Tamales Will Make the Perfect Cinco de Mayo Lunch

For those of you who are planning to forgo the $5 One Year Anniversary Go Go Curry deal going on today in favor of a lunch that celebrates Mexico’s defeat of the French at Puebla, I decided to put together a list of places to get tamales in Midtown. I know that tamales are not exclusively Mexican (especially alot of the ones you get in Midtown), but it’s Cinco de Mayo, and since this is a blog, I’m contractually obligated to do stupid theme posts on all holidays! (Don’t you know how it works?) Luckily tamales seem to popping up alot these days… plus, who doesn’t love tamales? There shouldn’t be alot of complaints about this one…

The list, and Midtown Tamale Map, after the jump…

1. The Tamale Lady @ the Mexican Embassy (39th btw. Mad+Lex) – This should be your first choice for tamales, not just because it’s Cinco de Mayo, and these can be found outside the Mexican Embassy… but just because they’re the most fun. You’d think that there was a chance she wouldn’t be here today, but she assured me last week, if the Embassy is open, she is there. And ladies and gentleman, today- the Embassy is open. At $1.25 per tamale (chicken, pork or cheese), it’s a deal that can’t be beat.

2. El Sabroso (37th btw. 7+8th) – This Latin/Peruvian counter hidden in a freight elevator hallway received a 9/10 from the Guardian UK. They also serve chicken tamales for $2 a piece.

3. Cafe O (41st btw. Lex+3rd) – I won’t usually step foot into generic Midtown delis, but how could I resist with a sign like the one above? They have different kinds depending on the day, but today it is just chicken. $2.25 each.

4. Margon (46th btw. 6+7th) – This Cuban lunch counter is actually run by Dominicans, so they have their version of “tamales” (seen on the left of the photo above). Called pasteles the “dough” is made with plantains instead of corn, and their version is stuffed with shredded chicken.

5. (Out of Bounds) Leon Bakery (9th Ave. btw. 47+48th) – I had to include this out of bounds bakery which serves $1.25 cheese, chicken, and spicy chicken tamales. Head all the way to the back where they are kept in front of the register in a giant metal steamer. Once again, you can’t really go wrong for $1.25, plus you’re steps away from a whole fridge full of amazing desserts (i’d go for one of the bread puddings for $1.75).

6. (R.I.P.) Le Croissant Cafe – This French “bakery” that also served Mexican food would have been the perfect Cinco de Mayo recommendation (a truce of sorts between the two countries that fought on May 5th), but they shuttered last week. A moment of silence please…

There are some pretty big holes in my tamales map. Got a recommendation that I missed? Feel free to post it in the comments (and I’ll add it)…

View Larger Map

Related: Best Tacos in Midtown (5/4/07)


  • I went today and in my broken-ass spanish she said she only had meat and chicken, nothing with “just” cheese. Maybe i didnt get through to her.. who knows. I’ll have to find me a spanish speaker to help out next time.

  • Just visited the Tamale Lady in front to the Embassy and her tamales were okay. The pork were by far the best. Meaty, slightly spicy. The cheese were mostly corn meal and a strange red collor rubbery little rectangle. Nice pepper in the cheese. The chicken were a bit dull but I liked the green verde sauce inside.
    Size: 4 star out of 5 stars
    Pork: 4 star
    Chicken: 2 star
    Cheese: 1 star
    Husks, nicely cut.
    Texture: 3 star, warm and not dried out.

    Over The Tamale Lady was pleasant to do business with and when you need a tamale fix they are definitely a good stop.
    Was a pleasant and nice cultural surprise to find this in front of the Mexican Embassy too.

  • Tamales are good. Chuck you are a wanker.

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