Oakland has a Little Guatemala. This is fantastic news; all of you should be dancing your pants off.
In the early morning hours, two Guatemalan women sell excellent, excellent, excellent Guatemalan tamales, says rworange. The first is outside of San Miguel, a Guatemalan restaurant. She has a grill going with onion and beef and tamales. Her chicken tamales are wonderful—moist, full of meat, red peppers, olives, and other stuff, and wrapped in a banana leaf. She also has a pot of something that looks like mole but turns out to be dense, liquid beans. It’s very nice, and very different from the usual frijoles. A breakfast feast—tamale, chile relleno, and atole—will run you $6.
The second tamale lady is at La Colmena market. Her tamales are pretty terrific; her atole is the best rworange has ever had. It’s rich and almost eggy, with teeny bits of coconut blended in. The onion-pepper sauce is really, really hot. Tamales and atole are $3.50.
Chapinlandia Bakery is one of the larger Guatemalan bakeries around. It has good basket-shaped baked items, with cream cheese, custard, or pineapple filling. Custard and cream cheese are the best. Cakelike squares topped with sesame seeds are very tasty. And the croissants are distinctly Guatemalan—dense inside, and covered with sugar and cinnamon. They’re sort of like morning buns. And they’re 35 cents each.
Tamales outside San Miguel Restaurant [East Bay]
4729 International Boulevard, Oakland
Tamales inside La Colmena Produce Market [East Bay]
4825 International Boulevard, Oakland
Chapinlandia Bakery [East Bay]
4737 International Boulevard, Oakland