Tamales

An olla filled with red chile tamales. At a tamalada, tamal-making gathering, there can be multiple pots used over and over again to steam the tamales.

Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star

Homemade tamales are the best. But unless you're willing to spend an entire day boiling chiles and spreading fresh masa into corn husks, they're a little hard to come by. Luckily, we live in Tucson, and there are tons of people willing to make those homemade tamales for us! 

Here are options for holiday pickup. We have a couple restaurants on the list, and several vendors from the Tamal and Heritage Festival that sell the Christmas tradition out of their homes. Bring tamales to your party, and people will love you.

Sandra's 

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The red beef tamal from Sandra's, pictured during last year's Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival. 

Sandra's actually prepares Salvadorean tamales, which feature chicken wrapped in banana leaves rather than a corn husk. The vendor also does vegan tamales with kale and three types of squash. Sandra's starts selling toward the end of November. To order, call 949-459-3200 or email celinagonz66@gmail.com

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Green corn and red beef tamales from El Campireño during the 2017 Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino del Sol. 

This booth had long lines at this year's Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino del Sol. Maria Zigueras prepares sweet corn tamales, pineapple, spinach and chicken, chipotle chicken, red beef, vegetarian blue corn and more. Call 520-312-7520 for pricing and pickup/delivery information.  

Perfecto's

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Red beef and green corn tamales from Perfecto's, pictured during the 2017 Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino del Sol. 

Perfecto's Mexican Restaurant at 5404 S. 12th Ave. has received multiple awards at the Tamal and Heritage Festival. The southside restaurant is selling green corn and beef tamales for $17.99 a dozen. Orders must be placed a week and a half in advance. The restaurant is open Christmas Eve for pickup from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 520-889-5651 to place an order. 

Lerua's Fine Mexican Foods

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Alicia Ramirez, left, and Josephina Espinoza de Luna make tamales at Lerua’s Fine Mexican Foods. 

This family-owned restaurant at 2005 E. Broadway has been catering Mexican food since 1922. This year they're selling green corn, chicken, sweet bean, pumpkin, and red beef tamales with optional add-ons like olives and raisins. (Prices vary.) The store is going to start taking Christmas pre-orders in the next couple weeks. Call by Dec. 19 for pickup. Call 520-624-0322

Tumerico 

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Tumerico tamales are made with organic ingredients and non-GMO corn. 

This healthful Mexican restaurant Tumerico at 2526 E. Sixth St. has become a local foodie favorite. Owner Wendy Garcia makes her tamales with non-GMO corn and strays away from the lard. This year she's doing tamales with vegan butternut squash, vegan green corn and green chile cheese. (Prices vary.) To order, call 520-270-2055. Tumerico is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for pickup on Christmas Eve. 

Tucson Tamale Company

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The chile relleno tamale with fresh red roasted pepper masa from Tucson Tamale Company.

Tucson Tamale is your best bet for vegan and gluten-free options without any GMOs. With three locations and Christmas Eve pickup until 3 p.m., it's a reliable spot to get your green corn, green chile pork, red chile beef, chicken, etc. It's recommended you call a day ahead for hot tamales by the dozen: 

You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.