Tamales have been a part of Southern California holidays for years.
One reason tamales are a special-occasion dish is that making them is a time-consuming endeavor, usually done by a crowd. Because it can be so difficult to find the time and help during the holidays to make your own, here's a list of places that have tamales to go and the hours they are open before Christmas. Be sure to call a few days ahead to check availability and to place your order.
With a corn husk as wrapping paper and kitchen string for a ribbon, tamales are a savory gift to offer to the people gathered around your table during the holidays.
Antonio's: Blue corn, chile verde, chicken and sweet tamales. They can also be ordered with mole. $8 per dozen. 7470 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Mondays and Christmas Day. (213) 655-0480.
Border Grill: Green corn tamales served with sides of sour cream and salsa, $1.50 each; Guatemalan tamales (chicken, olives and raisins) served with sides of achiote sauce, $3.25 each. 1445 4th St., Santa Monica. Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Monday through Wednesday, 5 to 10 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. (310) 451-1655.
El Cholo: Holiday tamales (turkey breast with mole and chutney) and pork tamales, $3 each. Green corn and holiday tamales can be ordered by phone and delivered the next day, $60 per dozen. 1121 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. (213) 734-2773. And 1025 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Christmas Day. (310) 899-1106.
Juanito's: Red or green chile tamales, $13.80 per dozen; sweet tamales (pineapple, coconut and raisin), $11.40 per dozen. 4214 Floral Drive, East Los Angeles. Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Christmas Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (213) 268-2365.
La Conquistador: Beef, pork, chicken, cheese and sweet tamales, $9.50 per dozen. 5401 N. Huntington Drive, Los Angeles. Sunday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Christmas Day, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. (213) 342-0202.
La Indiana: Red chile tamales with meat, green chile tamales with cheese, chicken with vegetables tamales and sweet tamales with pineapple and raisins, $10 per dozen or $1 each. 1142 S. Indiana St., Los Angeles. Sunday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Christmas Day, 8 a.m. to noon. (213) 262-4682.
Tamale Express: Pork, beef, chicken, cheese, corn and sweet tamales, $12 per dozen. 331 N. Benson St., Covina. Sunday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Christmas Day, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (626) 337-0063.
Tamara's Tamales: Variety of tamales from traditional to vegetarian, vegan, fat-free and dessert, from $1 to $3 each. Marina Plaza, 13352 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Christmas Day. (310) 305-7714 or (888) T-TAMALE.
--Compiled by JANET McCRACKEN