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The Craving: Tempting Tamales

Christmas is the traditional time for this Mexican dish, but these Culver City eateries serve it all year long.

I remember holidays spent in Central California fondly in part thanks to the Mexican food staple that came around most during Christmas: tamales. In the spirit of giving, five places in Culver City are serving up tamales year-round, so you have no excuse to miss them.

1) Tito's Tacos

Why pick between two types of tamales if I don't have to? When I chose a beef and chicken tamale, they both came generously topped with a bright red sauce. They were slightly spicy, chewy and everything a tamale should be—one thumb up for each.

Price for a tempting tamale: $2.80 for each tamale.

Tito's Tacos, 11222 Washington Place; 310-391-5780

2)  Cinco De Mayo

It was the attention to detail that made the chicken tamale stick out at Cinco De Mayo. Topped with cheese and red sauce, its spicy kick seemed to come from a hint of yellow pepper and lime that flavored the tamales. As if that weren't enough food, it came with tasty beans, rice, a salad and even chips and mild salsa. Now that's a tamale meal.

Price for a tempting tamale: $6 as a combo plate.

Cinco De Mayo, 11204 Washington Place; 310-391-5354

3) Tacomiendo

Paging all aspiring and part-time vegetarians (myself included): Tacomiendo has tasty tamales vegetarianos. The perfectly cooked tamale was so moist without being mushy–a perfect combination. With the variety of roasted veggies like sweet corn and bell pepper, I didn't even miss the meat.

Price for a tempting tamale: $2.95

Tacomiendo, 4502 Inglewood Blvd.; 310-915-0426

4) Kay n' Dave's Cantina

Send me some sour cream and I'm a happy camper. The Chicken Serano Tamale jumped off of the menu and onto my order. It came wrapped in a banana leaf and was bursting with chicken, and though it tasted similar to many chicken tamales I have had, it was slightly spicy with a hint sweetness. Therefore, it still made my list. 

Price for a tempting tamale: $3.95

Kay n' Daves Cantina, 9341 Culver Blvd.; 310-558-8100

5) Don Chow Tacos

Don Chow Tacos is a portable taco truck with a well-established reputation. A friend from Fresno told me about this truck, which is known by his entire Southern California family for its tasty Chimales. Chimales, he told me, are filled with Chinese Kung Pao chicken or Chinese barbecue pork and wrapped Mexican style like tamales. When it came to Culver City recently, I knew that I had to catch it.

One bite into this Asian and Mexican food combo, and I was hooked. See when the taco truck is coming to town next.

Price for a tempting tamale: $3.25

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