Thanks to the resurgence of tamaleras in SanTana, we have tamales all year round. But come December, these individually wrapped presents are in high demand, and should you not have a homemade hook-up, Ruby’s Tamales has you covered. Outside the Northgate on Mortimer and Fourth Street sits a stainless-steel wagon with big, bright-red umbrellas and Ruby selling steaming tamales of the corn-husk and banana-leaf style.
Ruby’s tamales are excellent, packed with meat and just the right ratio of masa to filling. Her offerings include pork (cooked in a spicy sauce of red New Mexico chiles), chicken in chile verde, rajas con queso (roasted poblano with jack cheese) and tamales de dulce (sweet pink tamales). At $1.50 each, they sell out fast.
The stand gets hectic on weekend mornings, when residents are looking to buy a dozen tamales and a hot cafecito for the walk home. No matter the day, you’ll want to get up early to snag her signature ranchera tamales wrapped in banana leaf; the masa is moist and spongy and filled with savory pork in a red chile sauce. Another favorite is the torta de tamal, which features your choice of tamale inside a bolillo; this Mexico City masterpiece also sells out quickly.
And if you don’t mind taking a siesta for the rest of the day, wash down your tamales with a homemade champurrado, a steaming cup of atole, Mexican dark chocolate and cinnamon. Consider this thick, masa-based drink your winter coat.
Ruby’s Tamales, in front of Northgate, Fourth and Mortimer streets, Santa Ana.
Cynthia Rebolledo covers anything and everything food, culture and spirits.