Harlem Tamales

26. December 2006 Mexican, West + East Harlem 5

Corner of 145th Street and Edgecombe Avenue
no phone number
$1 for each tamale

The Dr. texted me at 7am, an ungodly hour, to let me know that the tamales lady was there. It took me another 30 minutes to get out of bed and put on my jeans over my pajamas. I schlepped over to 145th Street, half awake, to finally buy the tamales the Dr. has been curious about since he started his commute to the hospital earlier this year. I was going to be his test case: try the tamales and let him know how they taste so he can buy them on his own. Man, I don’t even wake up at 7:30 to go to work, but I’ve also been curious ever since he told me about the lady in the corner selling tamales from her cooler every morning. I go the other way for my own commute so I never see her, but if I didn’t do it today, I’d certainly won’t do it when it’s the dead of winter.

I crossed the street and held out my hand with the peace sign. Dos. She asked, Verde? With Mexican food, if there is green, there must be red, so I said, Verde y rojo, por favor. She opened her cooler and revealed a whole trove of steaming corn husks, grabbed two tamales and wrapped them in aluminum foil and handed them over to me in exchange for $2. I walked back home, sat at the kitchen counter and started eating breakfast. I don’t have tabasco sauce but I have some piri-piri, a Portuguese chili, to dot them and add a little kick. In Mexico, we ate a few tamales from the Zócalo. I’m more than 2,000 miles from the ciudad today but these tamales were comparable, if not better. The corn meal was so fine it melted in my mouth. There was even more chicken meat in this Harlem version, and thankfully, they were boneless. (Some vendors get lazy and put chicken wings in there!) Overall, a pretty good breakfast before 8am.

5 thoughts on “Harlem Tamales”

  • 1
    Gregor Samsa on December 27, 2006

    Oh, no, no,no.

    It’s Washington Heights–not Harlem.

    145th and Edgecombe is the bottom most edge of Washington Heights.

    Gregor Samsa

  • 2
    cia on December 27, 2006

    If you want to be technical, Sugar Hill, aka Hamilton Heights and West Harlem, is 123rd to 155th Streets bordered by Hudson River and Edgecombe. The merengue music doesn’t really start playing until a block away, on St. Nicholas. I grew up in Washington Heights and I used to vote there, so if you go by voting zones, Washington Heights is District 12, 155th Street up to 200th.

  • 3
    avisualperson on January 4, 2007

    check this; another tamale, nearby?


  • 4
    cia on January 5, 2007

    Looks like I have to go this weekend! I’ll let you know.

  • 5
    avisualperson on April 30, 2008



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