For those who grew up in the Southwest, or have just lived here long enough to soak in the culture, tamales are a staple of holiday dining. And though they're not impossibly hard to make (really, we swear), the process does take quite a chunk of time and, ideally, a few extra hands. If you can't dedicate an entire day to making and wrapping tamales, we don't blame you. That's why we've gathered this handy list of places around town that will happily do the hard work for you.
Los Dos Molinos Mesa
The Mesa location of this metro Phoenix mini-chain offers blue corn beef, green chili chicken, green corn, red chili beef, and pork adovada for $35 per half-tray dozen, or $65 for a fully tray of 24 tamales topped with cheese and red or green chile. They will throw in utensils and chips and salsa upon request. Perhaps their most appealing option is the $25 delivery, which includes disposable serving trays with heaters as well as all the plates, napkins, and cutlery. It's a good idea to order a day ahead, though they can often accommodate same-day requests.
Carolina's offers red beef and green corn tamales traditional style, served in husks, for $64.30 per 30, or enchilada-style, smothered in cheese and red or green enchilada sauce for $67.15. These tamale platters come with a bag of chips and hot sauce, plus plastic utensils. Order 24-hours in advance by calling 602-923-0864.
Old El Paso Tamales
This east Mesa shop is a year-round destination for beef, pork, corn, green chile, spinach, chicken, and sweet tamales. Orders should be placed a week in advance in person or by calling 480-844-0477.
Barrio Queen locations in Scottsdale and Gilbert are offering their popular pork green chile tamales for $35 per dozen and rajas (sauteed vegetable) tamales for $24 per dozen. Call 480-665-8499 to place an order for pickup in Scottsdale, Phoenix, or Gilbert. If you are having a huge fiesta, orders of over $300 can be delivered.
The Tamale Store
The family-operated Tamale Store has a storefront located in Cave Creek, and the shop's offerings can also be found at farmers markets around the Valley. Flavors include the likes of chicken mole, beef red chile, Arizona cornbread with colby jack, a vegan black bean cilantro, and even a special pumpkin pie sweet tamale, which are sold frozen for $20 per half dozen and $35 for a full dozen. Orders should be placed three business days in advance, and payment is taken when the tamales are picked up. The Tamale Store is taking pre-orders for Christmas until December 1st, after which tamales can be purchased from the store or farmers market on a first come, first serve basis.
Tucson Tamale Company
You might recognize the Tucson Tamale Company name from AJ's, Sprouts, and Whole Foods, all of which carry this popular brand here in Arizona. But you don't have to go to the store to get your holiday tamale fix. You can mail-order frozen tamales directly through the Tucson Tamale website. Tamales ranging from simple green corn to chile relleno and special holiday spice versions are available in packs of two for $7.50 each or in single flavor and variety 32-tamales packs starting at $112.
For years, this Scottsdale restaurant has been a favorite for ordering holiday tamales. Los Sombreros makes a dozen flavors including spicy pork, pineapple-raisin, green corn, Gualajillo beef, chicken tomatillo, smoked chicken, rajas and cheese, chorizo blackbean, beef with jack cheese, chipotle pork, canela cinnamon, and chocolate. A dozen is $35 for one flavor, two flavors, or a variety pack of four flavors. Orders must be placed three days in advance until Thanksgiving, after which you will need to order five days ahead of time. Call the tamale hotline 480-865-8232 to place an order.
Molly's Tamales in Glendale offers a wide variety of flavors, ranging from the signature cactus tamale (nopal tamal) to the more unique spicy salmon option to other flavors like pork, spicy beef, and Southwestern chicken. Tamales sell for $36 per dozen, except for the salmon tamales, which are $44 per dozen. Orders should be placed a week in advance by calling 623-937-1060 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Goodyear restaurant keeps it simple with just two tamale options: beef or green corn. A dozen will run you $29.95, while a half dozen is $19.99. They request 24-hours notice for pickup orders, though they usually have frozen tamales available to pick-up anytime.
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This family-owned and -operated local restaurant chain has a half-dozen locations around the Valley. Order red beef or green corn tamales for $24 per dozen, but be sure to place your pick-up order at least a day in advance.
El Bravo serves up green corn, chicken green corn, shredded beef, and spinach tamales for $32 a single-flavor-dozen or $36 for a mixed dozen. They usually only ask for an hour notice for orders of a dozen or more, but during the holidays, it is best to get your order in at least a few days in advance.
Order authentic pork, beef, chicken, cheese, or sweet pineapple tamales for $18 a dozen at this aptly named restaurant in Tolleson. Call ahead to order a dozen or more, and be sure to leave extra time during the holidays, as they tend to sell out fast.
Lauren Saria, Lauren Cusimano, and Felicia Campbell contributed to this post.