5 places to get the best tamales in Las Cruces for the holiday season
The making of tamales, which goes back to 7,000 B.C. in Mesoamerica, is an important holiday tradition for Mexican-American families today. Here's why. IndyStar
LAS CRUCES — Tamales are a holiday staple in the southwest and family gatherings here just aren't the same without them.
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish that dates back as early as 7000 B.C. in ancient Mesoamerica. The tamal is made of masa or dough (starchy, and usually corn-based), steamed in a corn husk or even a banana leaf. Then, the tamal is filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies or anything else, and wrapped.
The Sun-News went on a mission to find the best tamales in Las Cruces.
Some residents argued their abuela (grandmother) made the best tamales while others argued that the best can be found in your local grocery store parking lot. Many car trunk tamale fans plead with their favorite street vendors to open their own business.
While we won't argue grandma's or the tamale lady's cooking is delicious, we're sticking to licensed restaurants in this review. Here's where you can find some of the best tamales in town:
1. Bosa Donuts & Burritos
What: Bosa Donuts & Burritos have been making tamales for the past eight years and shows no signs of stopping. The donut shop said they are known for their delicious red tamales.
"One of the things we do is we make them bigger than your average tamale," William Cardoza, owner of Bosa Donuts & Burritos said. "We make our own special red sauce and we put a lot of meat in them. Our masa is corn based."
Where to get it: Bosa Donuts & Burritos, 190 Avenida de Mesilla
When: 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays (Black Friday, hours may differ); 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays
Cost: $15 for a dozen or $1.77 for each individual
Info: Call 575-526-3388 or visit www.facebook.com/pages/Bosa-Donuts/116173758411643
2. Matteo's Authentic Mexican Food
What: Matteo's is serving up Hatch red chile with pork tamales all through winter and the restaurant says it has been selling out within hours. So, if you want tamales from Matteo's, arrive early before they're all gone for the day.
"We will be serving them until Dec. 31. They’re made from scratch just like grandma used to make them," Melody Rios, co-owner of Matteo's said. "They're made fresh daily from scratch and cooked as soon as they're made. You're consuming the tamales just like you were at grandma’s, they’re made in house with real ingredients."
Besides using Hatch red chile, Rios said their secret ingredient is love. Bonus: Matteo's tamales are also gluten free.
Where to get it: Matteo's Authentic Mexican Food, 1001 E. University Ave. C-1
When: Matteo's tamales are only sold at 11 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays while supplies last. Matteo's will be open on Black Friday at 9 a.m. and will be offering its signature champurrado.
Cost: $18 a dozen, $10 half a dozen and $2 individually
3. Chachi's Express
What: If you're ever in the mood for tamales and it's not the holidays, visit Chachi's Express, which sells tamales year round for your convenience.
"What makes ours unique is that we include enchilada sauce, red or green, and put it on top," Miriam Ornelas, manager of Chachi's said. "I believe they stand out more than other tamales in town because ours are pretty spicy and also because we do put sauce on top of them. Not a lot of restaurants serve anything other than a tamale, so they get kind of dry. The extra sauce on ours makes them feel a little bit more moist and spicy."
Where to get it: Chachi's Express, 2320 S. Locust St.
When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays, closed on Thanksgiving and Sundays
Cost: $15 per dozen
Info: Call 575-522-7322 or visit www.chachis-lc.com or www.facebook.com/pages/category/Mexican-Restaurant/Chachis-Express-105740810815487
4. Roberto's Mexican Food
What: Roberto's Mexican Food has been serving hot, spicy, delicious Mexican food in Las Cruces since 1980. You may have heard of Roberto's, as in Roberto Estrada, who hold the Guinness World Record for the largest three-layered flat Enchilada — yes, that guy. Estrada says the restaurant — established as La Bonita Mexican Food Products in 1968 — has been in the business of making tamales for the last 55 years.
"We offer red chile pork, green chile and cheese and green chile and chicken tamales," Estrada said. "We still cook our own corn and grind it. A lot of other places they use maseca. That's the difference between fresh cooked corn and masa."
Where to get it: Roberto's Mexican Food, 908 E. Amador Ave.
When: Mondays through Saturdays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $11.75 a dozen
Info: Call 575-523-1851 or visit robertosmexicanfoods.com
5. El Indio Tortilla Shop
What: El Indio Tortilla Shop prides itself on using traditional recipes passed down from families. In business for 30 years, this Mexican restaurant and grocery store also offers sweet tamales. If you have a sweet tooth, El Indio Tortilla Shop is for you!
"We have red chile with pork, green chile with chicken and cheese and sweet tamales. Our sweet tamales are made sugar, anise and raisins. A lot of people like to use coconut and other ingredients but we like to keep it simple," Manny Castillo, co-owner of El Indio Tortilla Shop said. "We offer them everyday, they're frozen and always in stock but a week before Christmas they're always made fresh. All the recipes are from my parents, my mom is from Mexico, so we use traditional Mexican recipes."
Where to get it: El Indio Tortilla Shop, 150 E. Madrid Ave.
When: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays; Call on Black Friday, hours might differ. Closed on Sundays.
Cost: $14.50 a dozen
Info: Call 575-525-2209 or visit www.facebook.com/Elindiotortilla/
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