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. TAMALES ALBERTO
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.
3. CINNAMON VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT — CLOSED
5511 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
A solid option for delicious tamales without meat. The tangy green sauce is excellent.
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.
10. PLAYA — CLOSED
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.
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This list was updated on December 15, 2017 to note some restaurant closures.