In the Southwest, tamales are part of the holiday season. A longtime Christmas tradition said to have begun in Mexico, it is now also a beloved part of the season for many in the United States.
Tamales feature a steamed cornmeal dough called masa and are filled with meat (typically chicken, pork, or beef), cheese, or vegetable fillings. They are wrapped, steamed, and served in corn husks.
Making tamales can be a labor of love, so if you prefer to leave their creation to the experts, here’s where to order them this holiday season in Scottsdale. Want to learn to make them yourself? Several locales are also offering classes.
Macayo’s Mexican Food
Macayo’s Mexican Food is holding a tamalada—a traditional Mexican event where groups of family and friends gather to assemble tamales—on Sat., Dec. 16 at Macayo’s Scottsdale. The class begins at 3 p.m. and includes a tamale assembly tutorial of red beef and green corn tamales that participants can then take home to enjoy, as well as lunch and a Margarita de Macayo ($50). Tamale enthusiasts can also purchase tamale kits to host their own tamalada at home. Kits are available throughout the holiday season at all Macayo’s locations and include all the materials and ingredients to make six full-sized tamales (choice of red beef or green corn) and instructions on how to assemble and prepare them at home. Each kit is $15. 8608 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale
This modern taco spot in Old Town Scottsdale is offering a dozen tamales to-go ($40). Choose from red beef machaca or green chili chicken. The order comes with a choice of rice and beans. There is also a dine-in individual tamale plate option, which includes a choice of two red beef machaca or green chili chicken tamales topped with black beans, corn queso, pickled onion, fresno pepper, and cabbage, served with a side of rice and beans of your choice ($15). There is limited availability for both the dine-in and take-out options. Diego Pop’s sister-restaurant in Arcadia, Eat Up Drive In, is also offering the same red and green tamales to-go (1 dozen) beginning Dec. 1 through the holidays for those looking to pick up the highly sought-after dish of the season. 4338 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
T. Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa is offering its new Cocina Latina experience, where guests can gather with them in the kitchen—or “cocina”—for an authentic tamale-making experience. Learn the process of making tamales step by step as well as about the variations of the dish. Offered every Friday from 12:30-1:30 inside T. Cook’s at the Chef’s Table. $55 per person; reservations required. Royal Palms Resort and Spa, 5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
The Phoenix Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International
At 6:30-8:15 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 29, join the Phoenix Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International for its virtual Cook Like a Dame Holiday Tamale Cooking Class ($35). Led by award-winning chef, instructor, and Dame Candy Lesher, an Arizona native and Culinary Hall of Fame inductee, and moderated by Dame Debbie Elder, the chapter’s president in training, the class covers how to make green corn tamales and tomatillo salsa, from for rolling and steaming plus secrets to making a brilliantly intense green tomatillo salsa as well as inspiration on how to modify the tamale recipe for vegetarians and vegans. Recipes are provided in advance so participants can cook alongside Chef Lesher.