If you don’t have any loving friends or family to share tamales with you this time of year, I’m sorry.
Thankfully, it’s difficult go a few miles without finding tamales in Tucson available for purchase.
Updated for 2017, here’s your best bets when looking for tamales in Tucson this holiday season.
Carlota’s offers red chile and green corn chile tamales to northwest Tucson residents. When purchased to go, the cheese comes on the side.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out or cater. Call at least one day ahead to prepare large orders.
For more information, visit Carlota’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine on Yelp.
For Sonoran-style tamales, order the red beef or green corn tamales at Crossroads. The red beef tamal is covered in red sauce with carrot, potato and green olive in the filling. The sweeter green corn tamal is smothered with cheese. Tamale plates are served with refried beans, salad and Spanish rice.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out or call to cater your party.
For more information, visit crossroadsfinemexican.com.
El Charro’s tamal plating is more elegant that most tamales, but tastes no less comforting. Currently varieties include fresh corn, chicken tomatillo, red chile beef, pumpkin, and Christmas tamales.
How to Get: Dine-in, cater your party, or order take-out. El Charro Café offers the special Christmas (Corn with Red Chiles) and Pumpkin varieties through the holidays only. They recommend calling in your order at least one day in advance for prepared party catering.
For more information, visit elcharrocafe.com.
Red beef and green corn tamales are cheap and plentiful at El Sur. Served with rice, salad, and refried beans, the waitress will come to your table to offer you fresh grilled onions and chiles to top off your meal.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out, or catered. A notice of one day is required for frozen or prepared dozens.
For more information, visit elsurrestaurant.com.
For a taste of Tohono Tarascan-style Mexican food, head to La Indita. Their chicken and green corn tamales are served covered in red sauce with a light layer of cheese.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out, or cater your party. Please order 2-3 days in advance for catering and special orders.
For more information, visit lainditarestauranttucson.com.
The red chile tamales available in beef, pork, or chicken all come with a Spanish olive and are made gluten-free with traditional masa. The green corn tamales are on the savory side with Hatch chiles and cheese.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out, or cater.
For more information, visit lamesatortillas.com.
Lerua’s vegetarian green corn tamales have a legendary local reputation. Their in-house stone mill to grinds the corn they source from northern Mexico for their distinctive taste and quality. They also offer varieties such as red chile beef, red chile chicken, and carnitas with seasonal varieties such as the special Christmas red chile beef (made with raisins, olives, and/or jalapeños for an authentic holiday tradition), sweet pumpkin (dessert), and traditional sweet bean (dessert), which are filled with cinnamon, piloncillo sugar, clove, nutmeg, puréed pinto bean, and raisin filling.
How to Get: Lerua’s makes more than 15,000 dozen tamales in-house every year and offers prepared or frozen catering and take-out.
For more information, visit leruasfinemexicanfoods.com.
The only tamale available at Mi Nidito is red beef, made with the green olive topped with red sauce. Every part of the tamale is made from scratch, including the masa. It’s part of the local favorite President’s Plate.
How to Get: Dine-in, take-out or cater your next fiesta. Call one day ahead for prepared plates, or stop by for frozen dozens.
For more information, visit minidito.net.
Although the red chile is most popular in the burros at St. Mary’s Mexican food, it’s also available via inside their bountiful tamales. Green corn tamales are also available.
How to Get: Call one day ahead for freshly prepared tamales, or stop by for frozen dozens.
For more information, visit St. Mary’s Mexican Food on Yelp.
In addition to the standard red chile beef and green corn, Tania’s also offers vegan red chile jamaica tamales. Jamaica, also known as hibiscus, provides a satisfying shredded and chewy texture — think along the lines of jackfruit.
How to Get: Freshly-prepared tamales are available hot or refrigerated by the dozen.
For more information, visit tanias33.com.
Tucson Tamale Company can please anyone with virtually any sort of dietary restriction. Vegetarians, Alton Browns, vegans, and more all enjoy the wide variety of quality flavors ranging from traditional green corn to unorthodox flavors such as the St. Valentine with milk chocolate chips and sweet red cherries in cocoa masa.
How to Get: Order in person, online, or at one of over a hundred grocery store locations in Arizona.
For more information, visit tucsontamale.com.
Where are your favorite tamales in Tucson? Let us know in the comments.
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran’s Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...