Unwrapping a tamale means welcoming a good surprise. Tamales are versatile — savory or sweet, topped with a variety of sauces, and served as street fare or at fine dining restaurants. Of course, eating tamales can be a year-round pursuit, but the holidays offer a chance for families and friends to get hands-on training with tamalada (tamale-making) parties. If your preference is to skip the gathering this year and pick up tamales to-go, look to these 10 places in metro Phoenix to fulfill your holiday wish.Read More
Where to Find Tantalizing Holiday Tamales in Phoenix
Where to find a variety of tamales — from beef to chicken to dessert to green corn
1. Barrio Queen
Barrio Queen is debuting its seasonal menu showcasing its tamales, which are legendary (and subject to copy-cat iterations). But this green sauce might be hard to recreate for even the most skilled cook, crafted from a special blend of tomatillos, garlic, paprika, onions, and poblano peppers. Choose from green chile pork, red chile chicken, and vegetarian tamales. A dozen tamales cost $30, while a half-dozen is priced at $17. Order online or at participating stores — at least 24 hours are needed for all orders.
2. Jalapeño Inferno at DC Ranch
A staple in the Phoenix area since 1999, Jalapeño Inferno owners Terry and Laura Craig know how to please locals and out-of-town visitors. Green corn tamales include a blend of green chiles and Mexican cheeses steamed in a husk. Or for meat lovers, there is beef chile tamales, where with tender, slow-cooked meat. Tamales are available for pick-up only and cost $38 per dozen, but with each order, patrons can score six additional tamales.
3. The Tamale Store
Named “The Tamale Store,” the assumption is the tamales are taken seriously. And it’s true. Martha Castillo’s family-owned business is all about having choices for tamale lovers. Try the best seller which is the red and green chile pork tamales, as well as the green corn and cream cheese tamale made with New Mexican hatch chiles. There are at least seven selections for vegetarian and vegan diners, as well as gluten-free options. Most tamales come in a pack of two and a half-dozen costs $20, while a dozen is priced at $35. You can sample a two-pack for an affordable $7.
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4. Carolina’s Mexican Food
A local staple since 1968, Carolina’s has a reputation for its homemade tortillas and its tamales. Named Best of Phoenix this year, the green corn tamale highlights fresh corn kernels, sliced green chiles, and of course, melted cheese. These are served hot and only cost $1.20. For larger parties, order 30 tamales, which include red beef or green corn tamales for $69.85, topped with a choice of enchilada sauce. All orders require 24-hour notice.
5. La Purisima Bakery
Who can resist getting a tamale and dessert fix in one stop? Celebrating 36 years in business this month, La Purisima Bakery, couched in Glendale, carries baked goods, like bread, tortillas, and also serves fresh tamales daily. A few things to note — La Purisima is closed on Mondays and only accepts cash. Also, get there early, there is usually a line.
6. Rosita's Place
Phoenix, AZ 85006
Fresh trays of tamales are available for the taking at Rosita’s Place — an establishment greeting patrons since 1964. Handmade green corn or beef tamales are available. Some say Rosita’s tamales taste similar to what is found in Tulum, Mexico. As you wait on the tamales, indulge in the hot chips and salsa. Prices are reasonable and portions are generous at Rosita’s. A dozen tamales cost $36, a tray of 18 costs $64, while a large platter with 24 tamales is priced at $72.
7. Azteca Bakery & Mexican Fast
The colorful array of vibrant eclectic pastries greet customers at the family-owned Azteca Bakery. A staple for three decades, this bakery is known for its homemade pastries, but tamales are also a fan favorite, especially during Christmas. Beef with red chile, green chicken, or green corn tamales with cheese are $2.50 for individual servings and $24 for a dozen. As an added bonus, Azteca Bakery does not use any preservatives in its food.
8. Old El Paso Tamales
At Old El Paso Tamales, choose from five different varieties of tamales — green chile chicken, green chile and cheese, sweet corn, shredded red beef, and shredded pork. The cost for a half-dozen is $12, while a dozen is $23. Complement the tamales with a bowl of Menudo, a specialty soup known for its spongy texture and made with tripe and red chile base.
Someburros know sometimes people don’t plan their menu in advance. And, happily, tamales are there for those who wait until the last minute. A tamale platter is $35 and includes either 15 beef tamales topped with red enchilada sauce or 15 green corn tamales with cheese and green enchilada sauce. Dine-in option includes tamales as a part of a combo plate.
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10. Los Sombreros
Some people are picky about their tamales and Los Sombreros knows how people prefer to mix and match their favorites. Choices include green corn, tomatillo chicken, rajas, carnitas, red chile beef tamales. Also, Los Sombreros offers a tamale Phoenicians won’t likely find elsewhere in the area — a dessert tamale containing pineapple, brown sugar, and raisins. Orders can be placed by the dozen and there is an option to mix and match tamales. One dozen costs $35; orders can be placed from now until December 24 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Most orders need 24-hour notice.