'all. That's what Chowhound is for.....clarifying the rules.

    2. Oh man, we used to get those Green & White tamales every year. They were so good. I was sad when they decided to stop making them a long time ago.

      I recommend a trip to San Antonio. I like the pork tamales at Adelita's on Fresno (http://adelitatamales.com/).

      Locally, the most reliable I've found are Pedro's at HEB (http://tamale.com/). They're made in Lubbock. Otherwise, I haven't found much here.

      1. Both Nueva Onda by the South Congress HEB and Habneros on Oltorf sell them by the dozen. At Nueva Onda you might have to order in advance.

        1. My office gives tamales as gifts to referrals, my boss always orders 50 dozen from Guerro's on Congress.

          1. Curra's has really delicious tamales. I'm pretty sure you can order them in bulk/catered, because we served them at our wedding.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bookgrrl72

              I second the Curra's recommendation. The masa is airy, the shredded pork filling is delicious and they are large. The best I've had in Austin.

              1. re: bookgrrl72

                Amen on Curra's, note that they are expensive. However, they are not the small tamales, they are large, meaty and wonderful. Also worth checking out the seet tamales. My in-laws from Mexico City always ask for me to bring them down when I go down to San Antonio when they visit.

                1. re: hnewburn

                  Seet tamales confused me until I looked at Curra's website. I think you must have been talking about their sweet tamales: http://www.currasgrill.com/4807906_37... Unfortunately, they stopped taking reservations for tamales on Dec. 16th. I tried Pedro's from Lubbock (from Randall's), and I don't love them. They are among the smallest I've ever seen (only slightly larger than my index finger), and it's mostly masa and spices with very little meat. They are much better steamed than microwaved, I discovered. I also tried the pork tamales at Habanero (their only flavor, and they were smallish), and they were quite good, with more meat, although the meat was a bit stringy at times. The best tamale I've had recently was one a coworker brought to work--it was an HEB brand pork tamale.

                  1. re: angusb

                    I'm still on the hunt from tamales like they used to do at Balderas Tamale Factory in Round Rock. Damn I miss that place. The owner told me they sold nearly 200K tamales at Christmas. Just got tired of all the work.

              2. Have you tried Pedro's tamales? I absolutely love them. They are made in Lubbock and you can order them online at tamale.com. Also, some HEB locations here seem to have them.

                2 Replies
                1. re: exlnghrn

                  The Randall's on Ben White has both the pork & beef Pedro's tamales.

                  1. re: chascates

                    The spicy beef ones are simply phenomenal and should be experienced.

                2. Polvo's sells tamales for christmas

                  1. I don;t know if Leo still makes them, because I haven;t been down to Sunset valley Farmer's Market in a while, but Oaxacan Tamaleo makes the best tamales in Austin. They are Oaxacan style, so they are wrapped in banana leave. Oh, and they can be spicy, but they are HUGE. They are at least twice the size of their corn husk wrapped cousins. A little pricey, but maybe there is a discount if you order in bulk?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Homero

                      I haven't had one of their tamales since they moved the restaurant out toward Bastrop. I may have to make a trip to the farmer's Market to et some. Yum!

                      1. re: danny_w

                        I know. I used to work really close to their old location on Anderson Ln. I was so bummed when they moved.

                    2. Evita's Botanitas makes kick-ass tamales, but call soon.

                      Track Leo down through the farmer's market for some of Oaxacan Tamaleo's tanales.

                      Both are excellent and huge.

                      1. I grew up in San Antonio and now have lived in austin for over 10 years; and the tamales found in San Antonio cannot be matched by the ones in Austin.
                        My mom bought tamales & barbacoa at this molino:
                        Don's Molino
                        724 Pleasanton Road, San Antonio, TX
                        (210) 922-3981

                        1. Leo still has a website, not sure if the Bastrop-y place is still open: http://www.tamaleo.com/

                          La Michoacana and most similar markets sell them by the dozen, but call a bit in advance for a quantity. They can probably make any variety you like, pork, chicken, bean, "blind" (meaning no filling) etc

                          I bought some a few years ago from a little taqueria on 620 in Cedar Park, the Guadalajara. I'm sure any other such place can accommodate with advance notice.

                          Oh, the Curra's rec is solid.

                          Tamale House started out on the corner of Congress and First...they finally sold the property to whatever large building is there now. The guy retired and his daughters opened number 2 and then number 3, maybe different daughters, I can't recall. Number Two was at the corner of Guadalupe and 29th...today it is something else. Just for your FYI....

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sambamaster

                            I bought and tried MANY tamales over the last week, from HEB, Randall's (the Pedro's from Lubbock), Fiesta Mart, Whole Foods, Central Market, Habanero, and Taqueria Chapala. Last night, I finally found the best I've tried--at Costco. They're Del Real brand, and they are about the size of a frozen burrito. I got the pork, and it had light, tender masa, and juicy red pork filling, very meaty. They were far better than any of the others I tried. Second place I would give to Taqueria Chapala, which were quite good, although the masa was a bit watery and loose on a few of the tamales, and they were very mildly spiced. It surprised me that the ones from Fiesta were my least favorite, with a weird artificial corn flavor to the masa, like creamed corn, and no flavor at all in the filling. And although I ordered them cold at Habanero, I received a dozen hot tamales, all of which had a very tough exterior. I suspect that they microwaved them rather than steaming them to re-heat them. The filling was good, but they were ruined by the tough, rubbery masa.

                          2. I was in S. Texas the week of Christmas and my Step Mother bought tamales from Delia's in McAllen. She said there were locations in Pharr as well.

                            Holy tamale, they were fantastic. I had beef, pork, chicken, corn (sweet and delicious), bean and cheese and cream cheese with jalapeno. I can recommend any/all of these varieties. They were the closest to my Grandmother's tamales that I've ever found.

                            1. I couldn't find a great tamale in ATX either.....so we are making our own! We make Authentic Banana Leaf Tamales....many different flavors. They are moist and flavorful. We will be selling for the holidays...by the dozen. If you've never tried the "Banana Leaf" version, you are in for a treat! I have a local catering company....please reply and I'll give you some contact info.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: caterladyATX

                                Is that more of a Puerto Rican style? I had a friend in high school who was from Puerto Rico and her mother made tamales in banana leaves.

                                1. re: chispa_c

                                  No, they are more interior Mexico, south of Mex City. I also grew up with corn husker tamales and though I love them, I really love the banana leaf. They are so much more moist and the "white" masa, which we add different spices to, don't seem to over power the fillings.

                              2. My family has been getting tamales from Pablito's Bakery on E. Braker. They are light, fluffy, steamed (never microwaved to re-heat) and very fresh. Pablito's is generally awesome all around. We usually get rajas con queso or spicy chicken tamales there. I think they are 10 for 9$.

                                I grew up with corn husk tamales as well, and while the banana leaf ones are delicious (had them at farmer's market a few times) they are very exotic and have a distinct perfume from the banana leaf, and don't hit the spot for a childhood style tamales craving if corn husk is what you are use to. They are definitely yummy and highly worth checking out. I can't help being partial to the corn husk ones, though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                  Thx for the note. I hadn't heard about them until I saw them pop up on a Yelp geo-search, I will definitely try it.

                                2. Mi Ranchito at the end of Manchac Rd. at the intersection with 1626. My Aunt lived in Mexico for 15 years and her husband is from Mexico City. She flipped out on them. She went the next day to meet the tamal chef and the woman said her secret is that she grinds her own masa.
                                  White, light and fluffy masa with just the right amount of pork filling. This place used to be a cart for years and they finally opened a resturaunt. Everything is wonderful especially these tamales and their poblano sauce...