Ah, tamales! The favorite dish of traditional Mexican fiestas and celebrations is now available at the local Trader Joe’s. Tamales were a staple of Los Angeles’ Christmas celebrations, New Years festivities, weddings, and Bar Mitzvahs. Although tamales may not be served at Bar Mitzvahs as much, you get the point.
My impression was that all tamales needed to be fresh made to be good. They were either bought at a small Mami and Papi’s and brought directly to the party or made on-site by my family.
Levels of skepticism were through the roof when we spied these Chicken & Cheese Tamales in the frozen section at TJ’s. Sonia’s had tamales from chain restaurants, sit-down restaurants, and grocery stores, and any hot-blooded Mexicana will tell you that they just don’t taste right unless they’re fresh and homemade.
We decided to bravely try Trader Joe’s brand. The tamales were reheated in the microwave, and then the corn husk shells were removed from the tamales. Sonia seemed to be equally impressed after the first bite. On the contrary, she was pleasantly stunned as her tastebuds told her that TJ’s had done the nearly impossible once again. These are not by any means the best. Better Sonia stated that homemade tamales are superior to fresh ones, but they’re “next best thing”.
If you’re a first time reader—or someone who just really knows your tamales, you might be thinking “Hmmm…I bet this guy works for Trader Joe’s. It’s impossible for an objective reviewer to be so passionate about frozen tamales.
Sometimes I wish Trader Joe’s would employ us full-time to do what we do here. But then, we wouldn’t have freedom to rip off their products when they try to trick us. Spiced Cranberry CiderOr Turkey Meatloaf Muffins.
Trust me. Trust me. We are impartial, outside reviewers who give our honest opinions to TJ’s customers and try to help them. This is another reason why we love this website. Trader Joe’s always surprises us with high-quality, unique food products at a great price. You can see frozen tamales that are worth eating. Sonia rates them solidly at 4 stars. I do too.
Bottom line: 8/10