12/13/2012 05:22:00 PM

Where to Get Your Holiday Tamales Around LA

Tamales on the Christmas table are a must. Thing is: anyone will tell you the best are homemade, but not everyone knows how to make them. That's why we order them from restaurants around town. Discussing who has "the best" can lead to a heated debate since there are so many different styles, fillings and regional flavors (and they don't always have to Mexican). Here are a few options for holiday tamales, whether for Christmas or just...because they're delicious. Want to learn how to make them yourself? We've got you covered there, too.

Chichen Itza
Chef Gilberto Cetina will show you how to make Yucatan-style tamales at a class this Friday (Dec. 14). A four-course dinner will be served after. Check with him about ordering tamales by the tray. $70 per person (3655 S. Grand Ave.; 213-741-1075).

Get a tray of the amazing chicken tamales with rich, black mole ($35.75). Should feed eight to 10 people. When you pick them up, make sure to stop at the mezcal bar for a little pick-me-up (3014 W. Olympic Blvd.; 213-427-0608).

Loteria Grill
Order Jimmy Shaw's holiday tamales by the dozen and pick up at any of the five locations. Flavors include chicken in mole poblano; poblano chiles with panela cheese and tomatillo salsa; carnitas in salsa morita; calabacitas; and pineapple. They're around $4-4.75 a piece, or $8-$50 per dozen. At Hollywood, you'll find several on special daily through New Year's.

Ortega 120
The South Bay Mexican spot has short rib, chicken or carnitas with rojo sauce, chicken or carnitas with salsa verde,chicken mole, or jalapeno and cheese tamales now through December 31. Order by the dozen only ($25), an no mixing and matching (1814 S. Pacific Coast Highway; 310-792-4120)

Mama's Hot Tamales
The flavors change regularly at this MacArthur Park stalwart, but you can get any of the Mexican and Central American tamales available for $30 a dozen (2124 W. 7th St.; 213-487-7474).

La Mascota
People have been known to wait for hours to get their tamales, made from scratch daily, at this Boyle Heights bakery. The masa is fluffy and moist, with cheese, beef, pork, chicken or pineapple fillings. For $18 a dozen, you can't beat it (2715 Whittier Blvd.; 323-263-5513).

Sandra's and Lolita's
Another Boyle Heights institution that's been feeding hungry hordes tamales since the late 50's. You have to get here early to get pork, beef, chicken or several sweet tamales - they sell out fast. There are also sweet corn tamales on the weekends (5390 Whittier Blvd.; 323-722-2961).

La Indiana Tamales
This family outfit has been serving pork, red chile and beef, green chile and cheese, and chicken and vegetable tamales for more than 25 years. The deadline for Christmas orders is December 19. A dozen costs less than $20 (1142 S. Indiana St.; 323-262-4682).

Tamales Liliana's Get a wide variety of traditional tamales - pork with red or green salsa, rajas and cheese, chicken with vegetables, pineapple and raisin, or strawberry - and plan to line up early for them. Call to see if you can order ahead of time (3448 E. 1st St.; 323-780-0839).


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