Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, and what better way is there to celebrate than stuffing your face full of tamales? For Isaac’s birthday on Monday we met up with his parents and brother in Grapevine at Tommy Tamale. Isaac loves tamales (really anything Tex-Mex), and after looking at some reviews on Yelp, we knew this would be the perfect place for his birthday dinner. Over the years, Isaac and I have had our fair share of tamales… It’s just a part of living in Texas! We’ve bought them at the grocery store, from people we know, at restaurants and even a gas station one time. But out of all the ones I’ve had before, I have to say these were some of my favorite.
If you aren’t familiar with tamales, they are made with a corn masa and stuffed with different types of meats (the most common fillings are pork and chicken). The masa and meat are wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed until firm.
The tamales from Tommy Tamale were delicious. The masa was moist and flavorful and they had five different savory fillings to choose from (chicken, pork, habanero pork, beef and black bean). We tried all five and decided that the beef and pork were our favorites. The refried beans were also some of the best I’ve ever had. You could tell they were freshly made, and the seasoning was just right. The Mexican rice was not too spicy, and well cooked. The salsa was spicy (too spicy for me and just right for Isaac), but I liked the chips and the queso was pretty good.
At Tommy Tamale they also serve other foods. Isaac’s mom got some chicken quesadillas that looked amazing, and his dad ordered the Tamale Pie, which is a bowl full of fritos, chili, queso and topped with tamales. Isaac said that’s what he’s getting next time we visit! They also serve burritos, nachos, and their specialty- the Tommy Bowl (two tamales on top of rice, queso, chili, queso and pico de gallo). There’s so much to choose from, and it all sounds (and looks) amazing!
For dessert we ordered the chocolate tamales, which tasted like a brownie made with corn meal instead of flour. I loved it (I mean come on… it was chocolate!), and my favorite part was the delicious homemade strawberry jam they served with it.
They also sell frozen tamales at Tommy Tamale! There are more flavors to choose from if you buy frozen, including bbq, tenderloin, sausage/potato and spinach and feta. They also have some more sweet tamales you can buy… the one I really want to try is the apple and cinnamon (and the seasonal pumpkin one sounds right up my white-girl alley!).
Can you tell we loved the food there?
Location and Experience
Before arriving, I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard from some co-workers that the restaurant was always crowded, but we lucked out and came on their slowest night of the week! The restaurant had huge windows and wooden tables set up around the eating area. My favorite part of the place was the area strung with Christmas lights… I’m a sucker for those things. The restaurant was just a little off Hwy 114 in Grapevine, and just a couple of minutes from my school! I may have to swing by sometime on my way home to pick up tamales for dinner.
I also loved that there was a ton of salsas, jams, seasoning packets and so much more for sale there. They were a little pricy (about $7-8 a jar), but I think it’d be fun to try some of their canned goods out .
The staff was very friendly and helped us out since we were obviously new to the place. We were greeted at the door by the owner, and chatted with him a little before heading to the counter to order. I loved that the restaurant was clean and had a fun little vibe to it.
We loved Tommy Tamale! The food was fresh and flavorful, and we left much fuller than we came in. I enjoyed the time we spent at the restaurant and that it felt so open and inviting in there. They serve some of the best gourmet tamales around, and I can’t wait to go there again.
Bonus: If you follow them on Facebook, they share daily specials you don’t want to miss out on (like tamale pizza and 99c tamales)!
What are the best tamales you’ve ever had?