For many, tamales are synonymous with the holiday season.

But tamales require a lot of work and technique learned over years of practice. Not everyone has the bandwidth to make them — so let’s explore where we can get tamales in Tucson.

The most reliable places to get tamales are from restaurants in Tucson. You’ll be able to find tamales at El Torero and Perfecto’s, though El Torero isn't taking orders this year (you can go in person or call day-of for pickup, while supplies last). You can also find tamales at carnicerias: Carniceria El Aguajito or Supercarniceria Del Valle order tamales through local artisans. The catch here is that their stock is dropped off first thing in the morning: once they run out, you need to show up earlier the next day.

The most coveted place to find tamales, however, are the peddlers that set up in parking lots across town. We aren’t going to officially round up these locations because they might not be registered with the health department, but we’ll lead you down the garden path if you’re interested. The Tucson subreddit is full of leads: like this one shared with me by Amber, a #ThisIsTucson member, or many of the threads under this search term. Another key piece of information is that many of the red chile tamales made by hand have olives with pits in them: be careful when biting in.

Another note I’d like to include: while tamales are thought to be a cheap food, and can be found for $1 per, I was advised by Dona Matilde Santa Cruz to be careful about cheap tamales. They are often made with lower-cost maseca (corn flour) rather than freshly-ground masa. Because the quality of the corn is such a central factor in the taste of a tamal, maseca tamales are not always recommended and are often found on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Alicia Ramirez places green corn tamales into a pot for steaming at El Torero Restaurant, 231 E. 26th St.

Restaurants serving tamales

Barista del Barrio

Location: 1002 N. Grande Ave.

Price: Red chile beef and green corn tamales are $3 each and $25 per dozen. Vegan hemp tamales are $4 each and $44 per dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

El Torero

Location: 231 E. 26th St.

Price: Green corn tamales cost $4 each and $38 per dozen. Red chile beef are $3.75 each and $30 per dozen.

Note: El Torero is not accepting pre-orders, though you can pick them up day-of, while supplies last.

For more information, check out their website.

Perfecto’s

Location: 5404 S. 12th Ave.

Price: Red chile and green corn tamales are $27.16 per dozen (including tax), $14.12 for half dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

St. Mary’s Mexican Food

Location: 1030 W. St. Mary’s Road

Price: Green corn tamales are $2.50 each and $16 per dozen. Red chile beef are $2.25 each and $15 per dozen.

For more information, check out their Facebook page.

Tania’s Mexican Food

Location: 2856 W. Drexel Road

Price: $3.79 each, $15 per half dozen, $27 per dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

Del Cielo Tamal

Location: 3073 N. Campbell Ave.

Price: $3.75 each, $14.50 per half dozen, $28 per dozen.

Note: Del Cielo is known for its vegan options.

For more information, check out their website.

Little Mexico

Locations: 698 W. Irvington Road 

Price: $3.95 each

For more information, check out their website.

Los Jarritos

Location: 4832 S. 12th Ave.

Price: Red chile tamales are $21.99 per dozen, $11.99 per half dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

Mi Nidito

Location: 1813 S. Fourth Ave.

Price: Two for $9.75

For more information, check out their website.

Salsa Verde

Locations: 210 N. Pantano Road and 3894 N. Oracle Road

Price: red or green chile pork and green corn tamales all cost $32/dozen or $20/half-dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

Si Charro! Restaurants

Locations: Barrio Charro, 3699 N. Campbell Ave. | Charro Steak & Del Rey, 188 E. Broadway | CharroVida, 7109 N. Oracle Road | El Charro, 311 N. Court Ave., 7725 N. Oracle Road, 6910 E. Sunrise Dr. | The Monica, 40 E. Congress St. | Tamale of the Month, online

Price: varies by location. Tamale of the Month delivery starts at $54.95 per dozen per month.

For more information, check out their website.

Tucson Tamale Company

Locations: 7286 N. Oracle Road and 7159 E. Tanque Verde Road

Price: Varies by filling

For more information, check out their website.

Pick up red chile beef and green corn tamales at Beef Master Meat Market.

Carnicerias offering tamales

Beef Master Meat Market

Location: 527 W. 29th St.

Price: Red chile beef costs $2.49 each, $4.98 for two, $11.99 per half dozen and $23.98 per dozen. Green corn costs $2.99 each, $5.98 for two, $12.99 per half dozen and $25.98 per dozen.

For more information, check out their website.

Carniceria El Aguajito

Location: 2800 E. Fort Lowell Road

Price: Red chile and green corn cost $23.98 per dozen, $11.99 per half dozen.

For more information, check out their Google Maps site.

Carniceria El Herradero

Location: 1305 W. St. Mary’s Road

Price: $2 each, $24 per dozen

For more information, check out their Google Maps site.

Supercarniceria Del Valle

Location: 2611 W. Drexel Road

Price: $10.99 per half dozen, $19 per dozen

For more information, check out their Google Maps site.

Pop-up food vendors

Nopalinda

To order these vegan tamales, reach out on Instagram.

Price: $20 per half dozen, $40 per dozen

For more information, check out their Instagram.

Dolce Pastello

Location: 120 S. Avenida del Convento

Price: $14.50 per half dozen of green corn, chicken salsa verde, chicken mole, and red chile pork

For more information, check out their website.


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