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Last month I had a chance to try Tamales Maná at its main location on Petaluma Hill Road. While it has its own street cart vending on the sidewalk in front, I went inside. The kitchen is open to view. And my order was filled from a steam table cart by the door.
I'll admit to being more than a little disappointed to read the sign that the tamales do not contain manteca. Apparently soybean oil is the lipid of choice here. Still, I wanted to try the product since I was in the store. The lunch special of two tamales plus rice and beans for $7.95 was my sample with one pollo verde tamal and a piña tamal dulce. The rice (with a squirt of green sauce) and the soupy beans were excellent. The chicken tamal had good flavor, and I liked the embellishment of salsa and crema. But the masa was lacking in flavor and texture, too fine-grained and dense though hot from the steam table and allegedly made that day. It seemed like it had been reheated.
However, I can recommend the piña tamal. The masa was light and fluffy with some juicy chunks of pineapple, not just ground fruit blended with the masa. This tasted freshly made.
I did get a couple of day-old, half-priced chile-cheese tamales for $1.25 apiece sold refrigerated to reheat at home. In my book, a vegetarian tamal is the only rationale for not using lard in masa! And these turned out to have better texture than the pollo verde as well, and some real heat to the spicy chiles. I'd get these again as well.
110 Petaluma Hill Road
Santa Rosa, Ca 95404
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