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Tamales

My family used to have a tradition of having traditional tamales on Christmas Eve that were shipped in from Texas. (This tradition happened down in the US as my parents were originally from Dallas). I'm going to attempt to carry this over up here and have heard they can be found in Kensington Market. I don't have time to do a taste test but looking for some solid traditional beef or pork tamales. Anyone have a favourite tamale goto place they can rec? Thanks very much for any help!

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  1. Emporio Latinho on Augusta do a nice selection, fresh or frozen.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Snarf

      Thanks very much that sounds perfect!

      1. re: abigllama

        I've had them and they're great. There's only one problem. My knowledge of tamales is very limited so I have no real benchmark.

        DT

    2. Corn husks are available for DIY. Way better than bought, sorry.

      1. The tamales are fine at Emporium Latino and they are fine at Perola as well (in fact a Oaxacan tamal I ate once at Perola's weekend taco stand may have been the best tamal I have eaten in Canada), although I don't know if you can purchase Perola's tamales in quantity. I mean no disrespect to these places as I love all of our local latino markets and I'm thankful to be able to purchase prepared tamales at all.

        This said, none of them are truly amazing. If you just want tamales and don't care about that, by all means purchase them. I don't know what the tamales are like in Texas, but if your heart is set on outstanding special occasion-worthy tamales, you must make them yourself. In my family we often buy tamales from local shops, but for special occasions like Candelaria, we make them ourselves. We always aim to make extra but they never last. Frankly though, we are not happy even with our own homemade tamales because of the quality of the masa here and this year we are going to attempt making our own.

        1. Thanks for all the suggestions. The idea is to have something fairly easy put together on Xmas eve and share an old family tradition with my partner who has very limited tamale experience. Because of schedule and travels tracking down ingredients and preparing them myself is not possible.

          I'm not picky with tamales as long as they are not falling apart and the meat quality is solid. Everyone has their own take on what the spicing should be which is part of the excitement of trying a new tamale. Emporio Latinho sounds like exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks again everyone!

          1 Reply
          1. re: abigllama

            Even if they generally don't sell in quantity, you may be able to work something out.

            DT

          2. A big huge thanks again to everyone for the help with this. Emporio Latino worked out great. The south american style tamale is very different from what I'm used to from Texas but very good in their own way.

            The ones from Texas were about half the size, in a corn husk, and were limited to a single highly spiced meat, and occasionally bean and cheese. For a meal I could easily mpw through about a half dozen of them.

            Emporio Latino's were a bit bland on the seasoning but had more going on with vegetables and chiles which added some interesting flavours. They are huge and was stuffed after 3 of them. Also I think they are wrapped in a banana leaf. Regardless they were very tasty and EL will be my go to spot for for tamales for now. I was a bit confused by the set up and how to prepare these and the woman in the kitchen was super helpful in talking me through it and explaining the different tamales they had. I look forward to checking out the other food they have to offer.

            1. A tamale update: The Christmas eve tradition continues! This year we got them from Salsa's in Kensington Market. I'm a big fan of the taquitos there and they mentioned they have tamales occasionally.

              These were the real deal and in the corn husk! Bought them frozen and they came out great after 20 minutes in the steamer. We got a mix of pork, chicken and veggie/cheese and they were all excellent. The pork was the winner of the bunch but everything was great. This is now my go to for tamales in Toronto.

              Emporio Latinho's tamales were good but the flavours and texture of Salsa's tamales are head and shoulders above 'em!

              3 Replies
              1. re: abigllama

                Just found out Salsas no longer sells tamales.

                1. re: abigllama

                  Oh no - I bought a group coupon just to try them!

                  1. re: chocabot

                    I bought the very same groupon in plans of buying them as well! The other food I've had there was excellent so it won't go to waste.

              2. Making tamales yourself is a bit of a pain. However, you might consider trying it (you'll need a stand mixer, lard, some nice corn husks - make sure they aren't infested with insects when you buy them - and good masa).

                Otherwise, you can also get them at La Tierra Azteca (Dufferin and Bloor). La Mexicanada in Bradford makes very good tamales. You might ask if they'd sell them to you in quantity for a discount.

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                La Mexicanada Restaurant
                32 Holland E, Bradford, ON L3Z1X2, CA

                3 Replies
                1. re: hari mirch

                  You can also get tamales at Mi Pueblo which is at 20 Bradstock Road

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                  Mi Pueblo
                  20 Bradstock Rd, Toronto, ON M9M1M8, CA

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    I have heard great things about the tamales at Tacos El Asador on Bloor. Does anybody vouch for that?

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                    Tacos El Asador
                    690 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L2, CA

                    1. re: justsayn

                      Thanks for the tip for Tacos El Asador, their tamales are fantastic! In a mild panic with the Salsas plan falling through made some calls to round up some tamales for Christmas Eve.

                      Tacos El Asador was low on tamales but the guy on the phone said they had chicken and veggie and would hold some. Apparently someone else showed before me, they thought it was me, and cleaned them out of all of their chicken tamales. They had some left with cheese and green chillies inside and they were excellent. They served it with small cut of salsa that was crazy spicy so a little went a long way. These were as good if not better than what we got at Salsas, so really looking forward to trying the other varieties. I was also told to call a few days ahead and they would have whatever I needed ready for pick up.

                      I tried to call La Tierra Azteca but there were some language issues on the phone. After asking a couple of different ways could not figure out of they had any tamales in stock but was assured that they do sell them.