Robb’s Review: Tamale Time at Doña Tere

Julia Walsh
It’s the time of year when Texans start wondering where their holiday tamales are coming from. This week’s upcoming review of Doña Tere Restaurant brought back memories of tamales past. When I reviewed the original Doña Tere on Bellaire near Dairy Ashford (“Tamale Morning,” Houston Press, November 20, 2003) it was a tiny tamale outlet with a couple of counter seats and a few tables. I raved about the giant Mexican-style tamales (even though they were a dollar a piece) and complained that you had to bring your own coffee.

Doña Tere’s tamales are still great -- and if you get them fresh while the masa is still creamy, they are stupendous. The chicken in mole and pork in green sauce are standouts. Each is about three times as big as a regular Tex-Mex tamale. And the Oaxacaquenos with pork and red chile are even bigger. The regular size tamales have gone up since my first review from a dollar to $1.15 each. And all locations now serve coffee.

Tamales Doña Tere now has three outlets in Houston (not counting the full menu Doña Tere Mexican Restaurant). The original tamale stand at 13238 Bellaire is still open and there’s a new outlet near Hobby Airport at 9335 Gulf Freeway.

But the best place to get tamales is at the main location where the tamales for all the other locations are made. It’s located at 8331 Beechnut beside the Aranda’s Bakery, the best Mexican bakery in town.

The list of tamales hangs on the wall behind the counter at each Doña Tere location. As they run out of each flavor, they take down the corresponding sign. By two or three in the afternoon, the tamales are dried out and there are hardly any flavors left.

Which is why its best to get your tamales early in the morning. For a knock-out breakfast, go to the Doña Tere at 8331 Beechnut and get a couple of hot fresh tamales with coffee. Then for dessert, go next door to Aranda’s Bakery and get a couple of the hot cinnamon-covered Mexican doughnuts called churros.

And don’t forget to get some to take home. – Robb Walsh