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Dec 22, 2011 09:20 PM

Good Tamales in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville?

Mrs. Rapini and her visiting mother just got an urge for tamales on Christmas Eve.

Help me, 'hounds. Where might I find good tamales in the East Bay on short notice?


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  1. Tamales Unicos de Cuernavaca has good takeout tamales. For earlier discussion: (ignore the map on that post


    Tamales Unicos de Cuernavaca
    5751 Market St, Oakland, CA 94608

    4 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler

      I just had a pork tamale yesterday - very good! moist and flavorful. if you want it spicier - ask for the chili sauce. $2.25 plus tax ends up at $2.47 IIRC.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          5751 Market St, Oakland was still open last week. not sure about the E14th spot in the link above.

      1. re: hyperbowler

        Unicos is tops and absurdly cheap.

        Tamales Unicos de Cuernavaca
        5751 Market St, Oakland, CA 94608

      2. The Tamale Queen (Maria Martinez) on Fruitvale in Oakland near the BART station. Except that I drove past a few weeks ago and it looked like she might have closed. Does anyone have current information on this?

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          I was wondering the same thing. I have not seen her this year. Up until this year, she had been selling her wares outside the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale in early February. This year she was not there.

        2. I enjoy the tamales at Picante.

          1. On Fruitvale Avenue (Oakland) is a trailer cart in a parking lot between Fruitvale Market and Oasis Market, just east of International as shown on the Google satellite. East 15th Street dead ends into this parking lot. This is a signalized intersection, which is convenient when exiting the lot. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the cart.

            I've enjoyed the pork and the cheese tamale, baggies of salsa are offered for to go orders. They also offer papusas.

            1. La Borinqueña in Old Oakland has pork ones made with lard and also totally vegetarian ones
              If you wanted to hop over to sf there is a fantastic grocery store in Mission that has several types - Mexican, Salvadorean znd Nicaraguan that are among the best I've ever had

              4 Replies
              1. re: fruti

                Second La Borinquena- I get a dozen every year. They may be a good bet for a last-minute purchase, as they are always available on the regular menu (people were ordering them for dine-in when I picked mine up yesterday afternoon) and they often have frozen tamales on sale just after the New Year. Buen provecho!


                La Borinquena Mex-Icatessen
                582 7th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                1. re: fruti

                  There was a place around the corner from La Borinquena that sold tamales by the dozen. La Michoacana.

                  Not sure if they're still in business, but I liked them better than La Borinquena's

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    Was that the house w/ the tamale sign out front? That sign's been gone for a few months now.

                    1. re: kc72

                      yes, that's the one :(

                      hopefully the proprietor retired. he seemed like a really nice guy.