The Tri-Cities is known for its hot, dry sunshine, its celebrated wines, the cool, refreshing rivers that snake through the cities and for an unmatched and intense authenticity in its people and their food.
The realness is especially apparent walking into Miss Tamale in the Richland Parkway. The music is loud, the colors are vibrant and the service is fast, efficient and friendly. The cheerful, bright interior of the restaurant is almost as vivid as the tamales bursting out of the kitchen.
A Best of the Best award winner in the 2019 KAPP-KVEW Best Restaurant & Dessert poll, Miss Tamale and owner, Mark Whitten are serving up tamales that are made fresh daily to hordes of hungry customers. Offering bean and cheese, beef and cheese, chicken, pork or vegan, all are seasoned to perfection by Mark and his team of experts.
They are then swaddled in perfect, tamale-style corn husks before hitting the steamer. Make it a plate with rice, beans and chips and it’s guaranteed that nobody leaves hungry.
In addition to the excellent tamales, breakfast burritos, tacos, tortas, quesadillas and pozole are also creating a rumble throughout the culinary community and solidifying Miss Tamale a deserving spot on the Tri-Cities Tamale Trail.
A few miles south, in the heart of Kennewick, Paulina Perez is handcrafting her own authentic offerings at Hot Tamales. Paulina’s mother, known endearingly as Mama Lupe, grew up in Central-Western Mexico making tamales as a child. Luckily, for the community, Mama Lupe found her way to the Tri-Cities and continued making tamales for friends and family, and now, alongside Paulina, they have teamed up to share their savory and appetizing gifts with everyone.
At Hot Tamales, the belief is that handmade is the best and only way. The tamales are lard and gluten-free and are made from scratch daily. Tamales are sold by the half or full-dozen and delivery is even available! The chicken and pork tamales are infused with a mild red chili sauce, which is made from an all natural tomato salsa and an exotic blend of Mexican dried chilies. Rajas tamales are also available, which includes jalapeños, chili poblano, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
The filling of choice is carefully wrapped, then steamed with an overall result of tamale excellency that customers can’t seem to get enough of and the Hot Tamales drive-thru is becoming an exceedingly popular lunchtime stop by for many.
For a truly authentic and mouth-watering experience, a visit to Paulina and Mama Lupe at Hot Tamales is a guaranteed HOT stop on the Tri-Cities Tamale Trail.
Across the iconic blue bridge and through the dynamic and lively downtown Pasco, the County Mercantile sits about 10 miles north of the city center along Highway 395. Once a roadside fruit stand, the Mercantile has transformed into a local culinary mecca, serving thousands of locals and tourists every year and has become quite the Tri-Cities foodie destination, beaming out inviting rays of appetizing indulgences across the region.
Offering fresh fruits and vegetables of the season, homemade chocolates, giant caramel apples, candies of all colors, shapes and flavors, plus local gourmet foods, the Mercantile has also earned a deserving spot on the Tamale Trail with their ample selection of fresh tamales that are made in house by local experts.
Green Sauce Chicken, Authentic Beef or Pork, Veggie Medley and Cheesy Chicken are just a sampling of the flavors offered, and at the Mercantile, it’s buy 2, get the 3rd for free and they will even allow you to mix and match with their equally as delectable enchiladas and burritos!
The Mercantile also has an abundant array of housemade salsas that deserve a spot of their own on any Salsa Trail or in any guidebook devoted to legit salsas! A few bags of some crisp and fresh homemade tortilla chips complete the trip (for now) along the Tri-Cities Tamale Trail!
Time to Trailblaze
With Tamale Trailnotes in hand, it’s time to plan a trip to the Tri-Cities to obtain, firsthand, a bona fide and genuine tamale experience that is made possible by the seasoned experts scattered throughout the Tri-Cities.
Prepare to traverse the area, ravenous for not only unbeatable tamales and sides, but also for a journey filled with honest, humble people who are so grateful to those who choose to make the noble and undaunted quest across the Tri-Cities Tamale Trail.