Tamales are celebration food in Mexico and Central America, so it’s no surprise that as the holidays approach, Angelenos’ desire to find the best heats up. Fortunately, Los Angeles has tons of excellent options, in styles ranging from traditional Yucatecan to upscale contemporary. Here are 11 versions Chowhounds think are LA’s finest, listed alphabetically.
1. ALBERTO TAMALES
1644 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles
The signature firm masa is just right, neither too sweet nor unpleasantly grainy. Get here on weekends for the widest assortment of fillings.
2. CHICHEN ITZA
3655 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Simple, delicious tamales that hold up the next day for leftovers.
3. CINNAMON VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
5511 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
A solid option for delicious tamales without meat. The tangy green sauce is excellent.
2012 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles
Molé is the way to go at this beloved Oaxacan restaurant, a favorite both of Chowhounds and Jonathan Gold.
5. LA AZTECA TORTILLERIA
4538 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles
This well-known tortilla kitchen has no dining area, so plan to grab your tamales to go.
6. LA FLOR DE YUCATAN
1800 S. Hoover Street, Los Angeles
Yucatecan tamales wrapped in banana leaves rather than corn husks. The masa is unbelievably light and fluffy.
7. LA INDIANA TAMALES
1142 S. Indiana Street, Los Angeles
The red chile beef and pork tamales will turn your fingers orange, but they’re worth it.
8. LA MASCOTA BAKERY
2715 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles
Lovely tamales featuring firm, delicious masa that’s never grainy. Show up early enough and you can watch them being made by hand.
9. LOS CINCO PUNTOS
3300 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles
Chowhounds love the green chile and cheese tamale at this East LA meat market. No tables, so plan on ordering to go.
7360 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles
The upscale versions here include the Tamale Chipotle, filled with filet mignon and rich mushroom duxelles, topped with smoky béarnaise.
11. TAMALES LILIANA’S
4629 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles
Moist masa and generous meat fillings.
Photo of Guelaguetza’s molé amarillo tamale by Flickr member KayOne73 under Creative Commons
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