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Yellow and red tamales, made with pineapple and raisin, respectively, bask on a stainless steel tray.
Pineapple (top) and raisin tamales from Evelia’s Tamales.
Clay Williams/Eater NY

9 Mexican Tamales Good Enough for Christmas but Perfect Year Round

Where to find tamales stuffed with black bean, zucchini, pork ribs, mole, and more

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Pineapple (top) and raisin tamales from Evelia’s Tamales.
| Clay Williams/Eater NY

Here in New York, tamales have never been as popular as their flattened, masa-made cousin the tortilla, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t standout versions of the dish to be found. A growing number of chefs are now making Mexican tamales by importing heirloom corn from Mexico or engaging in the painstaking process of nixtamalization. The tamales those efforts produce come steamed in corn husks, wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed between slices of bread, and filled with a dizzying array of meats, cheeses, fruits, and moles. Plus, they keep in the freezer for months. It’s your move, tortilla.

It’s well understood that the best tamales come from the steaming stainless steel pots of food vendors across the city, sometimes as early as 6 a.m., often only on weekends. Their hours, locations, and availability can be difficult to pin down, which is part of why this guide also includes a handful of Eater’s favorite brick-and-mortar restaurants. Some of the businesses listed here only serve tamales as weekend specials, while others sell out early, so set an alarm or call ahead before making the trek.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Yolanda’s Tamales

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W 145th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10031
(347) 499-3757
Visit Website

The owner of this longtime West Harlem street cart parks near the entrance of the 145th Street subway station at 7 a.m. most mornings, selling tamales stuffed with black beans, red and green mole, chicken, and cheese until she sells out. A standard tamal costs around $3 here, while a plumper Oaxaqueño, with chicken or pork, is a dollar more.

A hand clutches a tamal that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and overflowing with bits of chicken.
A Oaxaqueño overflows with chicken.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2. City Tamale

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1316 Oak Point Ave
The Bronx, NY 10474
(718) 991-1606
Visit Website

A short distance from the Bronx’s Hunts Point market, owner Israel Veliz has been making savory and sweet tamales with a variety of toppings since 2016. His recipe comes from his mother, who moved to the Bronx from the Mexican state of Puebla, and incorporates a little bit of baking soda for a hefty but delicate tamale priced around $3 each. Try the simple rajas version, stuffed with roasted jalapeno, tomato, and onion.

Inside of City Tamale, a tamale shop in the Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point.
Customers mill about City Tamale in Hunts Point.
Carla Vianna/Eater NY

3. Tamales Lupita

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154 E 112th St
New York, NY 10029
(917) 261-5058

This bright orange restaurant in East Harlem makes flautas and picaditas, but those aren’t the dishes that gave Tamales Lupita its name. Served with a side of chipotle dipping sauce, its chicken and cheese tamales combine two regional recipes, according to co-owner Catalina Jacinto, whose mother and father come from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Puebla, respectively.

Seven types of tamales are offered.
Here, tamales come with a side of chipotle dipping sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

4. Evelia's Tamales

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9607 Roosevelt Ave
Corona, NY 11368
(718) 986-2574
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Since 2002, Evelia Coyotzi has been selling nourishing and powerfully flavored tamales ($1.50) just below the 7 train at Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. Pork with red salsa is gently warming. Cilantro chicken exhibits an assertive grassiness. And best of all is the mole tamal; the inky sauce enrobes the tongue like warm chocolate and stings with an astringent, lingering heat. Don’t miss the larger Oaxacan tamales ($3), especially the ones with soft, gelatinous chicharron and finely-textured corn. Also, consider dropping by the new brick-and-mortar flagship a few blocks away.

People stand in line at a street vendor, Evelia’s Tamales, under a New York City subway line.
The line at Evelia’s Tamales.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

5. Factory Tamal

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34 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002
(917) 691-5524
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From this small storefront on the Lower East Side, owner Fernando Lopez churns out tamales in a half-dozen fashions, most priced around $5. Lopez is one of a handful tamale makers in the city to nixtamalize his corn, whereby kernels are soaked in food-grade calcium hydroxide — essentially a lime bath — for four to five hours. That painstaking process is to credit for the fluffy, flavorful tamales served here, filled with chipotle chicken and 20-ingredient mole poblano.

A chipotle with chicken tamale unwrapped from its corn husk.
A chicken tamale unsheathed from its corn husk.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

6. La Mesita

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1513 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 366-8700
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In a corner of Bushwick better known for its Dominican restaurants, La Mesita sells corn husk tamales and Oaxaqueños, steamed in plantain leaves, with red, green, and mole fillings. Tamales with pork aren’t as common in New York City, but here they’re the reason for coming, filled throughout with a deep meaty flavor for about $4 each.

Two Oaxaqueño tamales, unsheathed and perched on their banana paper wrapper.
Pork Oaxaqueños from La Mesita.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

7. Reyes Deli & Grocery

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532 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 369-3211
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It’s understood that some of the city’s best Mexican food is only available on weekends, as these tamales from Reyes Deli & Grocery go to show. This bodega on the edge of Park Slope and Gowanus churns out a full menu of Mexican bodega items, including burritos and breakfast tacos. Starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the deli sells red, green, and mole tamales for $2.50 each, until they sell out, along with cups of atole and barbacoa and goat belly tacos.

Signs advertising weekend tamale and atole specials hang at the front counter of Reyes Deli & Grocery, a Mexican bodega in Brooklyn.
The counter at Reyes Deli & Grocery, awash in weekend specials.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

8. Sobre Masa

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52 Harrison Pl
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(347) 844-2343
Visit Website

Diana and Zack Wangeman, the wife-and-husband team behind Sobre Masa in Bushwick, serve extremely delicious costra tacos, covered by large, leathery sheathes of griddled Oaxacan cheese. But a little secret is that before 3 p.m. the restaurant sells $6 tamales. If that seems expensive, that’s because these tamales are quite big, easily twice the size of competing varieties. Wangeman currently stuffs his high-quality masa with cilantro-laced pork or with rajas — creamy poblano pepper strips. A single tamal here is a proper lunch by itself.

A yellow tamal sits on a corn husk on a white plate
A lunch tamal from Sobre Masa.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

9. Tamales La Guelauetza

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Flatbush Ave & Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11238

This Prospect Heights tamales cart has leveled up considerably during the pandemic, from a mobile stand sheltered by an umbrella to this semi-enclosed operation with shelves for empanadas, churros, flan, and tres leches. Tamales come in all the usual styles, plus a few lesser-seen ones, like its pulakles, a regional tamal from Veracruz made with green bean, zucchini, black bean, and pumpkin seeds. Tamales La Guelauetza sets up shop at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue around 1 p.m. on Sundays, and earlier on Saturdays.

Customers line up at a tamales cart, called Tamales La Guelauetza, on a blistery New York day.
Tamales La Guelauetza, parked on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

1. Yolanda’s Tamales

W 145th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10031
A hand clutches a tamal that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and overflowing with bits of chicken.
A Oaxaqueño overflows with chicken.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The owner of this longtime West Harlem street cart parks near the entrance of the 145th Street subway station at 7 a.m. most mornings, selling tamales stuffed with black beans, red and green mole, chicken, and cheese until she sells out. A standard tamal costs around $3 here, while a plumper Oaxaqueño, with chicken or pork, is a dollar more.

W 145th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10031

2. City Tamale

1316 Oak Point Ave, The Bronx, NY 10474
Inside of City Tamale, a tamale shop in the Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point.
Customers mill about City Tamale in Hunts Point.
Carla Vianna/Eater NY

A short distance from the Bronx’s Hunts Point market, owner Israel Veliz has been making savory and sweet tamales with a variety of toppings since 2016. His recipe comes from his mother, who moved to the Bronx from the Mexican state of Puebla, and incorporates a little bit of baking soda for a hefty but delicate tamale priced around $3 each. Try the simple rajas version, stuffed with roasted jalapeno, tomato, and onion.

1316 Oak Point Ave
The Bronx, NY 10474

3. Tamales Lupita

154 E 112th St, New York, NY 10029
Seven types of tamales are offered.
Here, tamales come with a side of chipotle dipping sauce.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This bright orange restaurant in East Harlem makes flautas and picaditas, but those aren’t the dishes that gave Tamales Lupita its name. Served with a side of chipotle dipping sauce, its chicken and cheese tamales combine two regional recipes, according to co-owner Catalina Jacinto, whose mother and father come from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Puebla, respectively.

154 E 112th St
New York, NY 10029

4. Evelia's Tamales

9607 Roosevelt Ave, Corona, NY 11368
People stand in line at a street vendor, Evelia’s Tamales, under a New York City subway line.
The line at Evelia’s Tamales.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Since 2002, Evelia Coyotzi has been selling nourishing and powerfully flavored tamales ($1.50) just below the 7 train at Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. Pork with red salsa is gently warming. Cilantro chicken exhibits an assertive grassiness. And best of all is the mole tamal; the inky sauce enrobes the tongue like warm chocolate and stings with an astringent, lingering heat. Don’t miss the larger Oaxacan tamales ($3), especially the ones with soft, gelatinous chicharron and finely-textured corn. Also, consider dropping by the new brick-and-mortar flagship a few blocks away.

9607 Roosevelt Ave
Corona, NY 11368

5. Factory Tamal

34 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002
A chipotle with chicken tamale unwrapped from its corn husk.
A chicken tamale unsheathed from its corn husk.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

From this small storefront on the Lower East Side, owner Fernando Lopez churns out tamales in a half-dozen fashions, most priced around $5. Lopez is one of a handful tamale makers in the city to nixtamalize his corn, whereby kernels are soaked in food-grade calcium hydroxide — essentially a lime bath — for four to five hours. That painstaking process is to credit for the fluffy, flavorful tamales served here, filled with chipotle chicken and 20-ingredient mole poblano.

34 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002

6. La Mesita

1513 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Two Oaxaqueño tamales, unsheathed and perched on their banana paper wrapper.
Pork Oaxaqueños from La Mesita.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

In a corner of Bushwick better known for its Dominican restaurants, La Mesita sells corn husk tamales and Oaxaqueños, steamed in plantain leaves, with red, green, and mole fillings. Tamales with pork aren’t as common in New York City, but here they’re the reason for coming, filled throughout with a deep meaty flavor for about $4 each.

1513 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237

7. Reyes Deli & Grocery

532 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Signs advertising weekend tamale and atole specials hang at the front counter of Reyes Deli & Grocery, a Mexican bodega in Brooklyn.
The counter at Reyes Deli & Grocery, awash in weekend specials.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

It’s understood that some of the city’s best Mexican food is only available on weekends, as these tamales from Reyes Deli & Grocery go to show. This bodega on the edge of Park Slope and Gowanus churns out a full menu of Mexican bodega items, including burritos and breakfast tacos. Starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, the deli sells red, green, and mole tamales for $2.50 each, until they sell out, along with cups of atole and barbacoa and goat belly tacos.

532 4th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

8. Sobre Masa

52 Harrison Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11237
A yellow tamal sits on a corn husk on a white plate
A lunch tamal from Sobre Masa.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

Diana and Zack Wangeman, the wife-and-husband team behind Sobre Masa in Bushwick, serve extremely delicious costra tacos, covered by large, leathery sheathes of griddled Oaxacan cheese. But a little secret is that before 3 p.m. the restaurant sells $6 tamales. If that seems expensive, that’s because these tamales are quite big, easily twice the size of competing varieties. Wangeman currently stuffs his high-quality masa with cilantro-laced pork or with rajas — creamy poblano pepper strips. A single tamal here is a proper lunch by itself.

52 Harrison Pl
Brooklyn, NY 11237

9. Tamales La Guelauetza

Flatbush Ave & Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Customers line up at a tamales cart, called Tamales La Guelauetza, on a blistery New York day.
Tamales La Guelauetza, parked on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

This Prospect Heights tamales cart has leveled up considerably during the pandemic, from a mobile stand sheltered by an umbrella to this semi-enclosed operation with shelves for empanadas, churros, flan, and tres leches. Tamales come in all the usual styles, plus a few lesser-seen ones, like its pulakles, a regional tamal from Veracruz made with green bean, zucchini, black bean, and pumpkin seeds. Tamales La Guelauetza sets up shop at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue around 1 p.m. on Sundays, and earlier on Saturdays.

Flatbush Ave & Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11238

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