In case you missed that tamale party earlier in the week and have not thought ahead about the all-important, must-have food item for a San Francisco Christmas, here are some good bets for grabbing some masa and/or ready-made tamales today. Beware, especially on 24th Street, there will be lines.

Learn a bit more about tamales and their role in Mexican celebrations here.


La Palma Mexicatessen
For decades La Palma has been the go-to for fresh masa in the Mission, not to mention their delicious tortillas and housemade tamales. And as Mission Local notes today (along with a homemade tamale recipe), La Palma also sells "masa preparada" which already has the lard, salt, and baking powder mixed in, to make your first try at tamale-making a little easier.
2884 24th Street at Florida

La Oaxaquena Bakery and Restaurant
In Oaxaca they wrap tamales in banana leaves, which is something you'll see elsewhere in Central America, but La Oxaquena makes tamales the traditional way with corn husks too. They make some mean mole sauce here, which you will want a bucket of, and they offer tamales with chicken, pork, tofu, or spinach and cheese, And if you're buying in bulk, you may want to call in your order ahead at 415-621-5446.
2128 Mission Street near 17th

Pancho Villa
If you're looking for a quick, ready-made solution to your tamale craving, Pancho Villa on 16th makes some perfectly serviceable, delicious tamales, and there's that whole salsa bar with which to top them. And if you're feeling really lazy, you can just order up some tamale dinners on Grub Hub and call it a day.
3071 16th Street near Valencia

Green Chile Kitchen
Things are more gringo-fied and New Mexican at this NoPa neighborhood joint, but everything is delicious, especially the pork and chicken tamales with some of their green tomatillo salsa. And, yes, they've got online ordering too on their website, via ChowNow.
1801 McAllister Street

For future (because tamales can be enjoyed through the whole season, and are traditionally served through Epiphany on Jan. 6): Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas (@ La Cocina, 2948 Folsom Street near 25th, closed until Dec. 28)

Photo: Yelp