Tucson's already-flourishing Mexican food scene just got a little bigger, thanks to Tucson Tamale Company. The popular midtown eatery just expanded to a second location at 7159 E. Tanque Verde Road in northeast Tucson. Owners Todd and Sherry Martin are already scouting out a third location in Oro Valley, as well.
Tucson Tamale Company quickly gained a local following after opening its doors back in 2008. The restaurant's gourmet take on the classic Mexican staple earned it rave reviews from local publications and foodie bloggers across the country.
So, why all the fuss over tamales? Tamale-lovers have long had to suffer through bland, frozen varieties at restaurants and grocer freezer aisles. But Tucson Tamale Company shook up the local food scene with its emphasis on fresh preparation, quality ingredients and creative flavor pairings. These tamales are anything but boring.
Tucson Tamale Company just opened its second location in north Tucson — Photo courtesy of Jackie Alpers Photography / Tucson Tamale Company
Currently, the restaurant has no less than 35 different kinds of tamales on the menu. That's quite a lot more selection than the typical pork and green chile varieties you'll find on most restaurant menus. You'll find traditional fillings like pork, green corn and a variety of meat and chile pepper mixes. But you'll also find one-of-a-kind varieties, including vegan and vegetarian options.
The Austin is a blue corn masa tamale stuffed with organic spinach, mushroom and spices. There are also unique fusion varieties, like the Little Italy. It's stuffed with Italian sausage, sweet peppers, onion and marinara sauce. Love hot dogs? Take a bite out of the Dogmale, a tamale stuffed with an all-beef hot dog, bacon, onion, tomato, pinto beans, green chile and cheese.
Early birds will appreciate the specialty breakfast menu. The Denver tamale is stuffed with ham, red pepper, onion and cheese. The Sunrise tamale features fresh sausage, potato and cheese in zesty red chile masa.
When you're done with breakfast, lunch or dinner, try one of the dessert tamales. One of the most popular is the Pumpkin tamale, filled with creamy sweet pumpkin and spices. For a romantic spin on the tamale, there's the St. Valentine's, which features melted milk chocolate and sweet red cherries wrapped in a delicate cocoa masa.
The restaurant uses only lard-free, organic corn masa, and every tamale is hand rolled and gently steamed. The tamales are made in small batches to preserve flavor and ensure consistency.
Although tamales are the star of the menu, the restaurant is also known for its tasty sides. You'll find the usual tortilla chips, salsa (Four varieties are made fresh daily.) and guacamole. But you'll also find spiced black or pinto beans, cold basmati rice salad and organic greens.
Can't make it to Tucson? Tucson Tamale Company ships to all 50 states, which means you can have a batch of delicious tamales delivered right to your front door. Orders are packed in a Styrofoam container and frozen to 20 degrees below freezing. You can freeze them for up to six months, or steam them right away and enjoy.