'Tis the season for tamales! If you've spent any time in the Southwest you know we do cocoa and cookies around the holidays just like everywhere else, but that the holiday season just isn't the same without fresh tamales. You can certainly make 'em by the dozen, but we won't lie, it's a time intensive process. So gather friends and family and make sure to check out our Tamales 101 for helpful tips if you're going the homemade route.
Most folks rely on the pros to crank out their festive red and green tamales by the dozen. Check out our recommendations for where to find the best tamales in the Valley. Just make sure to place your order well ahead of when you want to pick them up, or you may be left high and dry when it comes to holiday tamale time.
We've already mentioned The Twelve Tamales of Christmas featured by Los Sombreros. Choose from twelve types of gourmet tamales like chipotle pork or chocolate. $25 for a single type or $27 to mix and match flavors.
In addition to having some of the best pan dulce in the Valley, La Purisima also offers a mean red or green chile pork tamale. Moist, packed with shredded pork and only $16 a dozen. Try their other flavors, or snag some premade masa to make your own tamales.
Of course La Tolteca churns out the holiday tamales, and of course they're awesome. The traditional red or green pork, chicken and beef are available and you can even get some dessert tamales while you're there. Choose from strawberry or pineapple. At only $17 a dozen, you can afford to indulge.
Red chile beef tamales are always on the menu at this family-owned Glendale eatery that's been in the business for over 60 years. But around the holidays, La Perla introduces red and green chile tamales galore with turkey, chicken, pork, and spicy adovada. Or snag a dozen sweet corn or cinnamon raisin for $22.50 a dozen; $20.50 if you order 3 or more dozen.
Tamales galore! Skip the DIY hassle and let someone else do the hard work.
Tempe's long standing, bright yellow mom 'n' pop taco shop offers holiday tamales for $20 a dozen. Choose from green chile beef, pork, chicken, or sweet corn. Since it's small and family owned, make sure to order well ahead of time to make sure you get your tamales in time.
Carolina's has always offered a bunch of tasty offerings to-go, from tortillas to green chile, and during the holidays they make sure plenty of tamales are at the ready. Snag a dozen red beef or green chile corn tamales for $16 bucks frozen or $25 bucks steamed if you don't want feel confident enough to steam a couple tamales.
Some like it hot, and that's the only way Los Dos does it, so makes sure you know what you're getting into before ordering a dozen New Mexican-style tamales. You can get their famous carne adovada, green chile chicken, blue corn with red beef, or yellow corn with red beef for $25 a dozen. Order two dozen and get six pineapple tamales complimentary.
East Mesa residents know that the Old El Paso Tamale shop is the place to go for cheap and tasty tamales by the dozen. The menu doesn't change around the holidays, and Old El Paso offers their tried and true beef, pork, or chicken tamales at only $15 a dozen.
Mrs. Molly specializes in really fancy tamales, with about 21 types of tamale. Choose from vegan options, spicy salmon, and roxy road (nutty choco marshmallow), in addition to the more traditional red and green shredded meats or sweet corn elote. Plus they're made with olive oil instead of lard, so you can indulge guilt-free over the holidays, with most tamales priced at $27 bucks a dozen.
If you're a farmers' market regular, you know about the delicious options from the Tamale Store. About 14 types of fancy tamales can be had from vegan to pumpkin and everything in between. At $27 bucks, the tamales aren't cheap, but the Tamale Store has flavors you won't find anywhere else.
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Last minute options:
If you wait too long, you might end up without any tamales to nosh over the holidays. And if you're between a rock and a hard place, we hear Garcia's, Tee Pee, Pedro's, Valle Luna, and Arriba offer tamales by the dozen, too.