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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tamales for a Good Cause

Here's a quick one. I love tamales, but I'm very picky. I like the Mexican variety, but I recently discovered the ones from El Salvador and Guatemala served at Mama's Hot Tamales near McArthur Park that are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks. I decided I like this variety better. The chicken with red sauce one I had wrapped in banana leaves was addictive. The chicken was tender and moist. The red sauce could have been spicier but you could add salsa verde for some kick. The best part besides having a less doughy corn dough than their Mexican counterparts is the olive. What a pleasant surprise as you bite into this delightful gem. The meshed flavors of corn masa, chicken, olives, potatoes topped with a red (and green sauce depending on how you like it) sauce blended perfectly. At $2.75 each, they're also a bargain. So take the red line to McArthur Park station and wash them down with some jamaica like I did.

The restaurant is a training program where apprentices cook and serve these lovelies. Because the wait staff are also trainees, sometimes the service can be spotty but I'm more interested in the food anyway (I mean, who hasn't been to a Chinese or Korean place with amazing food and awful to nonexistent service?). There are chicken, pork, beef and veggie options as well as the usual burritos, enchiladas and other Mexican fare. But why have anything other than its namesake? I liked having the combination tamale with salad option. The house salad included mixed greens with tomatoes, cucumbers and queso fresco, with a very refreshing avocado and cilantro dressing that I'm going to try to replicate from home.

Mama's Hot Tamales
2124 W. 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 487-4300