Takeout Tamales in Portland?
April 27, 2006 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Are there good takeout tamales in Portland somewhere? Where?

Mrs. PDB and I are having a Seis de Mayo party next Saturday, and our grand plan to bring back some of the best tamales I've had (from Lerua's in Tucson) fell through when my trip to Tucson this weekend was called off.

So, is there a place in Portland that does really good tamales for takeout sale by the bag? Cost isn't really an issue, nor is locale - I'm in NW, but I'll go wherever in the Portland metro area that there are good tamales to be had.
posted by pdb to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maine isn't noted for its mexican food. New England isn't, for that matter. There was an authentic, good place (run by transplants from California) at the site of the former Vincenzo's on Cushing Street up in Brunswick, but Googling suggests that it didn't make it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2006

Sorry, shoulda been more clear - Portland, OR is where I'm looking for tamales...
posted by pdb at 8:37 AM on April 27, 2006

Maybe try Cha! Cha! Cha! I cannot vouch for their tamales, but there's nothing I love more than picking up a bag of take-out tacos from them. They have a location in Sellwood and another someplace in Northwest...
posted by jdroth at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2006

Just to get some more clarification, what exactly makes a good tamale?

Have you tried Ole Ole, located at about 30th & E Burnside? They have great food and I've tried the tamales but I dunno if they're anything special or not.
posted by J-Garr at 11:57 AM on April 27, 2006

You may be understandably dubious, but the Costco at E. Airport way has had some darn good pork tamales. The brand is "Rose's" or "Rosie's" IIRC. They are not frozen. Just bring them home and steam them with whatever veggie steamer arrangement you have.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2006

A good tamale, to me, means that the flavor of the filling (whether meat or veggie) still comes through and is strong enough to offset the masa dough that holds it all together.

A lot of tamales I've had outside AZ are basically corn totilla burritos, and I don't want that; I also don't want something that you have to drown in hot sauce to make them have a taste. I'll try Ole Ole this weekend, and give Cha Cha Cha a shot too - thanks!
posted by pdb at 12:43 PM on April 27, 2006

Check out King Burrito in Portland's own cartland.
posted by GarageWine at 12:49 PM on April 27, 2006

I'd definitely recommend the tamales from La Bonita taqueria on NE 29th and Alberta (503-281-3662). They have chicken and vegan versions – both are really good, the vegan model featuring a slightly sweeter mixture of peppers. Another bonus is you can order tamales by the dozen if you give them a few hours' notice, perfect for an easy backyard party. Pretty much everything at La Bonita is top-notch. The ingredients are fresh, the meat is tender, portions are huge; and the staff is super friendly.

The Don Pancho taqueria on 20th & Alberta has unbelievably good tacos al pastor, but I haven't had their tamales yet. In fact, the tacos al pastor are so good I haven't tried anything else yet.

If you head to Alberta St. tonight, you'll enjoy/endure the Last Thursday Art Walk traffic at either taqueria. You'll wait a little longer for your tamales, but you'll be so distracted by the art and/or freaks that you won't care.
posted by danblaker at 1:19 PM on April 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

In my haste to recommend my fave taquerias, I missed the part about your Seis de Mayo party. So yeah, La Bonita is ideal for your situation. I've featured their tamales (and my "Mexican-style" grilled corn-on-the-cob) at many a backyard barbecue.
posted by danblaker at 1:32 PM on April 27, 2006

Hmm. I usually get the quesadilla but I'm wondering whether or not Pepino's at Hawthorne & 38th would have the perfect tamale you desire? Might be worh a shot. Can't beat the prices.
posted by tristero at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2006

hehe blaker.

yeah blaker's right. La Bonita's tamales are pretty solid.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2006

Lately I've been very excited about the tamales ($15 for a dozen) at a place who's name escapes me. It's in Tigard on 99W next to the Joy Theater, IIRC.
posted by turbodog at 9:30 PM on April 27, 2006

Both taquerias on Alberta are fine, but please don't go to Cha Cha Cha's, and please don't call the food there Mexican, or good for that matter (as if the sign didn't give it away--"The Mexican Taqueria." Makes you want to throw up at least a little bit, no?)
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 2:32 AM on May 3, 2006

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