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Forget the dollar menu at Taco Bell, the tamale torta at Doña Tere on Bissonnet is a full meal for $1.79. I got the chile beef tamale and doused the bolillo with salsa to lubricate the rather dry-looking combo of starch on starch. It tasted better than it looked. But next time, I think I'll add lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and mayo. The chicken tamale with green sauce wouldn't be bad as a filling either.
Doña Tere is a good place to know about for your holiday tamale buying needs. $1.29 per tamal is pretty pricey, but the tamales are ginormous. Last year I got sentimental about the disappearance of the tamale ladies that used to wander the streets selling them for five bucks a dozen. Then I got ripped off by one of those ladies, who sold me a bunch of tamales with nothing in the shuck but masa.
I then experimented with buying tamales from the internet equivalent of a street vendor --Craigslist. I found some cheap tamales online, and the seller even delivered them to my door. But unfortunately, a lot of the tamales were undercooked. I am going to try some new Craigslist tamale vendors this year. And your tamale shopping tips are also welcome.