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Tamales in Houston?

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Any ideas? Inside the Loop if possible.

thanks

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  1. Try TX Tamale Company at 3340 Fountainview between 59 and Richmond. 713-953-1181. They sell tamale only, frozen or fresh. Closed on Sundays. I used to just pop by and pick up a few for the road.

    (There's another location that I haven't been to at 8841 Knight Rd.)

    Hope this helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: HLing

      I will second TX Tamale Co. (love their black bean tamales). Used to pick them all the time on the way home from work.

      Great thing is that sell them in stores frozen and it is almost the same, but nothing is better than picking them up at their Fountainview location.

    2. You should definitely try one of Berryhill's several locations. I'm partial to the bean and beef tamales personally. The Westheimer location is my favorite; they also do pretty good fish tacos.

      The tamales are also available frozen to take home. All you have to do is steam them when you are ready. They work great for parties and keep well.

      Russell

      1. Berryhills is a yuppie hole. I've never tried H-Ling's recommendation, but I will.

        We always get our X-mas tamales at a place in the Heights called Mexicatessen. I can't remember the street, but they are in the phone book (I have to look it up every December). They are worth the trip.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LazyMF

          Hi LazyMF!

          Just saw your post about Dumpling King....Sad. There's a shortage of Tea-Smoked Duck in this world!

          As for Tamales, the best ones I've had in Houston were the ones that came to my door on weekend mornings: Home made, fresh, and sincere. I have no way of finding those people (probably one of my neighbors)ahead of time. It's just random, spontaneous chow. (I lived in those apartments called Westpark Gardens, next to that huge weekend flea market)

          Hope to hear good news re: tamales..

          1. re: LazyMF

            So what's the deal on Berryhill tamales (this question is not just for LazyMF or RussellH, neither of whom posts anymore, I think).

            I was reading the eater.houston interview with the owner of Berryhill's and realized I'd never had the tamales. Walter Berryhill was a famous street vendor in Houston back in the 30s and 40s who sold tamales and they supposedly have his recipe, but they're known more for fish tacos. I first learned of Walter Berryhill from Robb Walsh's Tex Mex Cookbook.

            I've only been once, fish tacos are not my thing and the vibe was a little too much like Chili's or Joe's Crab Shack for me.

            Anybody had their tamales?

            1. re: brucesw

              A couple of years ago a friend recommended Berryhill tamales to me so I thought I'd try them. Personally I didn't care for them or anything else I sampled. I've never been back. The margaritas were ok.

              1. re: tlegray

                I see where Berryhill brags they do not use lard! Something tells me that's not the way Walter would have done it. I'm going to have to try them.

                I love tamales.

          2. A few other Chowhounders and I did a tamal run a while back and we all agreed that Alamo Taco & Tamales were the absolute best.

            And we're not the only ones that think so.

            Witness these reviews:

            http://www.yelp.com/biz/alamo-tamale-...

            5 Replies
            1. re: Jaymes

              Alamo tamales are very good. I like the spicy ones better then the non-spicy. I also like Dona Tere tamales wrapped in banana leaves. Their Mex tamales aren't as good as Alamo in my opinion. I keep threatening to make them myself but they are allot of work and Alamo is just a few miles from my home.

              1. re: tlegray

                Alamo are the best I've ever had, if you get the limited supply of hand-made ones instead of the machine extruded. I'm not that fond of Dona Tere because of the ratio of masa to filling. After Alamo, my favorite tamales in town are the Salvadoran tamales at La Roca. They also make Mexican tamales for many carnicerias around the area that are very good.

                1. re: brucesw

                  I'll have to try La Roca. I don't buy tamales very often my Aunt makes them so that's where I get my fix. I keep saying I'm going to make them and well so far it hasn't happened.

                  My experience at Dona Tere wasn't like yours. We did try several kinds and only liked the Salvadorean (they were the only ones wrapped in banana leaves) We haven't been back though. I guess that says something

                  I've also had the tamales at Hugo's they were very good but they were fish. My family makes pork, green chili & cheese, bean & cheese, and the sweet ones with raisins (not my favorite).

                  1. re: tlegray

                    Yes, I would like to order a dozen pork and a dozen green chili and cheese, please.

                    Let me know when I should come by and pick them up.

                    Thanks.

                    <wink>

                    1. re: DoobieWah

                      lol well family lives in CA. My aunt's hyper so will make just a few dozen just because she's bored. I fly back every 2-3 months so I get my fix then. I have made them before but not in awhile and I should even if it's just a few dozen, so I don't lose the touch, but it still hasn't happened.

            2. Central Market, on the warmer shelves next to the fresh sandwich section. also, guadalupano on dunlavy.

              1. The holidays are almost upon us. Time to begin my annual tamal quest.

                Thus far, like others, I've found Alamo to be the best in town.

                But I thought I'd bump this up to see if anyone has spotted any new contenders for our Christmas tamales.

                1. For years I have searched for pork tamales like my grandmother made. They were the best! Well, I have finally found the place that comes awfully close. It is Gerardo's, 609 Patton, 713-699-0820 and they have pork, beef, chicken, bean tamales for sure. The meat and masa are spiced to perfection with generous meat filling. They also have steam tables of authentic Mexican food that make great carry out lunches. I haven't tried their breakfast tacos, but I will bet they are good too. The place is formerly a little "tiendita" where they added some booths for people that want to eat there. It is a real "hole in the wall" find-nothing fancy, but food is delicious and economical.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: anness

                    Here's a link to an earlier thread about tamales in Houston. There is some considerable discussion about Gerardo's.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673313

                    Christmas is coming. Tamal season. Time to be thinking about putting in our annual orders.

                    Feliz Navidad, y'all.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Why can't any of these places be closer to me? *sigh*

                    1. re: tlegray

                      Ya beat me to it by seconds! Good list. I have sampled 5 of those, including Radical Eats, which I loved. I wasn't even aware Goode Co. Seafood had a tamale on the menu. I think that's up next for me, or maybe it's time for a Tamale Tour or a Tamale Smackdown?

                      BTW, I tried Berryhill a couple of months ago. Forgot to make any notes or take pictures but I thought they weren't bad - not my favorite by any means, not traditional Tex-Mex seasoning, but I'd eat them again. Good ratio of filling to masa as I recall.

                      1. re: brucesw

                        I've been to five of those also. In fact a couple of years ago, we did a mini tamale crawl hitting Dona Tere, Alamo and Gerardos in a single morning.

                        I liked Alamo the best and have been going there regularly ever since, (see the Dairymaids thread).

                        Regarding the salsas though, Gerardos has the best. I especially like the neon orange habanero stuff. Really really good.

                        1. re: DoobieWah

                          Alamo is definitely the best when it comes to Tex-Mex tamales. I remember I liked Gerardo's a lot but only had them once - they don't offer them year round, do they?

                          When it gets away from Tex Mex, it's harder to pick a favorite or best with all the different styles. I remember that little meat market down in DIckinson that did the Oaxacan style was awesome but I believe I read they're no longer in business.

                          I'm looking for a source for tamales dulce for a Christmas pot luck the week of Christmas. Anybody have any recs? Does Alamo do tamales dulce?

                            1. re: brucesw

                              Actually, they do. Although not on the menu, they do sell them. Might be seasonal, but they have them now.

                          1. re: brucesw

                            We are not a fan of Berryhill either. Dona Tere (in banana leaves) or Hugo's are our favorites but we usually get Alamo as a matter of convience and because we do like them.

                            1. re: brucesw

                              I'm about ready for another Tamal Run. Sign me up. I've got to get into town to Alamo to pick up several dozen for our Navidad anyway.

                              1. re: Jaymes

                                I'm definitely interested. How was this done before?

                                1. re: brucesw

                                  Interested! Was just going to suggest another Tamale run!

                                  Someone just told me at work that Arandas on 59 North right outside downtown has good Tamales, though the rest of their food is not good. (In fact, this someone says someone else at work has been passing the tamales off as homemade!)

                                  1. re: neointima

                                    Well, before, it was pretty easy and spectacularly low-key. Doobs just said why don't we meet up and eat some tamales, and we did.

                                    But speaking of "homemade," that reminds me... At Alamo, they have both the homemade and the machine-made. If you want the home-made, and of course you do, you have to specify that.

                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                      Well I think I can handle that. Was this the Alamo, Gerardo's, Dona Tere DoobieWah mentioned upthread? So where this time? The usual suspects or some new places? I've never had them from Arandas. I think my three top would be Alamo, Gerardo's and Radical Eats and I'm open to hitting any, all, or none of those. I'll pass on Dona Tere.

                                      Incidentally I happened to remember tis the season for hallacas, Venezuelan holiday tamales. There are four places that I know of that have them. I may head up in the next couple of days to the one in Humble I learned about too late last year to try theirs.

                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                        ok, jaymes, I finally got to Alamo on Berry to try out their tamales (pork, hand made) and I must say they are very good, though at $10.99/doz are a bit pricey. Mom liked the fact that they were not as spicey as Gerardo/s, but I prefer the spicer ones and the $9/dz price. Feliz Navidad, everyone. PS: if the machine made tamales are the same as sold at HEB, then all I can say is Oy...no thanks.

                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                          If we can get enough people, maybe we could each bring samples from one or two of each of the places on the top 10 list noted above, then meet up somewhere and have a sample tasting of each. No way I can eat ten tamales though...well, I could...but probably oughtn't...

                                          What say ye Jaymes?

                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                            I say pick ye a time and place and let's get this pelota rolling!

                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                              Well, subsequent to my post above, an old buddy called and said he was with a lady making real "pig's head tamales" and did I want some? $8/dozen he says so I replied "I'll take two dozen."

                                              "Make that three dozen.'

                                              "Aw hell, let's just say four dozen.'

                                              "Wait, at $8/each, I'll take five dozen so no one has to make change."

                                              So Saturday morning, my buddy dropped off five dozen, fresh from the steamer still warm classic homemade tamales. While they could have been both spicier and greasier for my taste, they're excellent.

                                              I have two dozen left for Christmas. The kid and I split a dozen pretty quick and I gave one dozen to my mom and another to a friend.

                                              Nevertheless, I could still be easily convinced to join this expedition, but at this time of year, I will suggest we wait until after Christmas - maybe the Saturday between Christmas and New Years?

                                              However, if we want to do it before Christmas I suggest next weekend as I learned my lesson about waiting until the last minute from the Great Flying Saucer Pie Debacle of 2012.

                                              In either case, as I suggested above, we should see who's in and divvy up the chores so that everyone brings a sample from as many of the Top 10 listed above, (or anywhere else they like for that matter), and take just a bite or so of each. Preferably somewhere with beer...maybe a centrally located ice house?

                                              There's my two cents, but I'll leave it up to y'all...so, Jaymes, where am I supposed to be, when and with what?

                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                Well Jaymes, it looks like it's just you and me again. (By the way, *I'm* wearing deodorant, so it must be you!)

                                                Seriously, no one else wants to set aside two hours some Saturday to eat tamales with fellow Chowhounders? Really? No one?

                                                I have to admit, I'm a little hurt.

                                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                                  Hey, I would love to come in and partake of the Tamale Christmas Sampling Feast. When and where? I can bring Genaro's pork 'males. Yum-yum, mouth is watering now.

                                                  1. re: anness

                                                    It sounds great to me. And, I have to buy several dozen for Christmas so I'm going into town anyway. Anness can bring Genaro's or whatever. Last time, we ate out on that Alamo patio, and had tamales from several locations, and nobody hassled us about bringing in food, so that's probably a good idea. We can compare the tamales and hot sauces, since, Doobs, you loved that neon orange salsa from Gerardo's.

                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                      Which Saturday? 12/8, 12/15 or 12/29? what time? Which Alamo location, Berry St. or Navigation? Looking forward to meeting fellow Chowhounders.

                                                      1. re: anness

                                                        I suggest making it the 29th. I also suggest getting a pretty good head count and seeing if one of the more upscale joints, (Hugo's, Goode Co, RDG, Berryhill, or TQLA) would be willing to host us.

                                                        Let me know how many we expect to have, and I'll contact them and tell them what we have in mind and see if they would be willing to give us some space and sell us some of *their* tamales and a few adult beverages to wash them down. I'm not a big drinker, but a good cold beer and a bite or two of ten or twelve different tamales with some new friends sounds like a reasonable way to spend the last Saturday afternoon of 2012. And those places are all pretty central.

                                                        Also, we might be able to entice Lambsy into joining us.

                                                        Thoughts?

                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                          Sounds good to me if these venues allow outside food to be brought in. Thanks DW, will wait to hear from you.

                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                            Well, unfortunately, I'm going to be out of town on the 29th. Up in Lexington (I think you've heard of that, DW, right?) for a family Christmas gathering.

                                                            A gathering at which (as I may have mentioned) I am responsible for providing the tamales.

                                                            So I'm definitely going to have to make my tamal run long before the 29th.

                                                            But if that works for all y'all, then go ahead. I'll just bop on into Alamo sometime over the next week or so, and put about 8 dozen into the freezer to keep until it's time to get on the highway north.

                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                              Tamale Crawl without Jaymes?

                                                              Unpossible!

                                                              So do we try to get something together for tomorrow or wait until next weekend? I'm game either way. If we do it tomorrow though I suggest we go back to Jaymes' original suggestion to meet at Alamo on Berry. They won't care if we bring some samples from elsewhere, I'm pretty sure.

                                                              Let's hear from the rest.

                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                I didn't want to be the lone voice of dissent, esp since I'm new to the group, but I can't make it for 12/29 either. Will it be near impossible to get Tamales in January?

                                                                Otherwise, I guess I vote for 12/15 after 5PM... But if something else works better for everyone else, I'll just have to admire the photos and descriptions!

                                                                1. re: neointima

                                                                  We will certainly try to accommodate you Neo. The 29th is off so no worries there.

                                                                  The after January question is that almost all of these places make tamales year round. They're just a Xmas tradition for a lot of us so that's the urgency there.

                                                                  The after 5 part will be a bit tougher. The tamale factory type places, (Alamo, Gerardos, etc.) I think are long done by then. Tamales are at their very best late morning or early afternoon directly from the steamer. They're fine warmed up but definitely not the same. (My apologies if I'm rehashing what you already know.)

                                                                  Maybe we're best to table this until after the 1st when things die down a bit? (I mean, I already have my Xmas tamales.) <wink>

                                                                  But I'm up for the 15th if that's what y'all want to shoot for.

                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                    How about I just go get our Christmas tamales now, and then sometime after the first of the year, we take our time and plan a Tamal Crawl when there's no hurry?

                                                                    And yes, tamales are one of my favorite Christmas traditions of the US southwest. Tamal-making is a labor-intensive endeavor best undertaken by many hands and Mexican families host "tamaladas" (a tamal-making party) in December to prepare several hundred tamales to be sure everyone has enough for the holidays. The extended family gathers at someone's home - usually the abuelita's house, but if her kitchen isn't large, then at the home of the relative with the biggest kitchen. It's also of utmost importance that there be an accommodating living room with plenty of comfortable seating and a large television. To the uninitiated, that might not seem important, but tradition dictates that, while the female relatives are all in the kitchen making tamales, the men sit around the living room watching sports on TV, drinking adult beverages, enjoying the aromas coming from the kitchen, tasting tamal samples and offering opinions on all things great and small - the tamales, politics, and who's going to win the Mexico Primera Division Soccer Championship .

                                                                    The first of the tamales are often eaten on Christmas Eve, after the family gets back from Midnight Mass.

                                                                    Tamales are one of my favorite traditions of Christmas in the Southwest - along with the Posada, and the traveling nativity figures that slowly work their way around the living room, finally arriving in the stable at the appropriate time. Naturally, the three kings don't get there until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

                                                                    Sometimes life is pretty darn terrific.

                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                      As you wish.

                                                                      I will quibble with one point you made. You said, "The first of the tamales are often eaten on Christmas Eve, after the family gets back from Midnight Mass."

                                                                      I would suggest that the first tamales are eaten pretty darn quickly after they come out of the steamer. Maybe they're not supposed to be.

                                                                      But they are.

                                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                        Well, yes, of course you're certainly right about that. For one thing, all those men that have been sitting around the living room inhaling that aroma are not about to wait for several weeks. Or even several hours.

                                                                        I suppose I meant the first of the "official Christmas tamales."

                                                    2. re: DoobieWah

                                                      Tamales are one of the few things I just don't like!

                                                      1. re: Lambowner

                                                        But you like us, right? And Alamo has a pretty good selection of other tasty Mex treats. I don't care what day. Pick one. DW? Does it matter to you?

                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                          Whoa whoa whoa! I haven't been on for a few days, and clearly I missed the RSVP deadline! When and where are we talking about? I'm also happy to help out with the buying chores...

                                                          1. re: neointima

                                                            So Hounds, we gonna do this thing or what?

                                                            1. re: DoobieWah

                                                              Yes yes yes! What do you think of planning for February to give us some time to plan, or should we just keep it informal? (2/2, 2/23 in particular look good for me).

                                                              We live on Fannin in the Museum district in an apt building that has some nice common space that can be reserved if that serves as a good central area to meet....?

                                                              1. re: neointima

                                                                I nominate Neointima to be in charge.

                                                                Do I hear a second?

                                                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                  Jaymes?

                                                                  Where are you Jaymes?

                                                                  Neo, I have a class next Saturday, the 26th and also Sat and Sun, Feb 23 & 24.

                                                                  Other than that, I'm open...(and almost out of tamales!).

                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                    I'm pretty open as well, and madly enthusiastic about the whole idea. My only glitch is that I won't be available from Feb 6th to about the 11th or so. Other than that, just let me know when and where to pick up my selection of sample tamales and where to take them.

                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                      So... it sounds like 2/2 is a good day for at least Doobie and Jaymes...? How do we communicate off the board?

                                                                      Also, since I'm not from here nor do I have a Mexican background, would love some tips about where/what to get for accoutrements for Tamales!

                                                                      1. re: neointima

                                                                        You don't really need to get any "accoutrements" other than the various sauces/salsas that come with. Alamo Tamales in particular has a neon orange sauce that's outstanding. But they all offer various sorts of sauces along with their tamales. Other than that, I can't think of anything you need.

                                                                        And one good way to contact me is through another board where I post - e Gullet - and they allow private messages. You can always reach me there.

                                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                                          Just to clarify, it's Gerardo's that has the neon salsa, but it will definitely be on the "To Do List" anyway.

                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                            Oh, that's right, Doobs. I just remembered how good it was. A little foggy on where we got it!

                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                              Okay, folks. Tamal Crawl - Feb 2, 10am. Starting off at Dona Tere on Beechnut.

                                                                              Be there or be square.

                                                                              http://www.tamalesdonatere.net/

                                  2. Met my mom and OtherBrotherDarrell at Goode Company Seafood for lunch on Saturday, and had the seafood tamales and some baked oysters.

                                    The tamales come three per order and wrapped in a banana leaf. I saw shrimp and crab in a moist fluffy masa.

                                    I am sporting a bit of a head cold so my taste buds are dulled, but they seemed very good and I will definitely try them again when my faculties return.

                                    The oysters seemed dense and too heavy, but again, it might just be me.

                                    P.S. I've now had six of the Top Ten List and aim to close it out in the first part of the year.

                                      1. The other day I was at Kroger's and they were giving samples of their tamales and I thought they were good. I took a 10 pack home where Hubby, Daughter, and I did another taste test. All agreed the flavor was there but there was a problem with the masa. I didn't think they were cooked enough so I steamed the others for an extra 20 min. and we were satisfied. There's was some uneveness in the masa meat ratio in some of the tamals but the majority were perfectly balanced. They are not uniform size nor did they look like they were machine made. Others are still better but Kroger's is just around the corner so I know I'll be buying them again.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: tlegray

                                          I'll try them. What section are they in?

                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                            In the deli prepared foods section. I bought 10-pack in a black plastic tray that said '10 for $10' in bright red letters, if I remember correctly. You can also buy a 5-pack. They are in this weeks mailer on pg. 6 but it doesn't show the packaging.

                                            1. re: tlegray

                                              i saw some yesterday at the Wirt/Westview store in the hot deli. I was picking up some surprise fried chicken wings for the wifeacita after scoring some Modelo Especial and vino. We love Kroger fried chicken, nicely seasoned, but of course kinda like BBQ, timing is everything. I'm guessing the tamales are a seasonal, limited time offer.

                                          2. re: tlegray

                                            UPDATE: the Kroger tamales that I steamed, once cooled and reheated ended up dry. Doubt I will steam them again.

                                          3. Had lunch at Sylvia's today and purposely ordered a combo plate with two tamales and specified one chicken and one pork, (the Robbstown platter).

                                            They were okay but to be honest, nothing special. Both were similar in that they had a good smooth masa, but very little filling them. The flavor was pretty much just masa and the gravy poured over them. They weren't bad, but certainly not up to Alamo, Gerardo's or even Luna's standard.

                                            Next time, I'm going back to their carne guisada which is pretty darned good.

                                            1. Bumpin' up Jaymes' post!

                                              TAMAL CRAWL 2013!
                                              This Saturday 2/2/13
                                              10am. Starting off at Dona Tere on Beechnut.

                                              Be there or be square. Or just without Tamales. Or without tamales with us.

                                              http://www.tamalesdonatere.net/

                                              7 Replies
                                                  1. re: neointima

                                                    Okay, so we went tamal crawling yesterday. Still wiping the grease off of my chin.

                                                    We started at Dona Tere. An interesting note is that most meat tamales have about the same amount of meat filling. But tamales made in Central Mexico, around Mexico City, etc., are fat and fluffy, with lots more dough than those made in the north of Mexico (and Texas). Dona Tere's are this style. We sampled pork with red sauce, one sweet one, one with mole (and I don't remember if that one was pork, beef or chicken), and one Oaxacan style, wrapped in banana leaves. I thought they were all delicious, but, of the ones I sampled (didn't try the Oaxacan), the pork with red sauce was my favorite, and I think the favorite of the assembled group, as well (although I'm hoping they'll show up here and either confirm or deny that).

                                                    And then to Gerardo's. These are the thinner "tamales norteƱos" - northern style - and I can't help loving them more. These are the ones that you hold up by the tail, and they plop out onto your plate. Some of the group sampled quite a few different things here, and hope they share their opinions. As for the tamales, I had pork, with some of that neon orange hot sauce that Doobs mentions. I thought these tamales were excellent, and you can't go wrong.

                                                    And then on to Alamo. Oh my Dios. These are now my clear favorite. Unlike Gerardo's and Dona Tere, Alamo offers machine-made tamales as well as hand-made, so you have to be careful when you order. The hand-made are much more pricy, but I think they're worth it. They are not as spicy as Gerardo's but, since we live in a household full of little kids, that's fine with me, because we can all enjoy the Alamo tamales, and the grownups that want them a little more "pica" can add some hot sauce. Like, you know, some of that orange hot sauce that we got when we stopped off at Gerardo's.

                                                    A note for those of you that love these kinds of "hole-in-the-wall" joints: Alamo is building a new, big, modern restaurant immediately next door to the small, tumble-down shack from which they've been dishing up tamales for some fifty years. A LOT of atmosphere is going to be lost when they move into that new, modern building. Working your way through that rabbit's warren buffet line to get your tamales is half the fun.

                                                    Go now.

                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                      I was hoping you would start a new thread. The extra "a" in this thread title makes my OCD hurt.(EDIT: Within the hour of my posting this, the mods deleted the extra "a" in "tamalaes". THANK YOU! EDIT2: Just got an email from Jaymes that she asked the mods for the spelling correction - Thank You Jaymes! )

                                                      What a terrific morning we had on Saturday. There was nothing we could have done that would be better than chowing on tamales with friends new and old.

                                                      As noted, we agreed to meet a Dona Tere on Beechnut at 10am. I arrived a few minutes early and wandered over next door to the Arandas Bakery and scooped up a Coke and a dozen fresh flour tortillas. As I was standing in line behind several trays of incredible pastries, I see a sign that says "Tamales Chicken or Pork $3.50 1/2 Doz."

                                                      So what's a Chowhound to do?

                                                      Buy a half dozen pork tamales of course!

                                                      So anyway, I drop the goodies off at the car and wander inside Dona Tere where I find Dr. & Mrs. Neo patiently waiting for us old folks. We make quick introductions and settle in to chat. I won't spoil all of their surprises, but let me tell you that they are new to Houston, (6 months), and seem to be enjoying it so far. They are an absolutely lovely young couple and I hope they continue to contribute to this board.

                                                      We had only been talking a few minutes when another young lady approached and asked if we were from the internets. Confessing that we were, Ms. Anness introduced herself and suddenly we were four.

                                                      Just a few minutes later, Jaymes joined us and our party was complete. All the cool kids had arrived. (See what I did there?)

                                                      So we get in line, (maybe eight deep), and 10:15 or so. Jaymes and Anness took the point and they both got the Red Pork tamales. Ms. Neo was next and got the Dulce con Pina, (sweet with pinapple), and Dr. Neo the Oaxacan wrapped in a banana leaf.

                                                      Doobs brought up the rear and I got a chicken mole.

                                                      As I've lamented here before, I don't love Dona Tere as they are too masa heavy for me, but I thought the Oaxacan which I had never had before was pretty good. (We all shared as these are huge tamales.)

                                                      I think the general consensus was that the red pork were the best, but as noted, I liked the Oaxacan.

                                                      Finishing there, we stepped out to the trunk of my car, where we tried the Arandas tamales I picked up earlier.

                                                      These were more of the Texas traditional tamales, but were neither spicy nor greasy enough for me. Ms. Anness had to leave us then, but hopefully, she'll be along here shortly to share her thoughts.

                                                      We then all walked over to the bakery cause...you know... It was there..., and both Jaymes and the 'Timas picked up some goodies. Impossible to resist, really.

                                                      Impossible.

                                                      Onward! We then took off for Gerardo's. Only about a fifteen minute drive at 11am on a Saturday and we arrived to find : No Line! None. Nunca. Nein. Nada.

                                                      I've never seen that before, but worked for me.

                                                      I think I jumped in front here and I picked up a dozen pork and a pound of carnitas. And some of that awesome orange habanero salsa.

                                                      A guy who seemed to be in charge, (Gerardo?), immediately starting shoving samples at Mr. and Mrs. Neo and they tried the barbacoa, and sweetbreads, and maybe a few other things. I KNOW that Neo will be along to share his thoughts.

                                                      We sat down to have a small nosh but with Alamo still on the docket, only a small one. The tamales were very good and more like I prefer. Small with a hefty masa to filling ratio and just greasy enough to effect Jaymes' "tail-plop" test.

                                                      The family working that day watched us like hawks and brought us extra salsa, napkins...anything we needed. Truly gracious hosts, and I mean that sincerely. (BTW, I saved the carnitas for a pre-Super Bowl taco festa and they are excellent.)

                                                      Finishing there, we were off to Alamo.During our tamales crawl a couple of years ago, (and my first visit to Alamo ever), I had picked Alamo as my favorite and I will keep that opinion. While there was a small line, it moved quickly. I actually didn't buy anything here as I already had my dozen from Gerardo's, but I was happy to try one of ... well... someone's. I'm not sure if I poached one of Jaymes' or the Neo's, but in either case, it was just perfect.

                                                      Perfectly greasy.

                                                      Perfectly spicy.

                                                      Perfectly proportioned.

                                                      Perfectly textured.

                                                      Perfect.

                                                      Finishing there, the Neos headed off and Jaymes and I decided to meet at Flying Saucer Pies, because...well... you know...

                                                      it was there.

                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                        When I finally got to meet DW in person at Dona Tere - I told him I really enjoyed his writing - as I'm sure you all do! I enjoyed reading his account just now as much as I enjoyed being there!

                                                        Agree with Jaymes and DW's account thus far - the one part I'll add is the culinary assault that occurred when we walked into Gerardo's. Gerardo (?) or otherwise his Chef de Cuisine realized we were REALLY into food, and started handing my wife and I each a taco stuffed with barbacoa, then a HUGE piece of fried sweetbreads, and then a huge chunk of carnitas!

                                                        Lucky for me, my wife had already overindulged on the dulce tamale at Dona Tere and I got to eat the other half of her Barbacoa taco and her carnitas. She later confessed to me that she ran and hid, worried that Gerardo would keep handing her more food!

                                                        I'm a huge fan of braised porkbelly and that's what the barbacoa reminded me of - oozy warm and fatty gelatinous goodness mixed with firm meatiness, well-seasoned and just begging for a bit of salsa, squeeze of lime and onions in a warm corn tortilla. "Unctuous" was the word DW used, and I agree. We bought a pound, and I think I'm going to tear into it tonight!

                                                        Definitely loved the fried sweetbreads (had a hint of pepper) as well as the carnitas, and will have to make another trip to have them fresh on the premises. Also on that list will be the Chicharrones and more of the awesome habanero sauce that DW was raving about!

                                                        Tongue-in-cheek (so to speak) aside, it's a humble lunch counter type of hole-in-the-wall, but the warmth of the staff is really incomparable. Kind of like stepping into the kitchen of the Mexican Abuelita you never had... Can't say enough great things about it.

                                                        Thanks to Jaymes and DoobieWah for taking us around - and Mrs. Neo and I owe you guys the next round. Also, really glad Anness could make a cameo appearance too!

                                                        On a side note - this was not part of the Tamal Crawl, but I wanted to give props to another place. I discovered a little place called El Rey in Baytown, which is run by a mostly El Salvadoran family (moved here from Northern Virginia, incidentally). Had some of their pupusas which were ok - maybe I'm not a pupusa guy, but the show stopper for me was the package of something that was leaking orange oil all over my passenger seat on the drive back to town. When I finally opened the green leaves (lotus? banana?), my arm was dripping in the fat, and wow, warm, masa, fatty meatiness, some vegetable, slight spiciness, amazingness. I inhaled it and wanted more.

                                                        If you're in Baytown, check it out:
                                                        El Rey
                                                        5622 Garth Rd
                                                        Baytown, TX 77521
                                                        (281) 917-4561

                                                        So, next, Korean or Chinese anyone? A new thread?

                                                        1. re: neointima

                                                          Thanks for the kind words.

                                                          I had a blast and eagerly look forward to the next one.

                                                          1. re: neointima

                                                            quote.....maybe I'm not a pupusa guy, but the show stopper for me was the package of something that was leaking orange oil all over my passenger seat on the drive back to town. When I finally opened the green leaves (lotus? banana?), my arm was dripping in the fat, and wow, warm, masa, fatty meatiness, some vegetable, slight spiciness, amazingness. I inhaled it and wanted more.

                                                            Most likely a Salvadoran tamale? Tamales de elote - corn - are steamed in corn husks and served with crema Salvadorena and a salty, crumbly, cotija like cheese, tamales do puerco (pork) or pollo are steamed in banana/plantain leaves and are mildly seasoned. They usually include chunks of meat and potato. I'm not much of a pupusa fan either but Salvadoran tamales can be awesome. Sounds good, whatever it was.

                                                    2. Dropped by Pete's Fine Meats on Saturday and among other things, I picked up a dozen pork tamales. (I first bought tamales from Pete back when he was at Wilcrest and Briar Forest in the early 80's.)

                                                      When I got home and opened them, I was very disappointed as they had the look of the Alamo machine rolled and at $9.99/dozen, I chalked it up to one of those "live and learn" situations.

                                                      I was wrong.

                                                      <shudder>

                                                      They're definitely NOT Alamo machine rolled. They pretty spicy and they pass the Jaymes-Tail-Plop-Test.

                                                      I wouldn't say they're as good as the Alamo hand rolled ones, but I won't hesitate to pick up a dozen any time I'm over there.

                                                      I was already flush with Prime Strips thanks to JC, so I just got bacon, smoked sausage and a half dozen yard eggs in addition to the tamales.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                        Do they make their own tamales? Years ago I picked up some tamales that I think were from Colorado (yeah, don't ask me why). They were pretty disappointing as I recall.

                                                        1. re: brucesw

                                                          I doubt they make their own, but I would be surprised to hear they get them from Colorado.

                                                          In any case, they aren't bad.