Where You Can Get 5 of the Tastiest Tamales in Dallas

Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory's tamales (photography by Kellie Spano)
Dallas Tortilla and Tamale Factory’s tamales (photography by Kellie Spano)

Not a lot of people share my last name. Dablo is technically Filipino, but I am half-Hispanic (dad) and half-white (mom). I grew up in Dallas, but I’ve made many family trips down to Galveston in the past, where my dad grew up and spoke Spanish in his house. Unfortunately, I never learned to speak fluently, but I have learned the language and culture after taking so many classes in high school and college. That being said, I am very proud of my Hispanic heritage. This explains why my favorite food is Mexicana and why my love for tamales is so great. Nothing quite trumps the authentic and homemade ones I used to get in Galveston or the ones my dad brings back from his hunting trips down south, but I’ve compiled a list of five tasty tamale spots in Dallas that you might also enjoy.

Pepe’s and Mito’s Mexican Cafe
2911 Elm St.
$8.95

Even though Pepe’s and Mito’s is owned by a family from my high school, my family didn’t check out this Deep Ellum spot until early this summer. These tamales were probably some of the best I’ve ever had. The masa and filling were perfectly balanced, flavorful and moist, and they didn’t need any extra sauce or topping. (I know it’s weird, but sometimes I like to put ketchup in my tamales.) It was easy to taste the homemade quality of this Mexican comfort food. It’s no wonder that Nancy named this restaurant one of the best Tex-Mex spots in Dallas.

Tena's frozen tamales (photography by Carol Shih)
Tena’s frozen tamales (photography by Carol Shih)

Tena’s Texas Tamales
Four Seasons Farmers Market
677 W. Campbell Rd., Richardson.
$8.00 each, sold frozen

Tena was working in the heat handing out samples and her frozen packs of tamales at the market. She sells three different combos – vegetarian, gourmet meat (chicken), and traditional. The vegetarian has two jalapeños and cheese, two southwest sweet potatoes, and two beans and cheese tamales. The gourmet meat combo includes two turkey and dressings, two chipotle BBQ porks, and two buffalo chickens. The chicken combo comes with three red chile chickens and three garden green chile chickens. The traditional combo has two pork, two chickens, and two bean and cheese tamales.

La Popular Tamale House 
5004 Columbia Ave #103 and the Dallas Farmers Market

Named one of the “Best Tamales in Dallas” by D, it only makes sense that the pork and jalapeño tamale from La Popular Tamale House came in as my second favorite. The tamale wasn’t too spicy, and you could still taste the heat from the jalapeños. The spicy sauce that came with it was a perfect addition. Beware, though: The sauce is spicy, but I couldn’t stop reading it, for some reason. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was sweating. There was just enough masa to pork, without either overpowering the other. We also ordered the breakfast taco with egg and chorizo. (Get this with the flour tortillas.)

photography by Carol Shih
photography by Carol Shih

Along Came Tamale
Frisco Farmers Market (August 17) and Bolsa Mercado

These aren’t exactly what you would expect when biting into a warm tamale. They’re dessert tamales. They’re sweet, so you may have some mixed feelings about trying these out, but I can tell you they are very tasty. Flavors include apple, blueberry, chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin, and pineapple. Carol and I tried the pineapple and blueberry ones inside D Magazine’s kitchen area, and we attracted a small crowd of interns wanting to try, too. You could see little specs of blueberries and definitely taste the fruity flavors. They’re also gluten-free, lard-free, contain zero preservatives, zero high fructose corn syrup, and there’s no trans fat. Sounds like you could eat one of these for breakfast – especially the cinnamon raisin.

The Tamale Company's pumpkin tamale with whipped cream and a mint leaf
The Tamale Company’s pumpkin tamale with whipped cream and a mint leaf

The Tamale Company
White Rock Local Market and The Green Spot
$12 a dozen

These tamales are also lard, gluten, and MSG-free, but as a unique feature, you can boil them in the bag. The Tamale Company also caters and ships frozen tamales anywhere in the United States on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before 2 p.m. I bought chicken tomatillo ones from The Green Spot and pork ones at the market on a Saturday. If you’d like to pick them up yourself like I did, you can find them pretty much anywhere in and around Dallas. Check out their blog for recipes and more. This company has got its masa together.

Marley Dablo is the culinary intern at D Magazine. She will be an online journalism senior at the University of Oklahoma this coming fall. She plans to attend culinary school upon graduation in hopes of combining her writing and kitchen skills to ultimately have her own cooking show one day.

18 comments on “Where You Can Get 5 of the Tastiest Tamales in Dallas

  1. You missed on this one.
    La Victoria is the best tamale in town. No contest.
    Best ratio of masa to filling wins the day.

  2. Oh, really, some of these places that post off-base absence-of-offending-ingredient info to assuage the concerns of their clients (referred to by one restaurant owner as her “intolerants”) need to get with a competent food chemist and check a few things out. Um, any tamal worthy of the title is gluten free. There is no gluten in corn. And traditional fillings, unless it was some type of meat that had either been cooked in Tex-Mex chili gravy or a frontera-style guiso, would not contain gluten either. MSG? When, in the wide, wide world of sports were tamales contaminated with MSG? Anyone who slips some in the masa or filling needs to be taken straightaway to the litte stone table at the top of the Tlaloc’s Temple at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City, and disciplined accordingly. And as for poor, maligned lard consider the follwing; the first from Cooking for Engineers: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/40/Saturated-Fats-Cholesterol-and-Heart-Disease
    and the other from Zarela Martinez: http://www.zarela.com/2010/praise-the-lard-los-angeles-times. Then, compare the chemical profiles of processed lard generally available in supermarkets and that of lard from free range, organically raised hogs. Yes, it is still a saturated fat and we shouldn’t eat it daily … but, as La Reina Diana (Kennedy) has observed: tamales are made for an occasion, and an occasion is made of making them. They are luxe food to be savored. They are not daily fare. And, they still haven’t found the best place in the Metroplex for tamales …

  3. While it does not have the imprimatur of La Popular and other neighborhood purveyors, Central Market’s tamales (the ones wrapped in foil in the food court) are pretty good, especially the chicken tomatillo.

  4. I don’t see that pumpkin tamale for sale on the Tamale Company website, is that a one off? I assume it’s a pumpkin pie filling?

  5. I know it is not some quaint little taco shack, but the Uncle Julio’s chicken tamale cannot be overlooked.

  6. She mentions in the article that she grew up in Dallas and that the Deep Ellum restaurant is owned by a family that she knew in high school. She listed 5 places, of course she didn’t get everyones favorite but it is a solid list.

  7. I agree with Amy, Uncle Julio’s does have a great tamal but, lets be realistic the tamale company should not have made this list. C’mon folks this is Texas & you should know a handmade delicious tamal vs. theirs and they get too much hype for a mediocre product .

  8. Steven Pyle’s wild mushroom tamale at Stampede 66 is the best tamale I’ve ever had in my mouth!

  9. The Slow Bone makes the best tamale I have ever tasted. Stuffed with a large portion of smoked brisket & the masa is wonderful. The brisket hush puppies are delicious too. Jack Perkins is a master in the kitchen.

  10. The Slow Bone makes the best tamales I have ever tasted. The masa flavor is wonderful & with a large portion of smoked brisket meat it’s hard to beat. The brisket hush puppies are also delicious Jack Perkins is a master in the kitchen.

  11. Pepe’s and Mito’s should not be on any best of list…come on, put a little more effort into these articles. I think most of these are written by young staff people that have not even eaten in these locations. they look online read a few blogs and write something based on 1/2 hour of research