by Nikki Metzgar - 206 Reviews - 77 List
For certain families in Houston, the holidays mean soaking corn husks, masa-tangled hair and straining liquid lard. That's right, we mean tamales! It's hardly Christmas without these plump, handmade packages--but we could do without the hours of toil. Here are some places to buy tamales almost as good as grandma's. (Photo: Goode Co. Seafood's tamales)
Updated: December 07, 2009
As delicious food in Houston often is, these tamales are sold out of a rather dilapidated little shack. Not only are they an excellent deal at $9.50 per dozen, they represent a model of tamale goodness--a solid meat-to-masa ratio and moist, flavorful filling. Both chicken and pork are available, but be sure to request the handmade variety or you might go home with machine made.
The menu at Hugo's is filled with such tantalizing items as the sopesitas topped with duck and the slow-roasted pork in banana leaves that it's difficult to choose the modest tamale. But, stuffed with delicate-yet-well-seasoned flakey red snapper, the tamales de pescado are definitely worth your time. It's too cold for the pretty patio, but a tequila and grapefruit soda will heat you up and remind you of warmer days.
Under the flutter of cut-paper streamers, Dona Tere serves blue-ribbon tamales for size, variety and flavor. Try the chicken with decadent mole sauce, pork and spicy chile sauce or one of the sweet tamales, like pineapple. All of these could crush a puny Tex-Mex tamale with their heft and are made with wonderfully creamy masa.
At $7.95 for three, Goode Company's shrimp and crab tamales are a pricier option for bulk purchase but, like their pecan pies, these seasonal goodies have a devoted following. Firm bites of shrimp mingle with light crab meat for a luxurious flavor, heightened by the super-addictive salsa Campeche.
As you wander the T'afia farmers market on Saturday morning or head out after seeing a band at the Mink, you may start to feel the magnetic tug of tamales from nearby Tacos A Go Go. These tamales have masa as white as a snow drift (we think--we've never seen one) and pair perfectly with a drippy lamb taco for the warm-belly effect.