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Are there any decent vegetarian tamale options?

Jodie Dec 17, 2011 10:28 AM

We tried the vegan tamales at Whole Foods and they were just awful. Truly awful. We don't need vegan tamales but we do need vegetarian tamales. Are there any edible options?


  1. WildSwede Dec 28, 2011 05:33 PM

    I just wanted to mention tamales that I found recently. After picking up my brother at the airport a few Fridays ago, traffic was horrible, so we exited the 110 and took surface streets. Once on Figueroa (heading north from 26th) I mentioned that they have great taco trucks in front of the market (is it a Super A? Food For Less?) near there. Sure enough, there were abour 5 different vendors there. One guy selling Elote (we each got one) from a cart that he was wheeling down the street and another yelling "tamales, tamales, tamales" which he was selling from the back of his truck. I sent my bro the get us some tamales while I waited for the corn. The tamale guy sold 3 types: chicken, beef and cheese. $1 each!!! We got 3 of each. The chicken was delicious - very spicy, even for me. My brother, who can barely tolerate any spice, was dying. I was tolerating it. The beef was good. Now to the vegetarian option: the cheese - it had a piece of jalapano in the top and that was very spicy, but the rest was just cheese after the first inch or so. They were delicious. I would not hesitate to buy from him again.

    2 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede
      happybaker Dec 28, 2011 08:03 PM

      I think that's a Big Saver Market. Never shopped there but I often exit at fig to take surface streets and think I remember the signage. Here's the address --
      Store #6
      2619 N. Figueroa St.
      Los Angeles, CA 90065
      (323) 222-0113

      1. re: WildSwede
        will47 Dec 28, 2011 08:39 PM

        Did you check if they were made without lard?

      2. w
        will47 Dec 20, 2011 10:25 AM

        Are you looking to buy frozen ones to heat at home, or restaurants that carry them, or either?

        Mama's Hot Tamales has some pretty great vegetarian options, and has a range of different countries / styles represented. I believe you can also buy take-out ones to heat at home.

        The vegetarian vaporcito tamal at Chichen Itza is simple but delicious. They have a range of other interesting vegetarian options too.

        On the west side, Tamara's, as mentioned above, is pretty good. Somewhere that was represented at The Gold Standard this year (maybe Guelaguetza, though I don't see it on their menu) also had an excellent vegetarian tamal.

        I like the Corn Maiden ones (at various farmers markets) well enough... however, those might be the ones that Whole Foods carries.

        La Guera Tamalera ("White Girl Tamale Maker" is her tagline) has some vegetarian options. A bit expensive, and to my taste, maybe a little dry. http://www.gttamales.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: will47
          ipsedixit Dec 24, 2011 10:55 AM

          I will ditto the rec for the vegetarian tamales at Chichen Itza. Had some this morning, and even as leftovers, these were outstanding.

          1. re: ipsedixit
            Jodie Dec 25, 2011 09:52 AM

            Thanks for the recommendations. We ended up getting six chili cheese tamales from Cinnamon. By far the best vegetarian tamales we have had -- even better than Corn Maiden. They were actually, in and of themselves, good tamales. The green sauce is excellent by the way. Perfectly tangy and spicy.

        2. mrshankly Dec 19, 2011 02:46 PM

          The cheese tamales at Juanitos' Tamales are exceptional. Everyone who I've introduced them to falls in love and raves about their cheese/chile tamales.


          4214 Floral Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90063

          1. e
            ebethsdad Dec 18, 2011 01:04 PM

            Corn Maiden is a tamale company that has booths in several Farmers' Markets. They have a number of vegetarian options including a delicious black bean, red jalapeno and pepper jack cheese creation. Not sure where you're located, but the Studio City Farmers' Market hosts Corn Maiden on Sunday morning. You can buy tamales and sauce to go.

            1. k
              KellyOfEchoParkNow Dec 18, 2011 11:30 AM

              Try La Guera Tamales if you're ordering for the holiday or a party, etc. Amazzzzzzing jalapeno and cheese vegetarian tamales! Also Organic. she is located in Echo Park but offers free delivery.

              2 Replies
              1. re: KellyOfEchoParkNow
                happybaker Dec 18, 2011 08:06 PM

                I think one key factor, that was not discussed - was price.

                I looked at the La Guera website and the tamales look lovely - but they are $5 a piece. A piece!

                The Corn maiden, even at Farmers markets, is cheaper. And Del real tamales (the ones sold at costco and also, ralphs, food for less) $1.25 - $1.50 a piece. And the green chile and cheese is nice!

                I know there are many more options out there - but for easy access, had to give these.

                1. re: happybaker
                  KellyOfEchoParkNow Dec 18, 2011 11:35 PM

                  Totally hear you on the price issue, but the quality is well worth it and is a great option for eco-eaters. One tamale is enough for me, so spending $5 for a meal is actually pretty darn good! I am not at all a fan of the grocery store buys, and I like to supprt the local economy, so it was a good choice for me. And so I ordered a dozen, which will impress my family at christmas for sure! (She also hooks it up with organic sour cream and near-organic salsa).

              2. c
                chinchi Dec 17, 2011 04:25 PM

                Tamales Alberto on Temple in the Echo Park area offers vegetarian tamales. They have a mixed vegetable, cheese and chile, bean and cheese, and spinach and cheese. You might want to call in advance to see if they have the vegetarian type you want to pick up.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chinchi
                  silverlakebodhisattva Dec 17, 2011 10:23 PM

                  There's green corn tamales, which I believe are vegetarian, though not vegan; it's past the season for them at El Cholo, but not at some other places...

                2. c
                  Clyde Dec 17, 2011 04:09 PM

                  we get cheese and jalapeno enchiladas from cacao mexicatessan and they're awesome. i'd call to make sure you can get them b/c coincidentally i was in there today and they seemed to be out.

                  1. c
                    catzen Dec 17, 2011 03:25 PM

                    The Tucson Tamale Company ships their tamales and I think they are wonderful. I particularly like the green corn and the Tucson. For vegan choices, the New Dehli is very good. http://www.tucsontamale.com/Tamales.html

                    1. s
                      sushigirlie Dec 17, 2011 03:07 PM

                      Try Tamara's Tamales. http://www.tamarastamales.com/menupag...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: sushigirlie
                        wienermobile Dec 17, 2011 03:11 PM

                        Sushigirlie what do you recommend at Tamara's?

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

                        1. re: wienermobile
                          sushigirlie Dec 19, 2011 12:08 AM

                          I don't really recommend anything. I just thought it was worth trying.

                          1. re: sushigirlie
                            moto Dec 19, 2011 01:47 AM

                            agree, they're worth trying. their selection changes, but the vegetarian ones can be the simple green chile + cheese, or have fillings based on squash or mushroom. we've enjoyed pretty much anything we've tried there.

                            1. re: moto
                              wienermobile Dec 19, 2011 11:26 AM


                      2. Servorg Dec 17, 2011 10:36 AM

                        Don't know if this place is a hike for you, or not, but Cinnamon Vegetarian has good vegetarian and vegan tamales.

                        Cinnamon Vegetarian Restaurant
                        5511 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042

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