by Susan Marquez
Tamales, by definition, are a Mexican dish of seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and steamed or baked in corn husks. While some tamale offerings are quite humble, others are elevated to a whole new level with added toppings, a satisfying addition to any meal or served as a main dish.
Though the origin of this simple dish has may possibilities, tamales have become a favorite from the Mississippi Delta to right here in Jackson.
The Big Apple Inn – 509 North Farish Street
The Big Apple Inn has been serving up tamales for as long as owner Geno Lee can remember.
The tamales have deviated slightly from the original recipe over the years. The masa was changed to a cornmeal version about 20 years ago, and they now use ground turkey for a moist and flavorful tamale.
Lee continues in the legacy of his great-grandfather, Juan “Big John” Mora, born in Mexico City. Mora arrived in Jackson in the late 1930s and began peddling handmade tamales on street corners. He eventually earned enough money to open his own restaurant on historic Farish Street, once the center of African American culture in downtown Jackson.
La Cazuela Mexican Grill – 1401 East Fortification Street
The Garcia Family brings authenticity to the pork tamales they serve at their restaurant, La Cazuela Mexican Grill.
The tamales served at La Cazuela are strictly pork and served on a platter with traditional rice and beans. You can order two tamales for $6.95 or three for $7.95. Tamales are also served with several of the combination plates offered at the restaurant.
The Garcias are from the State of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and they have been serving Mexican fare to Jacksonians for nearly 20 years.
Walker’s Drive-In – 3016 North State Street
Tamales aren’t always a casual, classic cuisine. When Chef Derek Emerson is in the kitchen, tamales are elevated to fine-dining status.
At Emerson’s restaurant, Walker’s Drive-In, tamales are offered on the appetizer menu. Three flavorful tamales are served with fresh pico de gallo, chipotle sour cream and a mouth-watering sweet corn sauce. The appetizer is priced at $14, but can be a main course if you are looking for a lighter meal.
Margarita’s Mexican Grill – 1625 East County Line Road
At Margarita’s Mexican Grill, tamales here are offered as a side dish and are often ordered as appetizers.
Made fresh in-house each day, Margarita’s makes their tamales with beef, and they are traditionally wrapped and tied in dried corn husks. Order one for $2.99 or three for $7.99.