If the holidays are about bringing people together, then it makes perfect sense that tamales have become a staple of many people's holiday celebrations. They bring us together to make and then enjoy them because it's impossible not to smile while unwrapping delicious packages of moist masa surrounding all manner of tasting fillings.
But you don't have to be a kitchen whiz to enjoy tamale time. Leave the hard work to any of these Valley favorites and you're in good hands. Just be sure to order ahead since they tend to fly off the shelves during this season.
When it comes to tamales, Sunnyslope's El Bravo does some of the city's best. For more than three decades the family-owned restaurant has been serving affordable Mexican classics and exceptionally good tamales. You can have your choice of green corn (with or without chicken), shredded beef and spinach for $32 a dozen. Can't decide on one filling? Go for the dozen mixed: four beef, four green chile and four chicken for $36.
Though the Tamale Store has a brick and mortar location in north Phoenix, they also bring their creations directly to you - or rather to more than a dozen farmers markets and events around the Valley. Their meat tamale options include beef red chile, chicken green chile, pork red chile, pork green chile, chicken chipotle and chicken mole. Vegetarian, vegan and dessert tamales are also available. A two-pack will set you back $5.50, a half dozen $16 and one dozen $28. Special order pricing varies. Call or place your order online.
If you're looking for something more than just the classic tamales, this small Glendale spot is the place to be. Specializing in healthy and non-traditional varieties, Molly's Tamales sells everything from Southwest Vegan tamales with black beans, corn, and chile in chipotle sauce to zuchinni with mushrooms and cheese tamales. And don't forget about their Roxy Road variety with marshmallow and chocolate chips. Place your order by phone, email or in person. Pricing is available on the Molly's Tamale website.
This downtown spot is a bakery, restaurant and market all rolled into one bright building. Here you'll find a selection of both sweet and savory tamales in the following varieties: green cheese, chicken, mole, pineapple, strawberry, red beef, carnitas and corn. Frozen, a dozen will cost you $14.99, or get twelve of them already cooked for $16.99.
Los Dos Molinos serves New Mexican-style tamales with your choice of three fillings. There are blue corn, red chile and green corn varieties, all available for $5.25 each or for $30 for a dozen frozen. Call the restaurant to order in advance.
Besides having some of the best tortillas in the city Carolina's serves some pretty tasty tamales. During the holidays they're sure to stock all three of their varieties: red beef, green corn and green chicken. Pick them up for $2 a piece or $18 a dozen. They're allso available by the half dozen for $11 at all three locations.
Los Sombreros's 12 Tamales of Christmas is a Valley holiday tradition. Every year the restaurant, now with two locations, offers a mix of savory and sweet tamales that even come wrapped up in a pretty gift box. The varieties include green corn, smoked chicken, tomatillo chicken, pineapple and raisin, cinnamon, and chocolate for $29.95 a dozen. Call 480-994-1799 to order or do so in person at either location.
This Glendale restaurant has been a local landmark since opening in 1946. The homey neighborhood spot specializes in Chihuahua-style Mexican cooking and offers homemade tamales in beef, pork, chicken, turkey or green corn. A dozen of the basic beef will set you back $22.50 or $20.50 if you buy three dozen or more. All other varieties cost $25.50 a dozen. Two days notice is required.
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At this Glendale bakery not only can you pick up your favorite Mexican pastries and breads, but also a dozen tamales in a number of flavors. La Purisima sells red and green chile pork, cheese, roasted red pepper, and corn tamales for $17 a dozen. Want to try your hand at making your own? Just pick up some of their premade masa.
Old El Paso Tamale Shop in east Mesa is a go to places for affordable tamales all year round. For the holiday season you can pick up a dozen of their beef, pork, corn, green chile or chicken tamales for $14.99 a dozen. They also sell sweet and spinach tamales, though pre-orders are required for those varieties.