Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tamales Elena, Watts,CA: Guerreran Tamales in the New Watts

While doing a crawl through Huntington Park, SOuth Gate, Inglewood, and Watts during Christmas of 2008 I stumbled upon Tamales Elena.Tamales Elena is part of the new Watts, a traditionally African-American neighborhood that has experienced a huge influx of Mexicans and Central Americans.

Judep, and her family have brought their Guerrero style of tamale making to Watts, and have found a home. Their clientele consists of latinos and African-Americans alike. Judep, married Bernard, a Watts resident of African descent.

The truck is parked on Wilmington Ave., just a short distance from the world famous Watt's Towers.

Everytime I've been there, I've come across a group of men sitting on some abandoned car seats, nursing 40-ounce bottles wrapped in paper bags shooting the breeze, talking about the things slightly buzzed guys talk about. Don't mind them, just say good morning, and they'll return the courtesy.

Don't worry about what you heard about Watts, come and experience it for yourself. Great people and excellent Mexican food!

People from Guerrero are known for their tamales. The beef in red sauce is tender, mildly spiced from a natural sauce of dried chiles, and a perfectly moist and well seasoned masa.

Cheese and pork tamales in green sauce are also delicious.These are simple tamales, the kinds you've had countless times around town, and if you're lucky, at your family's house during the holidays. The key to these common tamales and what separates Tamales Elena from the others you've had is the taste.

These are everything you've wished for in those many tamale encounters, a pleasing masa feel and a mouth full of flavor from stewed and steamed filling.

Chicken tamales have always been a favorite of mine. I once had a half hour argument with my dad to try and convince my grandmother to include chicken tamales in the Christmas order. It worked!

In addition to their fine chicken tamales there are chile strips with cheese and a sweet tamale.There are other dishes on the menu too, but tamales are the specialty of this trailer.

After a visit here you will find yourself telling people, "I'm going to pick up some tamales in Watts, be right back!" Never mind the strange looks, bring 'em with you and let them see for themselves that Watts a tamale destination.

Tamales Elena
Wilmington Ave. near 110th ('til 4PM daily)
Watts, CA


Geoff said...

Is this trailer on the NE corner?

Thanks in advance.

streetgourmetla said...

It's on the NW corner, Geoff.

Sally H said...

These look exactly how my grandma's tamales looked! Even the description and other types seem like what she made. mmmm wish I had some right now - Guess I better get to Elena's!

Unknown said...

How about a recipe for those of us in Alaska that can't get to the cart. Remember those carts from my time in San Diego. Especially the ones at the junkyards south of time.