We usually hit up Tamales Betty whenever my wife is craving tamales. I won't say they're the best in SD, but I haven't found any better ones so far. They used to be located in Barrio Logan but moved to Chula Vista a couple of years ago.
Chula Vista, CA 91910
El Indio in Old Town has some decent tamales...shield guard up for flame throwers.
Costco has them..
Tamales Ancira has them for about $1+ a tamales...about 30 minutes drive time from Old Town.
Las Cuatro Milpas is an excellent call but could be pricey for large group.
They make excellent cheese and Chile tamales for non meat eaters, which you will be a hero to some in your group.
re: Beach Chick
+1 for Chick Rec...sidekick Salty is locked and loaded.
I usually take a large amount home to SB for the holidays. They sell uncooked frozen (the Aztecs knew the tamal was the original ideal freezer food), and remind me exactly of the type an old Californiana Auntie used to make, down to the single black olive in each. I like to steam them, and then eat them.
El Indio tips: it's fine if you get there before 9am and stick to their breakfast burritos, tamales or happen to be there when the tortilla oven is rolling for a free one off the presses. Don't worry people, the rest of the menu and "experience" is dead to me, too.