Q. I know that they were greasy and no good for me, but I still miss Manuel’s Hot Tamales. What happened? Will they ever come back? Are there any other places to get hot tamales like those?
A. This is a question I’m asked on the radio at least once a week. The answer begins with the end of Manuel’s. Near the corner of Carrollton and Canal Streets, it took very deep flooding from the storm. The lady who ran it almost single-handedly after her husband passed away some years ago thought it was a good time to retire. The grandson of the original owner registered the name, but nothing has come of that yet to my knowledge. An outfit called Lemonade Parade served some outside-bought tamales from the old Manuel’s location. They looked but didn’t taste like Manuel’s. So the original is really and truly not in the field at the moment.
Manuel’s hot tamales were, despite the name, totally American in style, and were found throughout the former Confederate states (that may be a coincidence). Not much like what you’d find in Mexico, or even Texas.
The best I’ve found of this kind of tamale are made and sold at Guillory’s, a small Old Metairie grocery store that evolved into a café. Its specialty is homemade hot tamales, along the lines of the what Manuel’s used to do–but significantly better, I think. Guillory’s is at 3708 Derbigny, a side street two blocks from and parallel to Airline Highway, between Cleary and Severn.
Also out there, but with unpredictable location, ate Mamita’s Hot Tamales. They use the recipe created by the family that ran the old El Ranchito in the 1960s and 1970s. I keep hearing reports about it, but never any solid address. Sort of a food truck at the moment.