Tamales are a staple of a Mexican Christmas, says Cici Garcia, whose family owns Connie’s Mexico Cafe at 2227 Broadway.
Not only is it a tradition to serve them at holiday gatherings, but it’s also a holiday tradition to gather to make them. It’s a time-consuming job that is easier done with a group, and many Mexican families have stories of gathering around the kitchen table with their relatives at Christmastime for tamale-making parties.
“The mothers and the grandmothers and the daughters are all in the kitchen making them, and it’s pretty fun,” Garcia said.
Tamales, which feature meat encased in cornmeal dough then cooked inside corn husks, are a year round favorite in Wichita and are on the menus of many popular Mexican restaurants. But they’re particularly popular at Christmas, when many restaurants sell them by the dozen rather than just a la carte. (They make a particularly good Christmas Eve option — or an alternative for people turkey-ed out after Thanksgiving.)
At Chico’s Mexican Restaurant, 4407 W. Maple, owner Lupita Cordova has just started advertising her annual tamale sale. Chico’s has pork tamales on the menu all year round, but at Christmas, they add chicken tamales, and they sell both varieties by the dozen.
Tamales have always been a holiday tradition in her family, said Cordova, whose father, Jose Fernandez, opened Chicos in 1974. He would always make them at Christmas.
“I don’t know if it was a joke, but my dad always said that when they were poor in Mexico, tamales were the only thing he got to unwrap at Christmas,” she said with a laugh.
Here are some of the restaurants and caterers in Wichita who are offering tamales by the dozen for the holidays. Did I miss any? E-mail me at email@example.com, and I’ll add them to the list.
Connie’s Mexico Cafe, 2227 N. Broadway, 316-832-9636: This restaurant is selling tamales for $18 a dozen through the beginning of January. They have chicken with green sauce and pork with read sauce. Those who want big orders should call a couple of days in advance.
The Angry Elephant, 2959 S. Hillside, 316-719-3969: This south-side restaurant is selling tamales stuffed with house-smoked pork for $21.99 a dozen. People can place orders Mondays through Thursdays and pick them up on Fridays.
Los Compadres Mexican Grill, 3827 W. 13th St. North, 316-558-8848: This Mexican restaurant is running a Christmas special on a dozen tamales. They’re normally $16.49 a dozen, but through December, they’re selling them for $13.49 a dozen. Customers can order in advance or stop by to pick them up.
Uno Mas, 1920 W. 21st St. North, 316-779-1090: This restaurant is selling tamales for $19.99 a dozen. Pre-order by Dec. 20 and pickup at 2 p.m. Dec. 21-24.
Tamales by Particular Pickle: Sarah Syler grew up making tamales with family friends, and over the years, her friends and family have grown to love her tamales and order them every Christmas. This year, she’s going bigger. She’s selling her homemade tamales, which come in two flavors — cheese and poblano or pork — through the Doo-Dah Market 220 E. Kellogg. They’re $25 a dozen, and people can reserve them by calling the Doo-Dah Market at 316-779-8847.