Deadheading in an unexpected rainstorm down Hwy 1 last night to Santa Cruz, I glanced at my watch and figured that I might have just enough time to check out a chowhound tip for tamales in Pescadero.
The place was Taqueria y Mercado Los Amigos on the corner of Pescadero Creek and Stage Roads. This is the general store next to the gas station which also sells pan dulce and prepared Mexican foods. There are breakfast items on the menu and a selection of aguas frescas and fresh squeezed orange juice too. A handful of formica-topped tables for eating aqui. The sign on the door says they're open 6am to 10pm, although the kitchen may not be serving all those hours.
I ordered a pork tamale($1.30) and a tamale dulce ($1.00). I was careful to clarify with the counter man that I wanted the tamale "con anana", and he said, si, tamale dulce. OK. Chips and a couple salsas were available for self-service. The salsa fresca and a mild but flavorful ripe tomatoey one were very fresh tasting, and the chips were warm and ultra-crackly. So far, so good.
The pork tamale was topped with a mild fresh tomato sauce with a few flecks of red pepper flakes. The masa was the fluffy crumbly style, not my favorite, but good for the genre. The pork was generous in quantity, lean and unadorned. Certainly good but not worth a special trip for.
The tamale dulce (which I took two bites of then wrapped the remainder to go) was fragrant with the aroma of sweet pineapple and the masa had some crispy browned marks where the juice had carmelized. But none of the pineapple chunks inside that I was expecting. This was a little on the dry side without any sauce and I found myself wishing for a spot of crema mexicana. Has anyone else had these babies? Did I get the real deal?
My little detour took 25 minutes from the time I exited the highway, ordered, ate and returned to Hwy 1.