Tamales at La Popular Feed the Community (And They Want To Give You 10 Dozen Free!)

by Steven Doyle    photos by Robert Bostick

Today we visit with the absolute giants in the tamale industry, La Popular. The Tamale House has gained a reputation for not only making quality tamales year round, but also takes pride in giving back to the community as we will find out with this Q&A with both Jesse Moreno Sr. and Jr. at La Popular.

La Popular is one of the most respected tamale makers in Dallas and for a good reason. The tamale continually makes the top of any best tamale list since they opened in 1984. There are currently two locations for La Popular, one in the Lakewood area and the other in Shed #1 at the Dallas Farmers Market. You ma pick up fresh, hot tamales for the holidays at either location, even on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Jump to join the conversation with the Moreno family.  

Busy time of year guys?

Jesse Jr: Absolutely. This is our busiest time of year and we have already taken quite a few orders and now just trying to keep up with demand. We probably do 90% of our business in a week’s period.

So how do you make the tamales?

Jesse Jr: We start off by grinding our own corn to make the masa and we add that to the corn husks that we soak over night. We do a traditional pork, pork and jalapeno, beef, chicken, and we are one of the few that started doing a vegetarian and vegan tamale for our customers. We do a bean and also a rajas tamale. The masa is also gluten-free. We also do special orders. We had a customer once who brought in his own game, so we made elk tamales.

We are making these tamales all by hand with crews that are working around the clock. They are always fresh and never frozen.

Jesse Sr. you are referred to as the doctor of tamalogy. Care to elaborate?

Jesse Sr: I suppose it’s because I am the master at making tamales, but tamales have been made since 5,000 BC in the pre-Colombian era. Every time you get a tamale from la Popular you are getting a piece of us. This is a little gift wrapped in a corn husk.

Why did you switch from using Manteca to corn oil?

Jesse Sr: We never used Manteca, we have always used corn oil. We have been doing this for over 30 years. It really has been about the tastes of our clientele.

What is the secret to a great tamale?

Jesse Sr: It’s got to be the love. Really, we use the best ingredients and make these each by hand. You just can’t get any better than that, and we do this because we sincerely love our clientele. We are part of this community and want everyone to enjoy what we do here.

Speaking of community, your family does a lot of volunteer work and also works closely with DISD. Tell us a bit about that.

Jesse Sr: I had some really good mentors when I was growing up, and I think giving back is the right thing to do. I especially want to empower women and children. I think everyone is born smart, but some have the right tools and others don’t. It really is up to the local businesses to do what the parents aren’t able to do. It’s up to all of us, really.

How many tamales are you going to make this holiday?

Jesse Sr: I really have no idea, but I know when I sleep all I see is the yellow of the corn husk. I am working 18 hours a day as we get closer to Christmas.

What advice do you have for those wanting to make their own tamales?

Jesse Jr: We do offer a do-it-yourself tamale kit. We sell the homemade masa, the corn husks and meat so you can take them home and make them yourself if you wish. I think people really love the smell of the tamales as much as they do eating them.

The Moreno family will be working Christmas Day feeding anyone needing a hot meal at their location in East Dallas. They are joined each year by friends, family and community leaders, each taking part to make sure everyone has a good meal that day.

To win 10 dozen fresh and delicious tamales from La Popular, merely make a comment below. A tamale memory would be great! We will pick a winner at random Friday, December 12th at the end of the business day.



Filed under Crave, Dallas, Dallas Farmers Market, fun with food, Get Involved, Lakewood, Mexican Food, Robert Bostick, Steven Doyle, tamales

26 responses to “Tamales at La Popular Feed the Community (And They Want To Give You 10 Dozen Free!)

  1. Heather

    Christmas day is not the same without La Popular tamales. And the rice…delicious!!

    El día de Navidad no es lo mismo sin tamales La populares. Y el arroz … delicioso !!

  2. I’ve tried many a tamale, and always come back to La Popular – YUM!

  3. Chris


  4. cd

    Tamales? I’m in.

  5. Marc Moberg

    Oh my. I love great tamales.

  6. Kimberly

    I heard these were Yummy
    Can’t wait to try them 😉

  7. Stoney Reynolds

    I would love some tamales! !!

  8. Hayley

    That sounds delicious!! My dad absolutely looooooves tamales and passed on that love to me! I get him some every single year for Christmas!

  9. Tamales are always a Christmas Eve tradition at our house. We always send someone out to pick up a fresh order that morning!!

  10. Ali Ferrin

    Tamales have always brought up find childhood memories spending hours with my grandma and mother. However, as an adult I really don’t take the time to make them. I’m looking forward to trying La Popular tamales this holiday season!!!

  11. Mike

    Our favorite tamale memory is some years ago when we were going to visit family in Tampa, Florida for Christmas. We had a late morning flight, so we decided that tamales from La Popular would be a great gift to bring to them. When we went through security, TSA threatened to take our tamales, so we yelled very loudly that TSA was trying to steal our tamales. We were allowed to keep the tamales and board our flight. The entire plane was filled with the aroma of fresh tamales and generated quite a few comments. We could have easily sold all of them on the plane. After all, the tamales are a million times better than airline food.

  12. Marie

    Finally someone who makes vegetarian tamales!! Thank you for telling us that!!

  13. Sam Liu

    I will be going to my girlfriend to stay with her family in Connecticut for the first time this Christmas. I’d really like to introduce these Yankees to the delicious tradition of Christmas tamales!

  14. Sofie T.

    Been wanting to try their tamales!

  15. cathleen

    Gracias! Great review. I’ll be by tomorrow to order my holiday tamales!

  16. Carol Tobias

    My mother-in-law is 102. She doesn’t know who I am now but I took her beef tamales for her December birthday and she knew what they were. Viva La Popular tamales!!!

  17. These sound great. I have not had the pleasure of eating these tamales yet. It’s on my to do list for sure.

  18. Jessica Darnell

    I think it’s so awesome that you provide meals during the holiday’s.

  19. Rhonda Russell

    We started the tradition of having tamales on Christmas Eve, and La Popular has the best in town!

  20. Celeste McGee

    I love tamales all year long. They are the best Mexican food but few restaurants do them well. La Popular’s are outstanding!

  21. Sofie T is our winner of the whole ten dozen tamales. Invite us to your tamale party, Sofie! Congratulations

  22. It’s really nice when you find a Mexican restaurant that can make good tamales. I have several co-workers who love eating tamales. We’re having a catered business meeting in a few days. I’m sure they would love to have good Mexican food for their meal. I hope that I can find a restaurant that caters.

  23. I need your address. And cell number

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