Kirby Von Scrumptious finally had some time off between her semesters as a full time teacher and a full time masters student (I don’t know how she does it!) so we decided to try out Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe in Macarthur Park. Mama’s is a restaurant with Mexican and South American cuisine that doubles as a non-profit that trains low-income people for careers in food. The only tamale I’d had since going vegan was a really crappy one from Whole Foods, so I was overdue for a good one. Mama’s tamales did not disappoint.
Mama’s has a variety of different combos you can order for lunch and every item that can be ordered vegan is clearly marked with a cute little ear of corn . Kirby and I both opted for two tamales with a salad. I ordered the two vegan tamales they were offering that day: black bean and herbs and the very unique kimchi tamale, made with rice instead of corn. Both arrived quickly after we ordered with a tomatillo dipping sauce.
The masa in the black bean and herb tamale was downright creamy. With some of the tomatillo sauce spread on top, this baby was a delight.
The kimchi tamale was out of this world. The pillowy rice with the tangy kimchi as a perfect combo. I could have easily eaten 3 or 4 more of these.
I chose Mama’s House Salad because the avocado-cilantro vinaigrette sounded so appealing. The salad contents were pretty basic (greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, tortilla strips, and hold the queso fresco) but the dressing took it to another level. It was cooling, creamy, and the cilantro was delightfully prominent.
In addition to the daily rotation of tamales, Mama’s also has different kinds of agua fresca every day. On this particular day I was thrilled to hear they had horchata and that it was vegan. To my great frustration, it is quite difficult to find vegan horchata in this town (which is extremely annoying as classic Mexican horchata is simply rice milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon–why do these places have to go and add milk to it?!) I had high hopes but unfortunately, Mama’s horchata was way too sweet. If they cut back on the sugar a bit it would have been perfect. Of course I sucked the whole thing down anyway so I guess it wasn’t that big of a problem!
The restaurant itself is very pleasant with bright murals on the walls and a big window that overlooks the pond in the park. The staff was very friendly and attentive and they were very knowledgeable about veganism. I’d also like to add that I love the chairs and tables at Mama’s! They are slightly wider than your average seating arrangement and I felt like a queen eating on her throne. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, those tables were made for feasting.
I cannot wait to get back to this awesome spot and it will be easier now that they are open for dinner as well as lunch! I am looking forward to trying their menu items with Daiya like the burrito and the Argentine empanadas.
Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe
2122 West Seventh St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057