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Five Essential Tamale Stops in the Delta

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Five Essential Tamale Stops in the Delta
Photos and text Michelle Meredith

Like all Delta culture, tamales are a product of the unique geographic history of this alluvial plain in the western part of Mississippi. This traditional Latin American dish has been changed inexplicably to become a permanent piece of Delta culture. While tamales can be found at almost any soul food restaurant or gas station in the Delta, some tamale stops are essential to the cities where they reside.

Doe’s Eat Place

While Doe’s boasts the highest quality steaks in the Delta, this place was built by tamales. Wrapped in parchment paper rather than the traditional corn husk, these aromatic beef tamales are part of the reason why Greenville is officially the Hot Tamale Capital of the World. 502 Nelson Street, Greenville MS

Hot Tamale Heaven

Arguably the only real rival to Doe’s in Greenville is Hot Tamale Heaven, a brightly colored shack with a takeout window and nearby picnic tables. The operation sells their tamales to several restaurants in Greenville and the surrounding area, so tamales here can also be purchased frozen, fresh, and even deep fried. 1640 Highway 82 East / Greenville MS

The White Front Cafe

Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, also known as the White Front Cafe, is a small white house on the highway that only serves fresh, hot beef tamales. The bare, rural town seems an unlikely mecca for tamale history, so a historic marker stands in front of the shack to remind patrons of the Delta’s rich cultural relationship to these legendary tamales. 902 Main Street, Rosedale MS

Larry’s Hot Tamales

Larry’s in Clarksdale is much newer than other tamale places in the surrounding area, but the food already has a reputation. The corn husk tamales are stuffed full, and always dripping with the Delta style spicy sauce. Though not as rich in history, this establishment is definitely rich in flavor and friendliness. 947 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale MS

Delta Fast Food

Gentle Lee Rainey’s father made tamales with leftover corn husks from the fields at Dockery Plantation and sold them to make extra money on the weekends. Now, Gentle has owned and operated Delta Fast Food since 1995. The family recipe makes these tamales a moist, savory treat for lunch or dinner along historic Highway 61. 701 South Davis at Highway 61, Cleveland MS

MORE TAMALES /// Pressure Cooker Tamales / Embrace the Blossom / Corn Pudding Tamales / The Dai Before Christmas