The Best Tamales in Chicago

The Best Tamales in Chicago

Photo of Thrillist Chicago

There's nothing more clutch than the tamale guy popping into the bar you're at, at the exact moment you're thinking about food (so... anytime). Thing is, there are actually a lot of other great places (not in dive bars) to get tamales in Chicago.

8 Places
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    When I want something a little bit sweeter, I opt for their corn tamale, which is made with masa and elotes -- the popular corn-off-the cob treat sold on a bunch of city corners.
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    The lady behind this tamaleria is a long-time Chicago tamalera (just go with it) who, after earning enough money selling her specialty on the streets, moved into this corner store brick-and-mortar on Kedzie in Albany Park.
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    When I first tried this place over a decade ago, it was the red pork tamales that brought me in -- and to this day, I still get cravings for them. Take a dozen to-go and share a few, because that’s what your Grandma would tell you to do.
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    A must-get snack when visiting the market on Sundays is the Oaxacan tamales -- this is your best bet for a quick bite, as there's never a long wait.
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    The all-female team in the kitchen makes a mean red and green sauce with shredded chicken, and it's a must to get a side of their homemade mole sauce to dip them in.
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    This place has flown under-the-radar for a while now, but I've seen them picking up ever since they got their liquor license... since I can now enjoy a fresh margarita outside on the sidewalk while filling up on their top-notch tacos.
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    Luckily, you can always count on Manolo's to do exactly that. Most folks stopping in buy them by the dozen (in particular, the pork with roja sauce), and a batch is pretty much always ready at one of their two South Side locations.
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    Choose from the traditional varieties or their own mashed up concoctions, which include Charlie Brown's favorite: the Juicy Lucy made with ground beef and melted cheese.
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