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    Post #1 - August 8th, 2006, 8:54 am
    Post #1 - August 8th, 2006, 8:54 am Post #1 - August 8th, 2006, 8:54 am
    The recent post on 'Tamales Los Mejores' got me to thinking that we need a thread of some of the best tamale street vendors, as I did not see prior thread dedicated to this.

    I've recently become enamored with fruit tamales, something I never even heard of until recently. The guy I get most of them from is stationed on the NW corner of Pulaski and 26th Street. I mostly see him in the afternoons and his cart says "Ricos tamales" on it. He sells strawberry (fresa) tamales almost every day and has pineapple (piña) ones every now and then. They are absolutely fantastic. He also sells chicken (pollo) every day. The only other vendor I've found that sells these strawberry and pineapple tamales is a guy I've seen near Fullerton and Western, usually on the weekends.

    My other favorite tamale vendor is on the SE corner of Division and Ashland, a woman who is usually only out there in the very early mornings (6:00am-9:00ish?). She has the best chicken tamales I've ever had, very nice and spicy! You know her by her Sam Adams umbrella.

    Strawberry & Pineapple Tamales - "Ricos Tamales"
    NW corner of 26th and Pulaski

    Spicy Chicken Tamales - Sam Adams Umbrella
    SW corner of Division and Ashland
  • Post #2 - August 8th, 2006, 10:36 am
    Post #2 - August 8th, 2006, 10:36 am Post #2 - August 8th, 2006, 10:36 am
    There is a woman who sells tamales in the Walgreen's parking lot on Cermak and Wolcott in Pilsen. She sells chicken, pork, cheese, and meat tamales either rojo or verde. Extremely delicious. She also sells fantastic mango (or papaya?) dusted with chili powder. Nothing better on a hot day than that!

    Enjoy.
  • Post #3 - August 8th, 2006, 11:45 am
    Post #3 - August 8th, 2006, 11:45 am Post #3 - August 8th, 2006, 11:45 am
    There are some vans and tents set up on Milwaulkee (just southeast of California) that have been mentioned in previous posts as a good source for Tamales. They are there both Sat and Sun mornings. They have the standard rojo and verde tamales available. This weekend I saw someone eating a bright RED (almost fluorescent) tamale (not your typical rojo) which might have been strawberry/fruit of some sort.
    Also, they have other antojitos (this weekend I had a shredded chicken soft taco, ceviche tostada and a sope with potatoes, crema (guajes-pumpkin seeds optional). The sope was outstanding (the rest was good, too). There is a wide variety of aguas available, too. I chose the cantelope before finding out that my favorite (red tuna) was available at one of the other tents.
  • Post #4 - August 8th, 2006, 11:51 am
    Post #4 - August 8th, 2006, 11:51 am Post #4 - August 8th, 2006, 11:51 am
    If this is the same folks as have been there in the past (palmer sq) - run don't walk and grab some of the sopes
  • Post #5 - August 8th, 2006, 2:08 pm
    Post #5 - August 8th, 2006, 2:08 pm Post #5 - August 8th, 2006, 2:08 pm
    This may be a dumb question, but who makes the tamales sold by these vendors? I have always assumed that some vendors sell their own products, but that many are affiliated in that the tamales come from a central source of some sort.
  • Post #6 - August 8th, 2006, 2:46 pm
    Post #6 - August 8th, 2006, 2:46 pm Post #6 - August 8th, 2006, 2:46 pm
    The better ones are made at home the night before. Sra. Bustamante, eg.
  • Post #7 - August 8th, 2006, 4:36 pm
    Post #7 - August 8th, 2006, 4:36 pm Post #7 - August 8th, 2006, 4:36 pm
    Giallo wrote:This may be a dumb question, but who makes the tamales sold by these vendors? I have always assumed that some vendors sell their own products, but that many are affiliated in that the tamales come from a central source of some sort.
    A friend of mine told me that every morning on his way to work at 6am, he sees tamaleros lined up at a storefront on Armitage(I think) with their igloos. I am sure that Sra. Bustamante has a network of vendors also. I know that some tamaleros are independent, but you are right, many of them are contractors. Tamale vendors have a long history in Chicago. ILTACO, the inventors and purveyors of the pizza-puff* started out as the ILlinois TAmale COmpany in the 1920s, supplying tamales to vendors who sold them to traders in the financial district.


    *The native Chicago food that nobody talks about.
  • Post #8 - August 8th, 2006, 5:11 pm
    Post #8 - August 8th, 2006, 5:11 pm Post #8 - August 8th, 2006, 5:11 pm
    d4v3 wrote:Tamale vendors have a long history in Chicago. ILTACO, the inventors and purveyors of the pizza-puff* started out as the ILlinois TAmale COmpany in the 1920s, supplying tamales to vendors who sold them to traders in the financial district.

    For more on the history of tamales in Chicago, see this fascinating old thread on 19th century tamales and other topics.
  • Post #9 - August 8th, 2006, 6:41 pm
    Post #9 - August 8th, 2006, 6:41 pm Post #9 - August 8th, 2006, 6:41 pm
    Rene G wrote:For more on the history of tamales in Chicago, see this fascinating old thread on 19th century tamales and other topics.
    OMG, now I remember, people did once have meaningful discussions on Chowhound®. I only have 45 minutes in Chicago and I need to know who has the most authentic Chicago hotdogs, Alinea or Moto? :)

    Seriously, I had no idea there has been a Mexican-American community in Chicago for so many years. I recall there was some discussion earlier this year on LTH as to whether the commercial tamales commonly available in Chicago were descendents of Mexican tamales or African-American 'hot' tamales from the Mississippi Delta. It seems the above-referenced thread would point towards a Mexican origin.
    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... ht=tamales
  • Post #10 - August 8th, 2006, 10:23 pm
    Post #10 - August 8th, 2006, 10:23 pm Post #10 - August 8th, 2006, 10:23 pm
    Not necessarily. Those seeing a closer connection between beef stand tamales and Delta tamales as compared to authentic Mexican tamales are/were well aware of the long-standing Mexican presence in Chicago.

    It's safe to say that all Chicago tamales ultimately trace their roots to Mexico; it's just that the not-masa, beef stand tamal is (1) obviously similar to the Delta tamale for a host of reasons well documented here and (2) sold where other Delta-meets-Jewish foods (i.e., hot dog/polish stands) are/were sold.

    Note also that a Delta tamale is the only kind of tamal for which the silent "e" is correct in the singular. It's almost like whisky/whiskey.

    PS, if the long time educated conjecture on CH and here weren't enough, ReneG had previously linked to a site connected with John Edge's excellent work on the subject, which includes oral histories from Delta tamale makers who moved back and forth between the Delta and the South Side.
  • Post #11 - August 9th, 2006, 7:40 am
    Post #11 - August 9th, 2006, 7:40 am Post #11 - August 9th, 2006, 7:40 am
    Giallo wrote:This may be a dumb question, but who makes the tamales sold by these vendors? I have always assumed that some vendors sell their own products, but that many are affiliated in that the tamales come from a central source of some sort.


    My wife is Latino and I've asked some of our Latino friends about this and the answer I get is that the vast majority of tamales are in fact home-made. There are a few vendors out there who make tamales and then have some people sell them for them, but it seems this is in the minority of situations. After you eat enough tamales from different vendors, it's pretty clear that each one has its own unique flavor profile, so it supports the view that the people selling them make them as well.

    As an aside, it's a bit different for cart vendors. Not sure if you've seen carts that sell corn (elotes) and various fruits and drinks. These carts typically do originate from someone who runs a company and rents the carts out to people. Near Piotrowski Park at 31st and Keeler, there's nearly a dozen or so carts that have nearly idential offerings, but the amazing thing is that each one is super busy. My personal favorites are cucumbers with lime and salt (pepino con limón y sal) and my all-time favorite, jicama with lime and chili powder.
  • Post #12 - August 14th, 2006, 2:00 pm
    Post #12 - August 14th, 2006, 2:00 pm Post #12 - August 14th, 2006, 2:00 pm
    JeffB wrote:The better ones are made at home the night before. Sra. Bustamante, eg.


    I can vouch for senora bustamente at least - having gone by the house to pickup a large order I saw the whole family making an amazing number of tamales (it was during the traditional holiday tamale rush)

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