Five Great OC Places to Buy Tamales for Christmas
|Not a local brand, but who could possibly have a problem with a rockin' tamale?|
*Sarinana's Tamale Factory: Orange County's oldest Mexican restaurant, with an emphasis on what its name says. The perfect pork tamale: stringy, firm masa, slightly red, a bit spicy. 2218 W. Fifth St., Santa Ana, (714) 558-8650.
*El Fortín: Sellers of the King of the Tamale Kingdom: the mole negro tamal, a brick of soft masa wrapped in a banana leaf and made with chocolate. Not the sweet you'd imagine, but a sweetness for the ages, a bittersweet paste that will stain your fingertips so deeply even a thousand licks won't make it go away--and you don't want that, anyway. 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290; also at 10444 Dale Ave., Stanton, (714) 252-9120; www.restaurantelfortin.com
*La Poblana Bakery: All of their traditional tamales sell (and taste) well, but I come here for the strawberry variety. Mexis, when we make dessert tamales, usually stick to versions studded with pineapple or raisins; La Poblana delves into tartness, selling pink beauties that go well in the morning with a cup of scalding champurrado. 604 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 771-4465.
*El Molino de Oro: This San Juan bakery is almost as big an institution as the Mission. Because chickens deserve love as well, order them--extra green salsa, por favor. 31886 Plaza Dr., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 489-9230.