How Phoenikera Moms Will Save Your Tamal Cravings This Season
Living in La Phoenikera, whether you are Latinx or not, you’ve probably had tamales during the holidays. Tamales are a staple food in Latin America and there are many different versions, from sweet to savory, from white to colorful, from corn husk to banana peel wrappers.
The word tamal (plural for tamales…one tamal, two tamales, NOT one tamale, two tamales) comes from the Náhuatl word tamalli, which means wrapped. Some countries don’t call these corn-based wrapped concoctions tamales though. In Bolivia for example, some of them are called humitas or humintas.
In La Phoenikera there are people from all over Latin America and it’s a treat to be able to taste different kind of tamales. If you’re a Latinx Phoenikerx, you most likely have a mom, aunt or friend’s relative that feeds you these delicious creations throughout the year and definitely during the holidays.
To write this article, we asked Phoenikerxs to tell us who is their favorite “señora de los tamales” (tamal lady, again, not “tamale” lady) so we could put together a list of where you can find them if you don’t have someone close that can make them for you. Especially if you have a party or posada to go to and you want to show off.
Most of the responses were “mi mamá.” No joke, everyone thinks their mom is the best tamal maker in La Phoenikera. I don’t blame them, I firmly believe my mom makes the best ones and my friends can attest to that. One response was “también hay señores.” It’s true, men also make tamales.
So after asking more people where they get good tamales in our beautiful city, this is what we put together. It’s not your typical list but but it’s for Phoenikerxs by Phoenikerxs. We hope it’s helpful for you this holiday season!
Your friend’s mom
Since everybody and their mother makes the best tamales, ask around in your friend circle to see if anyone’s moms are selling some! Aunts also work. It’s very common for Latina ladies (and men) to make tamales to sell during the holiday season. It’s a way to make extra money.
If you’re vegetarian, the rajas con queso (chile and cheese) and corn options are popular with ladies who make tamales so ask if they make these.
For the vegans out there, authentic tamal recipes include lard but we got you!
A Phoenikero’s mom makes vegan spicy jackfruit tamales and chile and cheese ones for vegetarians. Her name is Anna Olivia Muñoz and word has it they’re pretty bomb #ZacatecasStyle. You can place orders by texting 602-513-9963.
Scroll down for more vegan options.
Outside of Food City, El Super, Ranch Market and apparently Walgreens
If you shop at any of these places, you’ve probably seen ladies (and men) selling tamales in the parking lot. These might be a hit or miss when it comes to taste but we think it’s worth the risk. You might find some real gems!
We got specific recommendations for:
Walgreens on 36th Street and Thomas
Ranch Market on 16th Street and Roosevelt
Food City on 19th Avenue and Indian School
Note about this, don’t go asking inside the store if they’ve seen the tamal lady. Most of the time, they’re not allowed to sell in the parking lot and they’re doing a public service to us by risking themselves and doing it anyway. Don’t kill it by getting them in trouble!
No joke they sell tamales through offer up and some people deliver! So download the app and get on that shit. Thanks to Phoenikero artist Bobby Castañeda for the tip.
Your nearest carnicería
A lot of us live close to a carnicería (Mexican butcher’s shop) ‘cuz they are all over the La Phoenikera. If you live in a bougie area of the city where you are deprived of one, head to your closest Latinx neighborhood, you’ll find one! They have bomb tamales and we also bought barbacoa to make tamales one year because we didn’t want to make the meat ourselves.
Whenever we go to the farmer’s market, we always find a booth where they sell tamales. Some of the people selling them are white folk but hey, they can make good tamales too. Kudos to them if they are so compelled… just please don’t put cream cheese in them!
We got a specific recommendation from a Phoenikera who said that the uptown farmers market has awesome tamales by Raul’s Cocina. Another recommendation was The Tamale Store at the farmers market in downtown La Phoenikera. It bugs me that they say tamale though, not gonna lie.
Inside Ranch Market is a safe place to get tamales, especially during this season. There are different locations in La Phoenikera so you can google your nearest one. Also if you want to make your own but don’t know how to prepare the masa, they sell it by the pound!
Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts
I thought these were unlikely places when I first heard of them but of course, they have vegan and vegetarian options.
Disclaimer… We Latinxs have what we call callo (callous) in our tummies. I mean, we don’t literally have callous, but it’s a way to say we have an inherit tolerance for street food. If you don’t think you do, stick to the stores and away from the tamal ladies and don’t go blaming them (or us) if something doesn’t go well.