Being a first-timer to Mama’s, I never realized it’s a job training center. The food is prepared, cooked and served by apprentices. Which apparently means the service is better than a lot of professional places in town.
The servers were friendly, and perfectly attentive… No attitude whatsoever, which led to a wonderful experience.
And the food was equally impressive, starting with the house-made tortilla chips. They were perfectly cooked so that some of them were flaky and others were chewy. And the salsas were so good that I ended up buying a jar of the green one. This was getting off to a good start.
The Guatemalan chicken tamale had a rice masa, instead of corn, which had a consistency a little like mashed potatoes. And it was wrapped in a banana leaf instead of a corn husk. I wasn’t really too fond of this masa. The taste wasn’t bad…I just prefer a little firmer texture. But the filling was delicious, with large pieces of tender stringy chicken breast and a tasty, slightly spicy red sauce.
The Mexican pork tamale had the traditional corn masa, and this was a good version. It was more white than yellow, and had a hint of corny sweetness. And the filling was also flavorful like the chicken tamale. This one had good-sized pieces of stringy pork, and a zesty green sauce.
Both tamales, but especially the pork tamale became a little dry toward the end of the meal. I think the rice masa kept the chicken tamale more moist. This was not a deal-breaker, but next time I think I’ll just put a little salsa on top and that should do the trick.
Oh, by the way, they’re only open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but 7 days a week.
Mama’s Hot Tamales
2122 West 7th Street (half block west of Alvarado)
Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe
2122 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057