Tamales from Tamale Boy.
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Tamale Boy

When trying to track down top-notch tamales, there are more places to look than your local Mexican restaurant. Tamale vendors outside grocery stores and gas stations have sold corn-husk-wrapped gold for decades, filling moist, pillowy masa with everything from chicken mole to Oaxacan cheese. In Portland, you’ll find tamales across the city and in its surrounding suburbs — on restaurant menus, at food carts, in the deli cases of Mexican markets, and out of coolers. Some of these tamale vendors even use masa nixtamalized in the city, whether it’s done in-house or at the lauded Three Sisters masa factory.

Below, find our guide to tracking down tamales in Portland and beyond. Note that some of these tamales are served chilled, to be reheated at home. For more Mexican food, check out this map.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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