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Gourmet Tamales In Los Angeles Area???

HoundDogz May 3, 2011 02:38 PM

When I used to work in downtown I would go to the 7th Street Market Place on Thursdays because they had their farmer's market and they had flowers, nuts, crepes, vegetables, and things like that for sale. They also had a gourmet tamale place. They were very expensive. I think $2.50 a piece. That's a lot considering I pay about 1.50 a piece where I get them at La Mascoda in East LA. I know purist would say that gourmet tamales are not authentic tamales and stuff like that. I love my La Mascoda tamales, they are just about the best I've had. I did like the gourmet ones a lot too. I think after awhile that gourmet tamale vendor stopped selling at the 7th Street Market Place. I have had other gourmet tamales at other farmer's markets but they were not as good as the 7th Street Market Place. I can't remember the name of that tamale vendor.

Why were they so good you ask? The dough or masa, was very soft, very soft. The Lamasoda are pretty soft too but these were more so. They had the best green sauce that they would poor over the tamales. They were so good but too expensive. I go to the South Pasadena farmer's market sometimes but never had the tamales there, I'll give them a try and see how they are. I'm sure they are expensive.

So my question is this are there any stores/bakeries that sell so-called gourmet tamales? I go to traditional Mexican places for tamales so they are not the so-called gourmet type of tamales. I love the regular Mexican kind like at La Mascota but I want to have some gourmet ones without paying $2.50 a piece. Maybe there is a bakery that sells them for a more reasonable price. I know not all are created equal also but just want to find something like that. My only gripe with Lamascoda is they will not put sauce on top of the tamale or won't sell it separate, the gourmet kind do.

Thank You,


Market Place Restaurant
1102 Lawrence St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

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  1. e
    EricDC RE: HoundDogz May 3, 2011 03:01 PM

    Well, I can tell you now, don't bother with Whole Foods'... theirs are crap.

    1. A5 KOBE RE: HoundDogz May 3, 2011 03:35 PM

      I am pretty sure that same vendor sells at the Hollywood FM. You can buy them hot or frozen right?

      If not, there is a vendor there that should satisfy. I enjoy the spinach and goat cheese tamales and the sweet corn ones.

      1 Reply
      1. re: A5 KOBE
        HoundDogz RE: A5 KOBE May 3, 2011 03:45 PM

        KOBE - I will try the ones at the South Pasadena farmer's market since I never tried those before. If they turn out very good then that's great otherwise I'll move on and try the Hollywood FM that you suggest. I go to the Racket Doctor, a tennis store in Los Angles, near Glendale, and on Sundays in the parking lot the next block over they had some good tamales too but they still were not quite as good as the ones at the 7th Street Market Place. Like I say I'll give the Hollywood FM a go too after I try the ones in the South Pas FM.

        Eric - I never even thought about Whole Foods for tamales but thanks for warning me on that. I think I'll stay away from that.

        Market Place Restaurant
        1102 Lawrence St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

      2. w
        wendorte RE: HoundDogz May 3, 2011 04:03 PM

        Also try the Long Beach Farmers Market tamales, long lines but worth the wait. The masa is fluffy, light and soft. They also drizzle the salsa on top.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wendorte
          HoundDogz RE: wendorte May 3, 2011 05:58 PM

          Thanks for the heads up. I'll give those a try. I bet those are good.

        2. f
          foodiemahoodie RE: HoundDogz May 3, 2011 04:57 PM

          Check out Tamara's Tamales on the west side.


          But you might mean downtown by Los Angeles.

          If you want a sit-down place - Rivera's.

          Tamara's Tamales
          13352 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodiemahoodie
            HoundDogz RE: foodiemahoodie May 3, 2011 05:58 PM

            I might try Tamara's. Thanks for the web site. They are 4.00 each so that's kinda a lot but maybe they are super big, so I'll give them a try.

            Rivera's never heard of it. I'll look it up. Thanks.

          2. n
            New Trial RE: HoundDogz May 4, 2011 01:42 AM

            My recollection from the days I worked down there is that the vendor was/is Corn Maiden. The website suggests it still pops in to the 7th Street Marketplace: http://www.cornmaidenfoods.com

            6 Replies
            1. re: New Trial
              HoundDogz RE: New Trial May 4, 2011 07:00 AM

              New Trial, thank you so much for remembering it was called Corn Maiden. Those tamales were awesome. Like I say I have tried other gourmet tamales such as at the farmer's market near the Racket Doctor tennis store in Los Angles near Glendale but technically LA and they were very good but the ones at 7th Street were even better.

              I'm so glad you recall the name and have the website. I'm going to their website now for more info!

              1. re: HoundDogz
                HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 4, 2011 07:05 AM

                New Trial, you know I'm reading their website and they state that they are a no lard, low fat tamale. I had no idea they were a low fat tamale because from the taste of it it did not seem that they were aiming for that since they are so taste. Yes they are light in texture but full on in taste.

                Went back to their website and see they are at the So Pasadena farmer's market. All these years I've been going to that FM I have seen them but did not know it was the same one as at the 7th Street Market Place. Now when I go to the FM tomorrow I'll try them out again. I don't go often but when I go to the So. Pas FM I see them but never had one but since they are there I will go to try them out.

                Thanks much!

                Market Place Restaurant
                1102 Lawrence St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                1. re: HoundDogz
                  HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 6, 2011 10:53 AM

                  I went to the South Pas FM and saw the Corn Maiden stand. I was thinking of getting one just to try it out and see if it was like I remembered it as when I used to get them at the 7th Street Market Place. I ended up not getting any because they were 3.50 each. Sure I could afford that but for $3.50 I thought it's not worth it even for testing purposes. Reason is also I made some tamales yesterday. First time in my life and honestly they did taste like the Corn Maiden tamales I got at 7th Street, at least from recollection. I wanted to buy one to compare but at 3.50 and from remembering how they tasted I think mine came pretty darn close so I skipped on buying one at the FM.

                  I made a green chili chicken tamale like the ones I had at the 7th SMP. I never went for those ultra fancy tamales at Corn Maiden at the 7 SMP any how. They were so good back then but not worth $3.50 to me. I think they used to be $2.50 when I got them at the 7th SMP but now $3.50, too much $$$.

                  Market Place Restaurant
                  1102 Lawrence St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                  1. re: HoundDogz
                    Dogbite Williams RE: HoundDogz May 7, 2011 12:07 PM

                    Corn prices have skyrocketed, so naturally tamales now are more expensive. You can go to futures.tradingcharts.com and click on the monthly corn chart to view the bad news.

                    1. re: Dogbite Williams
                      HoundDogz RE: Dogbite Williams May 7, 2011 06:49 PM

                      Interesting. I watch the futures and the stock market as well but I never watch the grains. I did not know that the corn futures were up. I watch metals and the indexes. Thanks for pointing out the corn going up. I never thought of checking the futures but that is a good way to find out the general trend. I guess it comes down to inflation.

                      1. re: Dogbite Williams
                        Peripatetic RE: Dogbite Williams May 8, 2011 01:41 AM

                        > Corn prices have skyrocketed, so naturally tamales now are
                        > more expensive.

                        A 5 lb bag of high-quality organic corn kernels currently costs around $3.15, and makes enough masa for around 60 generously proportioned tamales.* That's a little over five cents of corn per tamale. Based on the CBOT data, corn prices have increased approximately 300% from their five-year lows in 2006. However, unless my math is WAY off, that doesn't account for a significant increase in tamale prices.

                        * Based on online recipes, 1 lb of corn makes 1.5 lbs of masa dough which makes 12 large tamales.

              2. Kitchen Queen RE: HoundDogz May 6, 2011 10:10 PM

                Have you ever tried Gourmet Tamale Factory in San Fernando? Very fresh, light, airy. Chicken, beef, pork, corn, cheese/chili and a dessert one. They are $2.50 each but, very big. Delish!

                Gourmet Tamale Factory
                119 N MacLay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kitchen Queen
                  HoundDogz RE: Kitchen Queen May 7, 2011 06:51 PM

                  Thank you for the tip on those. I wonder if I have had those before. When I go to the Racket Doctor on Glendale Blvd. I go to the farmers market on Sunday after and I tried some great gourmet tamales too and they were $2.50 each. If those are the same ones then they are great too. I would pay $2.50 for the gourmet tamales at the Gourmet Tamale Factory. That is more reasonable than $3.50. Thanks for the tip!

                  Gourmet Tamale Factory
                  119 N MacLay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340

                2. HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 14, 2011 12:43 PM

                  Just went to two tamale places in East LA. One is Lamascota. I frequent that place but have not been there in a couple of months. Got three chicken and one beef. Ate one of the chicken. Went to Indiana Street Tamales (not sure if that is the proper name but I call it that), it's literally maybe 25 feet from the freeway underpass. Got 3 beef, one chicken. I love the chicken tamales at Lamascota but have never had the chicken at Indiana Street. I have to compare them. I love the beef at Indiana Street and have not had a Lamascota beef tamale in years because it was hit and miss there. No not in terms of taste but in terms of getting them there. Sometimes they would sell them and sometimes not. Well now they do on a regular basis I think. I have to try the beef from Lamascota and give it a compare to the ones from Indiana Street. I was in heaven eating the chicken from Lamascota today and the beef from Indiana Street. The corn goodness you taste from both of them is heavenly. I think you get more of a strong corn taste from the Indiana Street ones but don't get me wrong the dough of the Lamascota is excellent. Great masa they make it with. Don't know if they make it with Nixtamalized corn or Maseca (Masa Harina) at Lamascota but at Indiana I'm sure it's made of Nixtamalized corn.

                  I only wanted the gourmet kind because I love the super soft masa texture of those and the beautifully drenched green verde tamatillo sauce you get from the gourmet kind. But I ended up making my own green chili tamales and they were every bit as good as the gourmet green chile kind. I do plan on going to get some gourmet kind from the Atwater Village farmer's market though but when I'm not in need of green verde chicken (Pollo) tamales but want some red tamales then going to Lamascota and Indiana are the place to be.

                  1. DiveFan RE: HoundDogz May 14, 2011 06:33 PM

                    Here's my list of local tamale places that have previously had good reviews:

                    Tamara's are interesting but a little pricey, ditto with wholesale-direct Corn Maiden.
                    I've noticed that tamales marked 'La Indiana' have shown up at larger discount markets around here and don't look or taste that fresh.
                    People rave about the masa from Amapola Market but I don't know if they make their own tamales.
                    Off topic slightly, I've recently had some amazing (for prepackaged) tamales at Costco of all places - the green chile and cheese variety from Del Real. Look in the low refrigerator cases, Not the freezer. The masa was wonderfully soft after a short microwave reheat in the husk.

                    If you want good salsa verde, make your own! Tomatillos, fresh chiles, garlic and cilantro are cheap.

                    Amapola Market
                    13733 Garfield Ave, Paramount, CA 90723

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: DiveFan
                      happybaker RE: DiveFan May 14, 2011 09:03 PM

                      Believe it or not - you can also get Del Real tamales at Ralphs and Food 4 Less. I called the company and while the package sizes are different (i.e. the number of tamales) the tamales themselves are the same ones, same size.

                      Tasty stuff!

                      1. re: happybaker
                        HoundDogz RE: happybaker May 15, 2011 05:06 PM

                        I'm gonna go to Ralphs and see if I can get some of these. I can get at Costco but I would think that Ralphs you can buy fewer at a time. Thanks.

                        1. re: HoundDogz
                          happybaker RE: HoundDogz May 15, 2011 05:31 PM

                          Yup! At Ralphs I think it's half a dozen per bag, at Costco, one dozen. Good luck!

                      2. re: DiveFan
                        HoundDogz RE: DiveFan May 15, 2011 10:11 AM

                        Thanks for the info. Yep, I make my own verde with tomaltillos. Did for the first time last week and turned out great.

                        I'll give the tamales a try at Costco per your suggestion. The other day I was at Costco and saw them. I wonder if 'La Indiana' are the ones I bought yesterday at Indiana Street in ELA. Wonder if they make for discount markets also. Surprising that if they are they don't look or taste fresch because the ones I bought are great.

                        Corn Maiden sells to Bristol Farms but I don't think they will be less money than they are at any of the FMs so they'll be expensive.

                        Someone told me Sandra and Lolitas are really good. They are in Commerce or is it Montebello? I tried to go once but got there late and they sold out and never went back. I plan to tho.

                        1. re: HoundDogz
                          HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 15, 2011 10:32 AM

                          Just looked at the tamale list.

                          So Sandra's & Lolita's is on the list. Did not know that when I wrote my other post. Looks like I have to try it. There is also a Lolita's on the list. Wonder if Lolita broke from Sandra and started her own tamale business and Sandra got to keep the copyrighted named Sandra's & Lolita's.

                          That 'La Indiana" on that list is the same I went to yesterday. They were tasty and fresh. Maybe by the time they get to discount stores they loose their freshness, therefore taste. If you are in the ELA area go and try some at the actual place they make them. They are so good.

                          Glad to see La Mascota made the list. I'd say of the tamales I've tried so far La Mascota has the best chicken. They make a good beef tamale but for best beef goes to La Indiana. La Indiana makes a good chicken but the best goes to La Mascota.

                          I see Juanito's is on the list. They are not far from me. My grandma used to buy those a lot and my mom still does. When my sister is in town we get those for her. I don't really like those too much as they are very heavy and the masa dough is very dense. They are big though so you get a lot per tamale. My friend goes there too and likes them. They are tastey to a point. If I eat too much of the giant tamale I get tired of it quit. 1/3 of a Juanito tamale is enough.

                          I see in Alhambra there is one called Lupitas. I gotta try those and see how they are. Not sure but I think they used to show up to the farmer's market in Alhambra but I no longer see any tamale vendors there. I went last Sunday for the first time in a year or so. But since they have a store front in Alhambra I should go because Alhambra is close. It's a skip, hop and a jump away so to speak. Honestly I drive down Valley a lot and never saw a tamale place so I'm curious.

                          There used to be a place in Montebello called Grandma's Tamales. I went about 5 years or more ago. I recently searched them out but aparently they closed shop. Too bad. They were pretty good but I like Indiana and La Mascota better. I just thought to try again would be good but can't do now they are closed.

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

                          Juanito's Restaurant
                          2055 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92404

                          1. re: HoundDogz
                            HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 15, 2011 10:46 AM

                            I just looked up Lupita's and notice it's the Mexican restaurant on Fremont and Valley. I've been there about 15 years ago and liked it a lot. Not sure why I never went back. I should and will. I suppose it's a restaurant not a tamale manufacture but you know what if they make their own it could be good. I'll go.

                            I noticed that La Mascota tamales had gotten very hot spicy wise over the past few years. Before they were very mild and then all of a sudden they were spicy hot. Now they are tame again. I got some and they were very mild. I can eat spicy food, don't get me wrong but when something is very spicy you loose the fine taste of the food item and just taste hot and that is no good. I mean they were not so spicy I could not eat them but the hot taste was overbearing and I think the fine taste of the tamale before they made them spicy was lost. Now they are back to normal and they taste awesome. Even when they were getting spicy they were great but glad they are make to normal again. I have a feeling people were complaining they were getting too spicy and they backed off on that now.

                            Also Juanito's used to be pretty mild but now they turned up the heat some for whatever reason.

                            La Indiana are not spicy. They are just delicious.

                            By the way I have tried Central American tamales like Salvadoran and Guatemalan and I don't really like them at all. Give me a good old fashion Mexican tamale and I'm happy.

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

                            Juanito's Restaurant
                            2055 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92404

                            1. re: HoundDogz
                              HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 15, 2011 04:16 PM

                              Went to the Atwater Village FM since it's near the Racket Doctor tennis store. I almost got some gourmet tamales. They have one called Gustas Tamales I think it is. I almost got some but the past week and a half between making my own to buying tamales at Indiana Street and La Mascota I thought I had so many tamales that I won't appreciate the gourmet ones so I decided against it. I instead had a smoked pastrami sandwich at the BBQ place. It was great. Next week I am going to go back and then I will have some tamales. I had some there before but it's so long since I don't recall how they are.

                              1. re: HoundDogz
                                HoundDogz RE: HoundDogz May 22, 2011 02:05 PM

                                Today went back to the FM in Atwater village. Finally got the gourmet tamales. $3 a piece, more than I spend on tamales but went for it anyway. One chicken and one beef. Chicken in green sauce and beef in red. They were really big so honestly $3 was okay to pay for them. Actually so big I could have gotten away with just one but I did not know how big they'd be and I also wanted to try the chicken and beef. The chicken was dark meat. I don't care for dark meat. I like the texture of white meat better so I wish it was that. But because there are other flavors in the tamale it is okay it was dark meat, just prefer white. The guy said at the tamale store they have in the valley, I think Pacoima they are less. He was not sure, he thinks $2. I'd have to check to verify the real amount since he's not sure. He said because of rent to stay at the FM and the fees from the health department and stuff makes them ending up selling them for more at the FM than at the store they have.

                                I tell you the beef tasted great. The red sauce, the softness of the dough was perfect.

                                I still want to get some Del Real tamales to see how they are. One thing is buying store bought will prevent you from having them all saucy. No sauce from Del Real but at a tamale place at the FM or a place that makes them fresh such as this place's store in Pocoima will allow me to have the sauce. Man these were good.

                                1. re: HoundDogz
                                  sassille RE: HoundDogz May 23, 2011 06:38 PM

                                  Maybe I missed this in previous posts, but Mama's Hot Tamales on 7th St. near Alvarado are some of the best in town. She offers tamales from all over Central and South America. I am a sucker for Oaxacan style made with dark rich mole, but -- the sweet tamal of guava and a little zinger of cream cheese are to die for.
                                  The fun part is that she's just a hop from the Metro station on the south side of MacArthur Park. You might give it a try.

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

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