The Tamale Lady in front of the Mexican Embassy

No offense to the sombrero cart on 50th St. btw. 6+7th, but for the most part the Mexican Food in Midtown sucks.  For the best Mexican food in the U.S., the closer you get to the source, like L.A. or Texas, the better the food is going to be.  So it should be no surprise that the best Mexican food in Midtown can be found right in front of the Mexican Embassy, on 39th St. btw. Park + Madison.

 Just like the ballfields in Red Hook, supply follows demand.  Want to serve pupusas from El Salvador?  Go to where the Salvadoreans play futbol on the weekends.  Homemade tamales?  Head to the Mexican Embassy, where a lady sits out front all day long selling tamales and hot drinks (cold in the summertime) to those waiting outside.

A big bag o tamales, and a +/- after the jump…

I speak a little bit of Spanish, so it wasn’t too hard to communicate my order- but luckily the menu is not that extensive.  Tamale.  Drink.  Easy enough.  With my rudimentary Spanish, I determined that there were three tamale choices (Pork, chicken or cheese), and each was $1.25.  With those ridiculously cheap prices, I ordered one of each.

I took my bag of tamales to the curb and dug in.  The pork one was pretty easy identify:

But the other two were a little tougher.  I thought one was just cheese, but both seemed to have chicken, and one of them had cheese and a green pepper that I’m guessing was a poblano chili (but I’m not sure.)  Maybe I’m not so good at speaking Spanish after all.  Of course, I’ll eat anything so I didn’t really care.  All three were delicious, and mildly spicy (for people who like spicy.  For people who don’t, they could be considered “very spicy”)

She also had two drinks for sale.  A hot chocolate, and an “arroz con leche”, a sweet and hot milk drink with rice in it.  Both were $2.50, and perfect for the winter weather. (In the warmer months, she has cold drinks.)

Cheap, authentic Mexican food made for Mexican people.  What more could you want?  And at $1.25 a piece, how can there be any complaints about the tamales- but I’ve still go to do the +/-

The + (What somebody who loves this place would say)

  • I love tamales!
  • Super cheap
  • Authentic Mexican food, made for Mexican people (i.e. not typical Midtown Mexican)
  • I eat everything, so not knowing what’s in each tamale isn’t that big a deal

The – (What somebody who wouldn’t like this place would say)

  • I don’t speak Spanish, so I didn’t know what I was ordering
  • I’m a vegetarian, and am afraid of getting meat in my Tamale
  • I don’t eat pork, and don’t speak Spanish, so how do I know there’s no pork in my tamale?
  • I don’t like spicy food
  • I like Chipotle.

The Tamale Lady outside the Mexican Embassy, 27 E. 39th St. (btw. Mad+Park)


  • went today at 12:15.

    Tamale Lady: “No tamales, no tamales”
    Me: “Okay, what are you selling today?”
    Tamale Lady: “No tamales”

    I guess she ran out and was just selling drinks?? Not sure, so i then grabbed some chicken and lamb over rice at a cart on 41st and Park.

  • previous comment supposed to look like:

    Me: [approach Tamale Lady and take out my wallet]
    Tamale Lady: “No tamales, no tamales”
    Me: “Okay, what are you selling today?”
    Tamale Lady: “No tamales”
    Me: [walk away]

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    Just found a worthwhile Mexican food cart at 40th and Park around the corner. (North West corner) Had a decent carnitas taco, but they also had quesadillas, tortas, sopes, and gorditas. Anyone else try these folks?

  • @deda i stop by 39st and i saw the mexican food cart “el jalapeno” in the corner i guess he moved there, anyway i ordered 3 tacos of carnitas today and to be honest they WEREN’T good!, i wont buy from them ever again.. i decided to walk to madison avenue and there i saw the tamale lady and got myself 3 tamales one of each chicken, pork & cheese & there were so delicious!!

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