When a few hounds got together recently for a taste-off of tamales from across L.A., best in show was Mama’s Hot Tamales’ black mole tamale. With rich and complex black mole and moist and flavorful masa, it’s a real tamale role model.
La Indiana’s chile and cheese tamale, astounding with good rajas and a ton of gooey cheese, plus great onion and tomato flavor. It blows their dry, dull chicken tamales out of the water. (russkar claims that their best tamales are actually red pork.)
Guatemalteca’s chuchito is a Guatemalan tamale with well-seasoned chicken filling and a startling tomato sauce that seems like it should be on spaghetti, but complements the flavors really well.
La Fiesta Market’s beef tamale is chock-full of meat, and studded with peas and garbanzo beans–probably a regional variation, but hard to say whose.
La Flor de Yucatan’s colado, or Yucatecan tamale, is kind of divisive–the jello-like texture of its strained masa puts some people off, while others love the taste of the fresh tomato and epazote topping.
And Debbie W reports having a chocolate tamale at Babita–the chocolate apparently being mixed into the masa before steaming. Great stuff, says she.
Guatemalteca Bakery [Koreatown]
4032 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles
La Fiesta Meat Market [South LA]
15020 Hawthorne Blvd., Lawndale
Babita [San Gabriel Valley]
1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd, South of Valley, San Gabriel