9 Places for the Best Tamales in Chicago

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Chicago winters call for piping hot comfort food to warm your hands, body, and soul. We’ve covered where to get the best takeout without leaving your home and rounded up our fave spots for hot soup and tea. However, don’t forget one of the most delicious ways to keep warm and make your tastebuds happy. Yes, we’re talking… Tamales! Whether you like them filled with pollo, carne, frijoles, queso, or one of each, here are nine places to order the best tamales in Chicago.

The Tamale Guy

1209 N Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60622

Claudio Velez, aka “The Tamale Guy,” and his signature red cooler packed with tamales and green salsa is a local legend. The mobile caterer has been a staple in Chicago’s nightlife for over 20 years with locals calling him the “Santa Claus for the drunk and hungry.”

For Claudio’s signature offerings, order his famous pork, chicken, or cheese tamales, all served with house-made salsa. The menu also has dessert tamales, chips and salsa, and weekend specials.

The Tamale Lady

1900-1998, W 21st Pl, Chicago, IL 60608

After exploring the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, walk a few blocks south to find The Tamale Lady, a local favorite and must-try in the city. Her cart filled with delicious tamales and hot beverages will keep you warm. Come early because they sell out fast!

The menu includes pork, chicken, and cheese tamales as well as strawberry and pineapple options for dessert. You’ll also find Oaxacan-style tamales, which use banana leaves instead of corn husks, preserving more moisture. 

Yvolina’s Tamales

814 W 18th St, Chicago, IL 60608

Made from scratch with a focus on vegan offerings, the tamales from Yvolina’s are sure to hit the spot. The Pilsen eatery uses olive oil in its masa mixture instead of lard, making the masa exterior 100% vegan.

Yvolina’s is well-loved for their vegan tamales with fillings like quinoa, lentils, kale, or mushrooms. The spot also offers your classic meat fixings as well as Oaxacan-style tamales.

Rosas Tamales

5632 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60629

3314 W 55th St, Chicago, IL 60632

3811 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL 60629

4619 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60632

With four locations in the city’s Southwest Side, Rosas Tamales has become a popular local chain. Some menu items are only available in certain locations, like quesadillas exclusive to Rosas Tamales #4, or weekend-only items.  Also, you can get tamales (traditional or Oaxacan-style) at all locations, always served hot and fresh. Pork, chicken, beans, and more fillings are offered with salsa roja (red sauce) or salsa verde (green sauce) options for the meat.

Manolo’s Tamales

4706 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL 60629

5341 S Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60632

6641 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60638

Manolo’s has all your favorite Mexican dishes, from tamales and enchiladas to tacos and burritos. The local chain has three locations across Chicago’s Southwest Side, providing perfect accessibility to satisfy your tamale craving. If this is your first time there, you really need to try their popular green chicken, red pork, or pepper and cheese corn husk tamales.

Tamales lo Mejor de Guerrero

7024 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60626

This Mexican eatery in Rogers Park has a great selection of homemade tamales with your favorite savory fillings like chicken and pork in green or red sauce, beans with cheese, and jalapeño with cheese. For something sweet, order the pineapple or strawberry tamales.

Kie-Gol-Lanee

5004 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640

Kie-Gol-Lanee serves traditional Oaxacan cuisine and is a 2020 and 2021 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Award Winner. 

The restaurant offers original flavors from the highlands of Oaxaca and the pacific coast, including Oaxacan-style tamales filled with red mole with chicken or green mole with pork. For a vegetarian option, try the mushrooms, spicy tomato sauce, and cilantro tamales.

Quesadilla La Reina Del Sur

2235 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Quesadilla La Reina Del Sur is a casual Mexican eatery that specializes in vegan and vegetarian fare, and they definitely have some of the best tamales in Chicago. The menu has a wide selection of soy-based proteins, like steak, pork, lamb, chorizo, and chicken. In addition, their homemade vegan tamales are stuffed with green salsa and soy chicken, and are a crowd favorite, no matter you’re vegan or not!

La Casa Del Pueblo Taqueria

1834 S Blue Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

This family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant in Pilsen has served authentic home-style cooking since 1962. The menu features a wide variety of northern-style Mexican dishes, including its award-winning tamales. Tamale filling options include pork in a mild red sauce, pork with a slice of jalapeno and dollop of mole, chicken in a mild green sauce, cheese with slices of poblano pepper, or refried beans.

Featured Image Credit: Tamales lo Mejor de Guerrero

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