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The Best Tamales in San Diego

Tamales have been used as the main entrée for holiday celebrations in San Diego for years! As the use of tamales crossed ethnic avenues over the years, the flavors and taste make them a popular choice during the holiday season. Here are 10 places offering the best tamales in San Diego for you to enjoy this holiday season!

The Best Tamales in San Diego

The Best Tamales in San Diego

Tamales Jovita, Escondido

In less than five years, Tamales Jovita has made a name for itself when it comes to outstanding tamales in the North County. Offering pork, beef, and chicken tamales in either red or green sauce, you could use the holiday-themed colors to create your own Christmas tree. Tamales Jovita also features rajas, cheese tamales with green peppers, tomatoes, and onions.

El Indio, San Diego

More than 80 years ago, El Indio opened as a tortilla factory, making corn tortillas fresh by hand daily. During World War II, airline plant workers sought a quick meal, so El Indio created taquitos – “little tacos,” as they called them. Today, you can order a variety of tamales, such as beef or chicken prepared with chili beans on top, veggies prepared with enchilada sauce on top, or pork prepared with salsa verde on top. Traditional tamales come in corn husks (without sauce) and feature beef, pork, chicken, or veggies. Order sauce on the side to add to your tamales. Tamales are made fresh daily using stoneground mass.

Tamales in San Diego

Don Carlos Taco Shop, La Jolla

Offering some of the best tacos and tamales in San Diego for nearly 30 years, Don Carlos Taco Shop features 13 varieties of tamales. Based in La Jolla, you’ll find the usual suspects of beef, pork, and chicken tamales, as well as sweet corn and jalapeño cheese. For a change, try the turkey, ground beef, harvest, soyrizo, mushroom tofu, or 3-bean tamales. Complete your dining experience with dessert featuring pineapple raisin and mango peach tamales.

Tamales Ancira, Chula Vista

Since opening in 1989, Tamales Ancira in Chula Vista has offered delicious tamales, gorditas, and more. A popular eatery any day of the year, Tamales Ancira ranks as one of the best tamale outlets for the holidays. With nine varieties, you’re sure to find a family favorite. Pork, beef, chicken, picadillo, and chicharron top the meat tamales. Veggie tamales include sweet corn, bean with cheese, and cheese with jalapeños. Grab a pineapple tamale for dessert.

Best Tamales Near San Diego

Ranchos Cocina, San Diego

Ranchos Cocina prides itself on offering vegetarian and vegan options when it comes to Mexican food including its tamales. With veggie rajas, pina, and shiitake mushroom tamales available, Ranchos Cocina is a popular outlet for meat alternatives. The restaurant also offers chicken tamales.

Tamale Brenda’s, San Diego

A favorite among locals, Tamala Brenda’s is a great choice for holiday tamales. Beef and pork with red sauce and chicken with green sauce rank among the best tamales in San Diego. Elote (sweet corn) and cheese with jalapeños are delicious vegetarian options. For dessert, order the pineapple or strawberry tamales.

Best Tamales Near San Diego

Tamales Reyes, Escondido

Featuring authentic Mexican fare, Tamales Reyes offers some of the best tamales in San Diego. Wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, Tamales Reyes makes delicious tamales featuring chicken with green sauce, pork with red sauce, or cheese with jalapeños.

Las Cuatro Milsaps, San Diego

A San Diego institution since 1933, Las Cuatro Milsaps features a basic menu, but with great food. Offering only pork tamales with red sauce, the eatery continues to be a favorite among locals and visitors, with lines often forming outside for a chance to enjoy the cuisine. Las Cuatro Milsaps may offer chicken tamales on Christmas Eve, but you may want to call ahead to confirm.

Tamales in San Diego

Maritza’s Mexican Food Restaurant, San Diego

Creating outstanding dishes with large portions is the name of the game at Maritza’s Mexican Food Restaurant. While you can order the standards, the pork and chicken tamales in corn husks rate among the best in the area.

Casa de Reyes, San Diego

Enjoy festive Mexican music by mariachi bands on stage while you sample outstanding authentic Mexican fare at Casa de Reyes, an outdoor restaurant. Offering pork tamales in corn husks with tomatillo, as well as beef and chicken with red sauce, it’s easy to understand why the restaurant’s tamales are among the best in San Diego.

San Diego Best Tamales

Whether you enjoy eating tamales from a food truck, vintage hole-in-the-wall eateries, or at a sit-down restaurant, San Diego has great options for outstanding tamales. As you order tamales for the holiday season, ensure you offer a variety of delicious tamales from San Diego’s best outlets.

Happy Holidays!



Sunday 25th of December 2022

Las Cuatro Milpas


Thursday 19th of January 2023

Thank you for the recommendation.