As any dedicated foodie will attest, whenever two great culinary cultures meet, the results are nothing short of irresistible. Such is the case with the Mississippi Delta hot tamale. For more than 100 years, the tamale has been a staple of the Delta region thanks to an influx of migrant workers from Mexico who used available ingredients to create a taste of home. Locals adopted the dish, and tamale stands began to pop up throughout Mississippi.
Each fall, the Delta Hot Tamale Festival draws enthusiasts to sample and celebrate the humble tamale, but you can enjoy this cross-cultural treat anytime by following Mississippi’s Hot Tamale Trail, visiting tamale stands and even dining in casual and upscale restaurants.
Take-Out Tamales to Try
Solly’s – Vicksburg
Solly’s Hot Tamales has been a Vicksburg tradition since 1939. Henry Solly, a native of Cuba, began selling hot tamales from a pushcart. His tamales became so popular, he retired the cart and opened a storefront. Today, Solly’s friends continue his tradition by making tamales according to his recipe.
White Front Café – Rosedale
Joe’s Hot Tamale Place a.k.a. The White Front Café is located in a wood-frame white house on Route 1 and is a legendary hot tamale stop. These spicy, beef-filled tamales come wrapped in corn husks and during the winter months, the owners will sometimes make up to 400 dozen to sell.
Big Apple Inn – Jackson
Famous for the pig ear sandwich, the Big Apple Inn also serves up a mean tamale. One of the best kept secrets in Jackson is the Big Apple Inn’s satellite location off of North State Street in North Jackson. Park in front of the restaurant, order a few dozen mouth-watering tamales to-go and serve dinner to a crowd in no time.
Delta Fast Food - Cleveland
Gentle Lee Rainey learned the art of tamale making from his grandfather who sold tamales on weekends to earn extra income. Today, Rainey owns and operates Delta Fast Food in Cleveland, where he has served hot tamales and other take-out foods since 1995. He still makes hot tamales using his grandfather’s recipe, but with a little added spice.
White (or Red-Checkered) Tablecloth Tamales to Try
Walker’s Drive-In – Jackson
Built in 1946, Walker's Drive-In still has the same glass brick trim and authentic neon sign. Award-winning chef Derek Emerson creates crowd-pleasing plate lunches and decadent dinners, but whenever you go, don’t miss the tamale appetizer. With sweet corn sauce, chipotle sour cream and fresh pico de gallo, these tamales are haute.
Serio’s – Greenwood
Open since 1943, Serio’s is a family owned restaurant known for authentic Italian fare. In true Delta style, the establishment also serves up tamales by the dozen as well as an appetizer option, all handmade on premises at Serio’s.
Ajax – Oxford
Ajax Diner on the Courthouse square in downtown Oxford offers visitors folk art ambiance, uniquely Southern entrees and plenty of Mississippi mystique. The menu offers daily plate lunch specials and adventurous entrees like hot tamale pie. Made with spicy cheese grits stuffed with smoked pork, green chiles, corn and tomatoes, this twist on traditional tamales satisfies.
Doe’s Eat Place – Greenville
Doe’s Eat Place has been serving up the same all-beef tamale recipe since 1941, and the restaurant still has an old-time charm. Doe Signa, Jr., grew up working in the restaurant his father founded, and he has since taken over for him. Try the tamales topped with homemade chili for a meal to write home about.