Those of us who’ve grown up in Los Angeles—and even those of us who have not—know that the holidays are a time for tamale making, tasting and sharing.
Columnist Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times certainly does. He’s been doing battle with readers all week, narrowing down the best tamales in town.
Some have singled out Echo Park's L on Glendale Boulevard.
Hats off to La Espiga for bringing honor to our 'hood.
Another Option for Echo Park Tamales
But, we want to offer as another possibility.
Alberto Mejia has been making and selling tamales in Echo Park for 40 years.
At first the Mexican immigrant cooked them at home and sold them out of a cart on the street.
Then Echo Park’s Celaya Bakery asked Alberto to cook them there.
Alberto’s son Francisco Javier often helped his father. He soon realized what a good thing his father had going--and how good his tamales were.
Soon after Javier married his wife Tina Marie, he opened a shop on Sunset Boulevard near Elysian Park Avenue.
He named it “Tamales Alberto” after his dad and the recipes they carried on.
Foot traffic at the original location was slow and, according to Tina Marie, the shop moved to its current location at 1644 Temple St. about a dozen years ago.
They've never looked back.
Flavors include chicken, pork and cheese and jalapeno. The average cost is $15-$16 dozen.
The shop also serves menudo, pozole and other Mexican dishes.
Alberto Is Still Involved
Alberto is there every day.
Sometimes he's at the counter, in front of the Tamales Alberto logo he first designed on a napkin.
Or he's busy in the kitchen, ensuring that the quality of his original recipes stays the same.
“He’s very meticulous,” says Tina Marie. “Without him, there just wouldn’t be a business. He watches over people’s shoulders and sees that the quality stays high.”
Tina Marie runs her own branch of the business, called “The Tamale Queen.
She delivers bulk orders of tamales from her cart, a bit like her father-in-law did long ago. But this time clients include film and television shows.
Tamales Alberto will be open through the holiday season,taking just a break on Christmas Day.
The Tamale Queen will be making deliveries too.
So there's no reason not to enjoy this holiday tradition all the way through the New Year.
The Tamale Queen also offers an incentive program:
For every 5th person you refer, who purchases AT LEAST ONE DOZEN, you will receive one dozen for FREE!