I found some good ones, I think! I'm not wise in the ways of tamales, but it's been so long since I've had *any*, I was very happy with those I found at Mercado Hernandez, 230-232 Union. They make them fresh every day, both pork and chicken. There's a lunch-type steam table, that must have other stuff, but I didn't have time for exploration. On top of the display case, though, are gorgeous chiccarones nearly as long and thick as my arm. Toward the back of the store is a display case of meat, with all kinds of goodies. Good looking tripe, which I was told is also sold cooked!
But back to those tamales. They're nice and fat, heavy on the masa (which is my preference, but may not be yours) served with an eye-watering hot red salsa, and an unfamilar conditment that looked like fruit cocktail, but actually was a sweet and sour assortment of chopped veggies. How much did my order of one chicken and one pork tamale cost? $3. Yikes. I figured I'd better spend more money there, and went back to the meat counter and bought a half pound of head cheese, hard to find in these parts. Sorry to say, I can't recommend it. Not much flavor, and the texture like an offal filled gummy bear.
There's much more to investigate in that little store. I told the guy up front I'd definitely be back. Very nice people in there, too, although clearly amused by my excitement in discovering their place.