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Best tamales in OC?

mothrpoet Dec 17, 2009 04:17 PM

I've made my own tamales for 20 years, but can't this year, due to family problems. Where is the best place to buy tamales so I won't disappoint my family on Christmas morning? Preferably close to Tustin/Santa Ana. Thanks in advance!

  1. c
    chowager Jan 20, 2010 09:13 AM

    La Poblana Bakery 604 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, Ca 92868 (714) 771-4465. I believe it's a family-owned business. They have chicken, cheese, pork, and beef tamales. Very delicious!

    1. d
      degustateur Jan 12, 2010 12:45 AM

      Despite the relatively large number of solid Mexican foodways in OC, I’ve yet to discover what I would consider legendary tamales (like Juanito’s or La Indiana in LA County). Still, I can recommend three standouts that have served me well through the years:

      El Chilito
      15852 Pasadena Ave
      Tustin, CA 92780
      (714) 730-9182
      My personal OC favorite. Small mom ‘n pop shop. Absolutely wonderful tamales. Deliciously flavored, well-textured masa. Perfect balance of masa and exquisitely cooked meat fillings. Made in small batches and individually wrapped with care in Saran Wrap a nice touch for portability and ease of re-heating. Special order larger quantities in advance. Variable taste and consistency but always wonderful.

      El Toro Bravo Tortilleria
      727 West 19th Street
      Costa Mesa, CA
      (949) 650-8272
      Outstanding tamales made en masse for direct and bulk sale. House-blended masa is exceptional in taste and texture. Fresh meat fillings are superbly seasoned and cooked. Love their red chile pork. Prepare to wait your turn in a line that moves fairly quickly. Reliable consistency.

      Grande Bakery & Tortilla
      214 N Grand Ave
      Santa Ana, CA 92701
      (714) 547-1851
      Although pan dulces are their strong point, Grande’s tamales are very good and always fresh. The red chile beef and pork are equally good, but the star of the show is the green chile cheese. Tamales are made by hand continuously throughout the day. Extremely consistent in all respects. They open and close early, 6am–2pm and are closed on Mondays.

      2 Replies
      1. re: degustateur
        Madilyns Nov 28, 2010 12:09 PM

        I make tamales. I prepare my own masa, make my sauces and roast everything myself for the sake of quality control., Sea salts, fresh roasted peppers, homemade stocks... Always aiming for memorable. Saying that... Grande's green chile chicken tamales are wonderful. And the price is right too.

        Grande Bakery
        214 N Grand Ave, Santa Ana, CA

        1. re: Madilyns
          adamclyde Nov 28, 2010 07:52 PM

          I've been going to grande with my kids every Saturday morning since moving back to the area a few months ago (on degustateur's recommendation, i believe). Totally agree that the green chile is fantastic... Definitely my favorite.

          El toro bravo is also very good. A different kind of tamale, really. While grande's are fatter, with a lighter, softer dough, bravo's are a little firmer with a more toothsome masa. Bravo's masa has a deeper corn flavor too. But, both are great. I prefer bravo's chicken, but grande's rajas.

      2. s
        stuffed Dec 18, 2009 03:51 PM

        You might want to try La Perla del Amazona at the Santa Ana Zoo. No joke. You don't have to enter the zoo to patronize the restaurant, but excellent tacos and tamales at the zoo can't be beat. I was there two days ago and they had a sign up advertising their tamales by the dozen. http://santaanazoo.org/visinfoe4.htm

        1. OCEllen Dec 18, 2009 11:46 AM

          Just in Whole Foods this morning, their prepared food counter had a half dozen or so different types of tamales.

          1. Das Ubergeek Dec 18, 2009 11:32 AM

            Some Trader Joe's carry Corn Maiden tamales, frozen; I believe I've seen them at the Irvine Gelson's, too.

            1. BubblyOne Dec 18, 2009 04:10 AM

              El Toro Carniceria-Meat Shop was recommended to me for a party I was having a couple months ago. All of the food was tasty, including the tamales and very reasonable. I have never seen a place that busy either. If you go, good luck parking-it's a zoo.
              1340 W 1st St
              Santa Ana, CA 92703

              1. OCAnn Dec 17, 2009 07:30 PM

                While El Farolito in Placentia is a CH favourite, I'd avoid the tamales there...too much masa. Have you considered Costco? I believe they carry some during the season.

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