My friends back east have never heard of a tamale, but here they seem to be a staple. Tamales begin with a dough made from masa mixed with lard or vegetable shortening and filled with sweet or savory fillings. Then they are wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves depending on the region they come from. After being wrapped in husks or leaves, they are steamed and cooked. There are hundreds of places in LA to get the tamale goodness. Here are a few:

Loteria Grill
Choose from tamales like Pollo en Mole Pablano, Rajas con Queso Panela y Salsa Verde, Carnitas en Salsa Morita and Calabacitas con Elote (zucchini and roasted corn). They also have sweet tamales like Pina and Dulces de Elote. $4 each, $22 for 6, or $40 for a dozen. Studio City Farmer’s Market, Ventura Pl., Studio City,  91604, Hollywood Farmer’s Market, 1600 Ivar Ave., Los Angeles

Tamara’s Tamales
West of the 405? Head to this spot that is hidden in a mini mall along Washington blvd. Since 1996, they make hundreds of tamales every day, which vary with fillings like beef, chorizo, pork, chicken, seafood, sweet, vegetarian and even vegan. $2.25-5.75 each or $24-65 a dozen. 13352 W Washington Blvd., Los Angeles

La Mascota Bakery
A Los Angeles tradition since 1952, this Boyle Heights bakery has delectable and cheap tamales. They’ve got your basic fillings, pork, beef, chicken, cheese, or sweet. Get their early to avoid the lines. 2715 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, 90023

La Indiana Tamales
Another East LA favorite, they has been making tamales for over 25 years. Tamale fillings include green chili & cheese, red chili & beef, pork, chicken, sweet and elote. They also sell just the ingredients if you want to try making them yourself. $16.50 a dozen. 1142 S Indiana St., Los Angeles, 90023

Tamales Lilianas
Lilianas has two locations, one on Ceaser Chavez (restaurant) and one on E 1st St. (cafe). They’ve got all the usuals, red chili with pork, green chili with cheese, peppers with cheese, chicken, elote, and bright pink sweet tamales. Tamales are $1.50 each or $17 a dozen. 3448 E 1st St., Los Angeles, 90063

Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe
Mama’s Hot Tamales was established as a community project by local leaders and “Mama” Sandi Romero. So here, you’re helping out the local community. Mama’s tamales are made with fresh ingredients like meat, fish, vegetables, cheese, chilies or fruit. The tamales are individually wrapped in corn husks, banana leaves or avocado leaves.. Tamales are $2.50 each or $30 a dozen. 2124 W 7th St., Los Angeles, 90057

Lupita’s Tamales
This Glassell Park spot features traditional tamales including pork, chicken, cheese, sweet and even pineapple. They are cash only, but the cheapest around. $1.25 each or $14 a dozen. 3027 N San Fernando Rd., Ste 104, Los Angeles, 90065

Celaya Bakery
Celaya Bakery in Echo Park is the spot to quickly grab some delicious cheap tamales on your way home. They’ve got the traditional versions, a spicy green chile with chicken, red chile and pork, jalapeño with cheese, and of course, sweet tamales. 1630 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 90026

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