Stop Asking Me: Vegetarian & Vegan Tamales


This column is where Dine Editor Lesley Bargar Suter usually shares her restaurant recommendations that she gives to inquiring friends and/or coworkers. But today, I’m hijacking it, and making it my own. I too get hit up for advice on where to dine out from time to time, and despite the title of this post, I’m always truly happy to help.

Who are you?: Alex F., Sherman Oaks  

What do you want?: “I saw [Bill Esparza’s] post on where to order traditional tamales for the holidays, but wanted to see if you knew of a restaurant or food cart with awesome vegetarian- and vegan-friendly tamales.”

My reply: Tamara’s Tamales in Culver City. It’s been a favorite of mine since I worked around the corner at a few years ago. The menu at Tamara’s has no shortage of carne, to be sure, but there’s always a handful of vegan and vegetarian tamales available that NEVER fail to please. One of my favorites is the veggie special—pictured above—filled with potato, carrot, zucchini, parsnip, bell peppers, cilantro, green chile, green beans, and shiitake mushrooms. Parsnips in a tamale? Yes indeed. Bill Esparza may or may not be appalled at the thought of it, but let me tell you: it’s divine.

There’s something about the tortilla chips here, too. They’re long strips rather than the usual triangle that you normally find. It’s not just the shape though, they’ve got a certain je n’ sais quoi that I dig. I’m not entirely sure what it is that makes them so special, but give me a small basket of ’em and a big bowl of the homemade salsa verde and I’ll be one happy camper.

Tamara’s Tamales, 13352 Washington Blvd., Culver City,