Few things are more satisfying than street-quality, out-of-a-repurposed-shopping-cart tamales.
Along the major arteries of York Blvd., Figueroa and Alvarado, you can find ladies offering soul-stirring goodness unmatched by any 5-star eatery. What is it about masa, savory spiced pork or chicken and a dollop of lard that’s so satisfying? Could it be the obscenely nominal $1 price tag? Or, perhaps it’s the knowing that each tamale was held, filled and tucked with love.
Tamales are time-consuming to prepare. I know, because A) it’s usually reserved for Christmas as a task undertaken by an army of female relatives and B) I took a tamale making class last year and vowed to never attempt making my own again.
Which begs the question–where to go? For the banana-leaf South American varietal, there’s none better than Atlacatl (mighty fine pupusas too). For Mexican, not-out-of-a-shopping-cart, I head to Lupita’s on San Fernando. Family-owned and operated, Lupita’s sits in a gritty-ish strip mall in the shadow of the 2FWY.
Sometimes, while driving up or down the 2, I swear I can smell that unmistakable deliciousness in the air. The first 3 times I tried Lupita’s, they were sold out of the red pork tamales…by 1PM. Not one to give up, we finally made it for breakfast, ordered 2 and discovered what all the fuss was about. Moist pork, infused with a chile kaleidoscope on a bed of decadent, pork-flavored masa danced in my mouth.
While you pay a $0.25 premium to sit at a table, you also get to try homemade champurrado (masa-based chocolate toddy) and the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing to a family’s American dream.
Lupita’s Tamales, 3027 N. San Fernando Rd., Ste. 104, Los Angeles, 90065