The tamal is the cornerstone of San Antonio’s fall menu, a beloved side dish that takes center stage this time of year. And while everyone has their favorite, we thought it’d be fun to highlight some of the more unusual variations of this time-honored recipe. Here are our top four delectably unusual tamal picks for your holiday consumption.
Cocina Heritage’s Cochinita Pibil Tamal
Cocina Heritage’s commitment to ancient Mayan recipes yields an outstanding cochinita pibil tamal that rises above. The spicy cochinita pibil pork filling, itself a signature, stand-alone dish of Cocina Heritage’s, is made from scratch, along with their accompanying achiote paste, and is slow-roasted for hours with pork before being fastidiously rolled into masa-covered banana leaves – no corn husks will do here – which provides an unreal, mouthwateringly earthy flavor. Also not to be missed: their vegan tamal in banana leaves. Order by the dozen. (210) 560-3454, cocinaheritage.com.
Viva Vegeria’s Three Sisters Vegan Tamal
Wrapped in the more traditional corn husk and filled to the brim with corn, squash, beans and vegan pepper jack cheese, the Three Sisters vegan tamal makes for a spicy and pungent result. Get your fill every Tuesday, officially “Vegan Tamal Day” at their south side restaurant, served with a delicious chipotle sauce, rice and beans. Or order by the dozen. They’ll have them waiting for you just in time for the holidays. 1422 Nogalitos St., (210) 465-9233, myvegeria.com.
La Hacienda Products’ Sweet Tamal
La Hacienda Products produces a tamal with subtle, yet effective flavors. Their delicate sweet tamal effuses a perfect hint of brown sugar and features raisins and pecans, making for an unexpected and fun dessert twist. Serve à la mode for additional yumminess. A staple at The Pearl’s farmer’s market, La Hacienda Products’ Blanco Road location is a verifiable tamal shop. Order by the dozen for your holiday festivities. 6421 Blanco Road, (210) 377-0808, lahaciendaproducts.com.
Pharm Table’s Quinoa Tamal Bowl
The name of the game for Pharm Table’s signature quinoa tamal bowl, aside from its bouquet of flavors, is presentation. A feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds, house-made salsa, kimchi salad and pickled seasonal vegetables (ours were carrots – surprisingly good) join the tamal, decorated with a colorful palate of kale dip spread, lentil purée, mung bean sprouts and beets. Add their protein of the day as a side. 106 Auditorium Circle, (210) 802-1860, pharmtable.com.