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Tamales (Photo courtesy of El Charro Cafe)

Foodie 15: The Best Tamales in Tucson

Updated June 6, 2024

Tamales — the pocket-sized wonders that bring joy with every bite. These little packages of happiness are like culinary gifts wrapped in corn husks, delivering a burst of flavor with each unwrapping. Whether you go for the traditional favorites during the holidays or are always down for a new food adventure, tamales are worth unwrapping any time of the year.

This Guide is part of a series that honors Tucson as the home of America’s Best Mexican Food

Learn how we create our guides here.

A photo of the interior of the Tucson mezcal bar known as El Crisol
El Crisol (Photo Credit: Anna Smirnova)

Crisol Bar

Foodie Favorite:
Sam Jump

“The green corn tamales at Crisol Bar were even better than I’d expected. Made in-house, the harmony of authentic Mexican flavors woven into the tender corn masa was stellar. And paired with a side of beans, they were somehow even more exceptional.”

Tamales at Del Cielo (Photo credit: Hannah Hernandez)

Del Cielo Tamales Restaurant

Foodie Favorite:
a woman sitting at a table with food
Hannah Hernandez

“This family-owned spot is always warm and welcoming. They’ve got a bunch of excellent vegan options to choose from, including green, red, and dessert tamales! Also, if you’re vegan or dairy-free and craving cheesecake, look no further.”

a tray of food
(Photo courtesy of El Charro Cafe)

El Charro Café Downtown

In 2022, El Charro Café celebrates its 100th Anniversary. As America’s oldest Mexican restaurant continuously run by the same family, El Charro has created a legacy. This long-time success is due to the hard work, passion, and creativity in the kitchen — the tamales are a must-try whether you live in Tucson or an out-of-towner stopping by for a few days. Plus, El Charro and Si Charro Restaurants have a “tamale of the month” club online.

 

a tray of food on a table
Tamales (Photo courtesy of El Sur)

El Sur Mexican Restaurant

All year, El Sur has tamales on the menu but during the holidays, they really get in the spirit with their homemade red and green corn tamales. Heck, if you’re super hungry or feeding an entire football team, the restaurant sells them by the dozen.

a plate of food on a table
Tamale Pie (Photo courtesy of El Torero)

El Torero Restaurant

(Photo courtesy of La Chaiteria)

La Chaiteria

The chalkboard menu features Latin-inspired dishes, owner and chef Wendy Garcia’s signature vegetarian and vegan options, an expanded latte menu, and tamales, of course. The menu is always changing — giving “regulars” something new to try from time to time.

Tamales (Photo courtesy of La Indita)

La Indita

La Indita, a Tucson classic specializing in Mexican, Tarascan, and Tohono O’odham food, got its start back in 1985. They spent years on Fourth Avenue and recently moved over to Stone Avenue in 2021. Next time you stop by, grab one of their chicken or green corn tamales.

Image by Víctor González from Pixabay

La Mesa Tortillas – Midtown

From the outside and the name, one might assume that La Mesa Tortillas is just another tortilleria (tortilla factory), but it’s also a restaurant where you can get full plates and bulk food to go. Did you know they’re now shipping tamales again? Well, ’tis the season!

a plate of food
Tamale Combo Plate at La Olla Mexican Cafe (Photo by J. Martin Harris Photography)

La Olla Mexican Cafe

Foodie Favorite:
a man wearing a hat

“La Olla (The Cooking Pot) is a family-owned restaurant operated by husband and wife Ken and Diane Gallardo, who have both been in the food and beverage business for right around 40 years. You’ll find them both working in the kitchen, which is a passion they share. If you don’t frequent Marana very often, the tamales are something that’ll convince you to come by more often.”

 

Image by Víctor González from Pixabay

Little Mexico Restaurant

Every recipe at Little Mexico Restaurant is a cherished creation from the families of Yolanda Palomarez and Socorro Estrada. There are a lot of dishes on the menu like chile con carne and birria, but set your sights on the Green Corn Tamales during your next (or first) visit.

a plate of food on a table
Tamale with rice, beans, and an enchilada (Photo courtesy of Plazita México Café)

Plazita México Café

Foodie Favorite:
C.J. Hamm

“This little gem is located just off Broadway on Sarnoff Road. What it lacks in size, makes up in classic Sonoran Mexican cuisine. Their red chile beef tamale breakfast plate, enchilada style, with rice and beans and their hot salsa, is a great way to start your day!”

a piece of food on a plate
Red chile tamales from St. Mary’s Mexican Food (Photo by Jackie Tran)

St. Mary’s Mexican Food

Although the red chile is most popular in the burros at St. Mary’s Mexican food, it’s also available 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.

a display in a store filled with lots of different types of food
Tamales to-go (Photo courtesy of Tanias 33)

Tanias 33

If the monstrous burritos are what first led you to Tanias, make sure you go home with some tamales to-go. Beef tamales, green corn tamales, vegan tamales, you name it! Be a champion at your next family gathering with a bag of these tasty tamales.

(Photo courtesy of Tucson Tamale)

Tucson Tamale Company

Foodie Favorite:
Shane Reiser

“We have a lot to be grateful for from Tucson Tamale. They are putting Tucson on the map nationally, selling hundreds of thousands of tamales in grocery stores around the country with the name of our city stamped on every single tamale. Their origin story is legit and their products are delicious.”

a plate of food on a table
Tamale at Tumerico (Photo credit: Hannah Hernandez)

Tumerico on 6th Street

Foodie Favorite:
a woman sitting at a table with food
Hannah Hernandez

“My nana’s tamales are hard to beat, but Tumericos’ vegan red chile jackfruit tamales come really close! I make sure to grab a couple dozen every year to bring to all of the holiday dinners.”

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