This was our fourth, and final, time at Hot Tamale. I do think you can do better in the frozen food and canned goods aisles of your local grocery.
The salsa was again cold and tasteless with a distinct canned tomato flavor. They do continue to put bottles of hot sauces on the table so that you can heat it up and the waitress volunteered to bring choppped, fresh jalapenos for it. They do have a hotter, cayenne-based, sauce (you have to ask for) but it is not "salsa".
I decided not to order the "top shelf" magarita this time since it was watery/tasteless the last time and this "ordinary" version fared no better.
I think they puree the pinto beans and they are not "refried". They were very bland. Bland everything! My partner's (to quote the menu) "Tostada Salad--A grande taco shell filled with grilled steak or chicken, on a bed of mixed greens. Served with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. $11.99", had totally tasteless chicken. (BTW, my dog liked it.) My chile rellenos were terrible. Un-authentic, flavorless cheese filling. Our friends did not comment on their food and I was afraid to ask....
The appetizer, (again quoting) "Hot Tamale--Two corn masa tamales filled with beef and steamed in corn husks. Served over a bed of mesculin greens. $7.99", was quite good, but I doubt they make it in-house. The "Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake $6.00" was good but ditto on the made elsewhere.
I really wanted to enjoy a decent meal here but this last meal was the deal-breaker. The four of us dropped over $125 for pathetic ??-Mex! The mariachi band was a (really laughable) joke and just made it difficult for us to talk.
This place had a waiting list the last three times we visited, and yet, this Saturday night prime-time visit found the place about 1/3 empty. My friend said, "The restaurant was OK for the Valley". That's a terrible indictment.