Delta Tamales

179 MILES | 3 hr 45 min | by Michael Stern
Save
Navigate

From the street corners of Memphis through the Mississippi Delta, tamales are sold in eateries of every kind. There is no clear explanation for the ubiquity of a Mexican dish in the deep Southeast other than the surmise that workers from Mexico who came to pick cotton inspired African-Americans to give the pork and corn dish their own unique twist. Some accounts hearken back to a visiting cook from the Texas-Mexico border who instilled the passion in local eaters. Pat Davis, grandson of the founder of Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale, Mississippi, told us, “No doubt granddaddy got it from someone in town,” reminding us that Abe had come to the U.S. from Lebanon, where tamales aren’t a big part of the culinary mix. Why Abe thought they would sell well in his pork parlor is a head-scratcher. “There were no Mexican restaurants here then,” Pat says. “And as far as I know, not many Mexicans.” Even tamale cooks who have no idea why they are the area’s signature dish agree that hot tamales are a tradition that stretches back in time as far as the blues.

1

Rhoda’s Famous Tamales

Blue-ribbon beef & chicken tamales emanate irresistibly appetizing aroma. No wonder Rhoda's is the pride of Lake Village.

2

Doe’s Eat Place

Doe's is a funky backroom restaurant in the Mississippi Delta that serves four-star steaks accompanied by skillet-cooked French fries and/or hot tamales.

3

Crystal Grill

Cream pies are some of Mississippi's best at the Crystal Grill, where pre-pie lunch includes classic Dixie vegetables and hot tamales.

4

Giardina’s

Giardina's is a colorful Mississippi Delta restaurant specializing in great steaks, broiled pompano and meals that reflect Greenwood's Italian heritage.

5

White Front Café

Tamales are at their best at the White Front Cafe, a Mississippi Delta destination where they're the only thing on the menu.

Must Eats
6

Hicks’

Hicks' tamales pack a hard pepper kick. The Clarksdale landmark also has a full menu of ribs, rib tips, and chopped pork shoulder cooked over hickory.

Must Eats
7

Abe’s

At the famous Clarksdale crossroads of Highways 61 & 49 in Mississippi blues country, Abe’s serves thin-sliced, crisp-edged barbecued pork and hot tamales.

8

Ground Zero Blues Club

Ground Zero is a colorful restaurant / blues club named to signify the blues-lore belief that Clarksdale, Mississippi, is where the blues began.