Tamales are an ancient traditional dish traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztecan tribes. The genius behind tamales during those times is that they could be prepared ahead of time, packed for hunting and gathering trips and then be warmed as needed. These days, tamales are quite the popular food in Los Angeles. Whether you are going out to eat or purchasing the corn husk-wrapped food to eat at a later date, the Los Angeles restaurant scene has plenty of options using handed-down family recipes.
13488 Maxella Ave.
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Paiche LA is Chef Ricardo Zarate’s third restaurant in Los Angeles, following the success of Mo-chica and Picca. This Latin fusion izakaya showcases Zarate’s Peruvian cuisine with Japanese notes and hometown flavors. His tamalito verde tamale is a unique twist on the classic dish featuring northern Peruvian influences and made with seco sauce (pureed cilantro) and topped with shimenji mushrooms. Paiche serves small plates alongside Latin wines and spirits, and is one of the marina’s must-visit spots.
13301 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Casa Vega is a 57-year-old family Mexican restaurant that has been proudly making its tamales by hand using a generations-old family recipe. This landmark restaurant serves authentic tamales in classic flavors including sweet corn, cheese, chicken, beef and vegetable, all complemented by hot sauce and crema for complete Mexican food indulgence. Casa Vega offers tamale trays ($49) and gift bags ($36), perfect for family get-togethers, potluck dinners, seasonal parties and edible gifting. Same-day ordering is available.
Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales
Larchmont Farmers’ Market
245 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Every Sunday at the Larchmont Farmers’ Market, Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales of Pacoima in the village is there dishing out its famous hand-made gourmet tamales. Available to take home or eat on the road, tamales are offered with beef, pork, corn, chicken, pineapple, vegetables and chili cheese. Me Gusta tamales are individually wrapped in fresh corn husks using the original recipe handed down by the Ortega family. The farmers’ market features more than 40 vendors including artisan sweets and savories and fresh fruits and vegetables.
1445 4th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Border Grill is one of today’s authentic Mexican cuisine restaurants with locations in both Santa Monica and Downtown L.A. Co-chef/owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, aka Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” are passionate about gourmet Mexican fare and set the standard in Mexican dining. Known for its green corn tamales, Border Grill serves them just right with crema and salsa fresca. Tamales are gluten free, too. If you join Border Grill for happy hour, the “bocaditos” menu features a plate of the restaurant’s classics with the green corn tamales, chicken panuchos and plantain empanadas.
Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe
2124 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Mama’s Hot Tamales makes some of the best tamales in town. The Mexican food menu gives diners an assortment of combos including tamale combos which are served with your choice of rice and beans, tortilla soup or Mama’s house salad. Tamales are made fresh to order, and daily flavors are listed in the restaurant. The café is actually an apprentice-operated business that offers job training in the restaurant to help and train low- to moderate-income residents to pursue a career in the food industry.
Related: Best Mexican Cuisine
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