Dec 8, 2022 - Food and Drink

Austin's best tamales

Tamales at Curras in South Austin

A tasty stack of tamales at Curra's Grill in South Austin. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

With the holidays fast approaching, we asked Axios Austin readers for tamale recommendations, and they didn't disappoint.

The big picture: You guys really like steamed masa.

Polly F. observed that "your best bet is the grandmama of someone you are pals with or your co-worker."

  • She also waxed nostalgic about the time she bought tamales from a young woman, out of an ice chest at a gas station.
  • "I hung out at the Valero for several evenings hoping she would make a return visit, but no luck. My advice is: if you buy from a street vendor, eat one as soon as you are back in your car. If they are yummy, buy more. If not, no harm done!"

And speaking of abuelas, Bobbie G.H. says Delicious Tamales on East Oltorf "make exceptional tamales that are pretty darn close to the tamales my grandmother made."

Several of you recommended the tamales at Curra's, also on Oltorf. Merrell F. remembers that back in the late 1990s, "we could just walk in right before Christmas and order a dozen to go on the spot, but they're so popular now that we have to order online well in advance for the holiday season."

  • "We love the traditional spicy bean, veggie, chicken and pork."

Dawn S. writes that "the best tamales are 'trunk tamales' …. The ones you get from someone who does it on the side for as a church fundraiser. My personal connect is Yvette Quezada whom I met via Facebook in the El Pasoans Living in Austin group. We have an order in for three dozen for this year — I will meet her in a parking lot somewhere to pick them up!"

Jesse S. points us to Marcelino's on Tillery in East Austin, which he reports opens at 5am and is usually sold out by 6:30am.

  • "For a reason: Their pork tamales with tomatillo sauce are 🔥!"

For vegetarian tamales, Hilda G. likes the ones at Mr. Natural.

💭 Asher's thought bubble: I'm loyal to the tamales from Tamale Addiction — which a bunch of you also endorse — and which you can find in farmers markets in Austin, Buda and Dripping Springs, at Wheatsville and at Dia's, as well as at their kitchen in Manor.

  • They're not cheap, but the tamales — like their Chiapaneco with its mix of chicken, mole, prunes, raisins, fried plantains and olives — are a cut above.
  • Wedding pro tip: Proprietor Adrian Paredes made a late-night drop off of his tamales at my backyard nuptials a decade ago — much to the delight of our out-of-town friends.

What's next: Travis Heights Elementary, at 2010 Alameda Drive, will sell tamales made by parents and school staff from 9am-noon Saturday at the school's annual Cultural Festival.


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