Colorado sports a varied food scene, a melting pot of cultural dishes and cuisines that can satisfy what any craving visitors and locals are hungering for – tamales included. Colorado is home to some of the best Mexican food in the entire country and some special local products. Whether you’re looking for excellent burritos, tacos, or tamales, Colorado offers some of the best. Never had a tamale or don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, below we’ve listed our favorite spots to get some of Colorado’s best tamales!
What is a Tamale?
Tamales are as rich in their history and culture as they are in flavor. Dating back several centuries ago to ancient Aztec civilizations, Tamales are a timeless dish that consists of corn dough called masa and various fillings like seasoned chicken or pork, wrapped in a corn husk and typically steamed, then served without the husk. In Latin culture, tamales represent community, family, and a way of life. In many traditional Latino gatherings, tamales will likely have a seat at the table, if not being a centerpiece.
What is Masa?
Masa is a corn-based dough commonly used for making:
And of course, tamales!
It has origins in modern-day Mexico and Latin America and has been used in the dishes of these cultures for centuries.
What Fillings are Inside Tamales?
Tamales can come with a wide variety of fillings inside their masa dough. Typically, tamales are filled with marinated pork or chicken but are also known to come with a wide variety of fillings such as:
Or even fruits!
It all depends on personal tastes or regional traditions.
How Do You Steam Tamales?
Tamales are usually wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks which have been soaked in water. The wrapper isn’t meant to be eaten, however, it does add flavor to the tamales. Tamales are usually steamed vertically within a large pot containing a steaming basket.
Tamales have been adopted by those who have lived in the Southwest long enough to absorb culinary customs that have been part of the region since before Colorado became a territory.
The Best Colorado Tamales
These restaurants are listed in no particular order and we recommend you take a tamale tour to truly experience the best Colorado offers. With many recipes that are decades old, the tradition of making tamales is alive and well in the state. Check these tasty spots off of your Colorado Tamale Tour and let us know your favorites!
In Colorado Springs, Salsa Latina is a quaint, local favorite Mexican food stop with a packed menu of traditional dishes. Salsa Latina boasts authentic family recipes, with tamales choices that are both cheap and tasty enough to keep customers satisfied and coming back for more, year after year. In 2015, it was even voted Best of the Springs – need we say more?
Las 4 Americas
The family-owned and operated Las 4 Americas is known in its community as one bakery you don’t want to miss, providing customers with Mexican bakery items such as cakes, empanadas, and more! This one-stop shop for all things Mexican pumps out thousands of tortillas a day, all made from scratch with the freshest dough – the kind of fresh that people go out of their way to taste daily! Their tamales are no different, offering plates with “a difference that people can taste” in their homemade cooking.
The Tamale Kitchen
“Colorado’s Original Tamale Kitchen since 1981,” Tamale Kitchen is proud to serve up a recipe approved and produced by the generations in their tamale shop sited at eight different locations in the Denver Metro area. You can pick from red, spicy green chile or veggie tamales, filled with secret recipe seasoned meat, wrapped in corn masa, then finally steamed to “delicious mouth-watering perfection.” Tamale Kitchens’ customer base has been loyal since the 80’s – and for a good reason; their menu. Best of all, if you stop by on a Tuesday, which is always Tamale Tuesday, you can treat yourself to a feast of various tamales, all for 99 cents!
Also known as “healthy tamales for the 21st century,” Boulder Tamales creates “premium Mexican tamales that are low in saturated fat, nutritious, easy to eat, and good for the planet.” Boulder Tamales makes their tamales in-house with the freshest ingredients and offers catering to events in the Boulder and Front Range area, as well as pick up or delivery for customers! Customers rave about the customizable and varied selection of tamales; all made to order. These organic and locally sourced tamales are even in your local Whole Foods markets to try at home!
If you happen to find yourself near Fairplay, Colorado with a craving for homemade tamales – Dorothy’s is the easy choice for your dining experience. With a tamale recipe over a hundred years old, these tamales are cooked to perfection every time. Pick from 8 different flavors, and let Dorothy do the rest. Dorothy’s Tamales is consistently considered one of Colorado’s best tamales.
Pochitos Tortilla Factory
In the mile-high city of Denver, CO, there is one tamale spot that will make any meal memorable: Pochitos, a Denver food scene staple. Located in the Northern Highlands area, you can order a selection of different dishes that will have you coming back again and again to get your fix. These tamales are as big in flavor as they are in portions, all for a reasonable price. This hidden Denver gem is a must-visit for tamale lovers.
Tamales by La Casita
Many locals around Denver have a consensus opinion. Tamales by La Casita sells some of the tastiest tamales around the entire state. This family-owned business has been serving locals authentic tamales since 1974. Their expertise is obvious whether you choose a red or green tamale, but make sure to arrive early; these tamales are known to sell out quickly. Even if you’re heading out of Denver International Airport, stop by their convenient location and grab a tamale or two before your flight!
Los Tamales is a beloved local eatery in Commerce City, CO, and is home to some amazing tamales. Here at Los Tamales, you’ll find exactly what you’d expect: the best tamales in Denver. Available on their own for $1.99 or $9.99 for a half dozen, Los Tamales is guaranteed to satisfy your tamale cravings.
La Casita Mexican Grill
Not to be confused with Tamales by La Casita, La Casita Mexican Grill offers Colorado Springs best tamales. Offering traditional pork or chicken tamales, La Casita Mexican Grill’s tamales are some of the tastiest south of Denver.
Garlic & Onions Mexican Grill
Looking for the best tamales in Pueblo, Colorado? Locals and tourists alike agree that Garlic & Onions Mexican Grill is one of the tastiest Mexican restaurants in town, and their tamales are excellent. Offering pork, chicken, or cheese, Garlic & Onions is sure to satisfy any tamale enthusiast.
Located in Aurora, CO, El Tamarelo is one of Colorado’s premier tamale restaurants. Known for a variety of different authentic tamales, El Tamarelo is sure to please. El Tamarelo only uses the freshest ingredients and best of all, their tamales are $1.50 a piece.
Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant
Santiago’s is a staple in Colorado. With over 25 convenient locations across the Front Range, Santiago’s has built a reputation for serving some of the best Mexican food in the state. Their tamales are available on their own or smothered in signature green chili. Make it a meal with beans and rice to really get the most out of your experience.
The Best Colorado Has to Offer
Colorado is home to some of the best tamales in the country. The state produces some amazing condiments, perfectly suited to accompany any tamale:
We are lucky to have many fantastic tamale options across Colorado, and the list does not stop with these tasty picks. Did we miss your favorite tamale restaurant? Let us know what Colorado’s best tamales are. Now, get out there and enjoy the best tamales the state of Colorado has to offer!