Every year around Christmas, we also get several posts asking, which place has the best Tamales. More often than not, what is recommended is a place in East L.A. You see them on the news, with lines going down the block and around the corner. They warn you to put in your order early! That X bakery makes the BEST tamales in town, based on Grandmas's old recipe! Look!! There's grandma making the tamales now!!
Well, for me, I grew up making own christmas Tamales, of banana leaf. I never liked corn husk ones, they were dry, heavy and bland... But then, I was introduced to the Tamales of La Indiana. They actually WERE tasty. And then, I discovered La Mascota, and it was LOVE. So I thought my search was over...
That was, until I was given my latest community assignment to work the Mexican Indepenence day Parade, and it would start right by the famous meat market, 5 Puntos... OOoo... It was torture standing right infront of that market for 3 plus hours. I had made the mistake of taking a peek in before the parade started and the smell of the amazing meats just got stuck in my head!!!
Well, at 1pm our broadcast ended and we ran across the street to begin our Tamale Crawl across East L.A.
The rich smell of Carnitas and other meats got me into a pork/beef mood, I got a red tamale of pork and another of beef. We then went to Sandra and Lolitas, Juanitos and finally Lillianas where we got one red beef and one pork from each. (Lilianas though only had red pork ones)
After a late lunch of Tacos Baja Encenada and a stop over to Majestic Poultry (Which provided us with an awesome chicken, once get over the idea that its legs and head are still attached), we brought home the Tamales, I made Mexican Rice and Black Beans and I resteamed them up for dinner!
First up, Sandra and Lolitas. I love La Mascota because of how saucey they are. And well, Sandra and Lolas are DRIPPING with sauce! I thought just by looking at them, we had our winner! Sadly, I was mistaken. The sauce is rich, but very one note. Also, the masa was completely flavorless! BLEH!!
Next up, 5 Puntos. A little on the small side, but the masa was just BURSTING with corn flavor. They seemed to use to a corser ground masa. The filling was pretty good, I perfered the tender pork to the very strongly flavored beef.
Then, Juanitos, they didnt wrap these up in a paper, so re-steaming them caused the fall apart a bit. Nevertheless, they were large, stuffed with meat and the masa had good flavor. These were BFs favorite.
Finally, Lilianas, a ton of okay tasting masa and hardly any meat!
So in my mind, My favorite of the new bunch though was 5 Puntos. Nevertheless, none of them had an amazing flavor so in terms of red tamales, I still prefer La Mascota (Although just to be fair, their red sauce tends to be a bit greasy!) and La Indiana. Further, when I think of my favorite Tamale of the bunch, I like La Mascotass Green Chicken the best. So perhaps Ill have to do this crawl again before christmas Only this time, itll be the battle of the green Hmmm :)
Follow up post will contain all addresses and info. And each Tamale was under $2.00