Where to Get Your Tamale Fix in Austin This Holiday Season
By Lilli Hime,
2:05PM, Wed. Dec. 16, 2020
While a lot of our holiday traditions may look a little different this year (drive-thru Trail of Lights and Zoom family gatherings and what not), one thing we can still count on is our faithful food favorites. And whether you pair them with ketchup or salsa, nothing warms your tummy like those special-order Christmas tamales we wait all year for.
Originating from the centuries-old Mexican celebration of Las Posadas, these masa-enshrined bundles today represent the coming together of family and friends, usually because assembling these treats takes a homemade assembly line. But if you’re looking for something a little faster and less hands-on, fear not; we’ve got a roundup of where to procure some hot tamales this holiday season.
Between the colorful conchas and the custard-filled churros, a stop at this South Austin favorite is sure to grow your sweet tooth three sizes. And while this bakery is well known for its wide assortment of Mexican sweet breads and its 24 hour service to satisfy late night cravings, don’t forget to add tamales on your order. With classics like rajas with cheese, red pork, and green chicken, La Mexicana is a great stop for dinner and dessert.
The Arriagas family opened their doors, and their kitchen, back in 1973, and for nearly 50 years now, their family-owned and operated business has stood the test of time, pumping out tamales for the Austin masses. And, as their menu says, these tamales are “FABULOUS.”
Another family-owned business representing authentic Mexican cuisine and old-style Austin vibes, El Borrego De Oro is must-try stop on our tamale-city-tour. And though the red brick exterior may give off a modest look, you don’t want to underestimate their food. Just give them a call to pre-order any of their traditional tamales, including chicken, pork, and cheese.
If you look past the rim of their original avocado margarita, you’ll be able to see that Curra’s tamales also boast some pretty unique tastes. Yes, we’re talking about the specialty salmon and crab fillings (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!). The restaurant also offers a choice between corn husk and banana leaf wrappers, but that’s a dispute we’ll let you decide.
This Eastside staple has been serving tamales from a variety of locations around town since 1958 and doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon. With signature dishes like their chilaquiles and “mom’s migas,” their homemade tamales live up to the same standard. Get them by the half dozen or individually to mix and match flavors. Whatever you do, don’t forget the signature sauce – chocolate mole or chicken tomatillo, anyone?
Tamale Addiction has made its way around town, from a farmer’s market stall to a food truck to local shops like Bennu and BookPeople. Proud to be fresh, organic, and delicious since 2010, Tamale Addiction serves up a unique variety of organic options for meat lovers and vegetarians alike, from xochitl queso fresco to pork tomatillo and even the more eccentric tastes of the pineapple dessert tamales.
True to the latter half of their name, this modern Tex-Mex mini-chain has opened orders for tamales at the more single-person-friendly half-dozen count, frozen to thaw and reheat at home. It’s all traditional fillings here, with pork, chicken, and black bean and cheese to choose from.
Fresa’s is serving up chicken tinga and black bean and cheese tamales this holiday season. Available for pre-order only, the restaurant is scheduling pick-up slots for the days before Christmas, which means peak freshness for your feasts. (Sold out at press time.)
An Austin institution for plant-based eating, Mr. Natural serves up house-made, meatless tamales for vegetarian and vegan Austinites. This includes original flavors like tofu and sunflower fillings and veggie filling. Now the restaurant is taking special holiday orders of tamales by the half dozen and family-sized dinner orders.
Venturing all the way from El Paso, this Spiderhouse-based truck dishes out Mexican plant-based street food, with strong influences from its bordertown origins. And though its staple is vegan food like the green chile and cheese tamales, the soya turkey or seitan steak fillings might even turn a few meat lovers to their cause.
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