Archive for December, 2009

Pepe’s Tamales

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Pepe’s Tamales
1228 McRae Blvd.
El Paso, Texas 79925

Good Food : 4.5/5 Good Service : N/A

December found me in the Texas/ New Mexico area and my thoughts strayed to tamales. With the holiday season coming up, I was hoping that I could snag some tamales to bring home for the holiday noshings ;)

The interesting thing I’ve learned over the past 3 years of tamale sampling is that each place has their local interpretation of what makes a ‘great’ tamale. In San Antonio, the trend was small/quick from hand to mouth, with the pork flavored with red peppers and lard prior to being rolled, then deliciously moist as you slurped them out of the corn husk. The range of flavors available (pork, chicken, beef, bean, cheese, jalapeno and numerous sweet varieties) was frustrating – you couldn’t have them all in one sitting & I was never able to bring samplings of all the different flavors.

In the southeastern corner of New Mexico, I found the cuisine emphasis on a more simpler approach to Mexican food. Dishes were not overly spiced or heavily covered with cheese, and emphasized simple ingredients done well. The stock tamales staples were red (pork), green (chicken), chile/cheese and sweet . The tamales from here were bigger than the ones I had in San Antonio from Delicious Tamales, and meant more as a meal item versus a quick snack. So I came home with some of each packed in my carry-on roller suitcase.

Overall, the hubbie and I were very pleased. The tamales were spiced hotter than the ones from San Antonio, but it was an up-front burn to which you quickly acclimated. Surprisingly, the green/chicken tamales were actually spicier/hotter than the red/pork ones, but both were very well flavored. We even thought the chicken tamale from Pepe’s was a better version, using a better cut of meat for a tastier filling.

The unknown surprise was the sweet tamale. I was never able to bring back sweet tamales while in Texas, as they were never available when I was there. Pepe’s sweet tamales white masa filling is mixed with sugar, raisins, anise and coconut. Shorter and plumper than the savory ones, the sweet tamales were a great dessert finish after a fajita dinner.

Hm, I wonder how many we have left in the freezer? :?: