Hot Tamale Trail

Hot Tamale Trail

In Latin America, hot tamales are as ubiquitous as the sandwich. This holds true in, of all places, the Mississippi Delta. Better known for its association with cotton and catfish, the Mississippi Delta has a fascinating relationship with tamales. In restaurants, on street corners, and in kitchens throughout the Delta, this very old and time-consuming culinary tradition remains vibrant. But how and when were hot tamales introduced to what has been called “the most Southern place on earth”? And why have they stayed? There are as many answers to those questions as there are tamale recipes. Oral history interviews with tamale makers and vendors in the Delta today offer us some answers. They reveal the various ways in which tamale recipes have been acquired and how they have evolved, helping to explain the persistence of hot tamales in the Mississippi Delta.


READ MORE about the history of tamales in the Mississippi Delta in our introduction, Hot Tamales & The Mississippi Delta.

Go here, for a MAP of Tamale Trail vendors and locations. You might also want to download our iPhone app SFA Stories.

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Together with Viking Range Corporation, we created the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail in an effort to document the history, tradition, and culture of hot tamales from Tunica to Vicksburg, offering cultural tourists a complete guide to a unique culinary experience. So head to the Mississippi Delta, which has been called “the most Southern place on earth” for its unique history, music, culture, and yes, its food.

Grab a shuck and go!



Abe’s Bar-B-Q

Abe’s Bar-B-Q has been in business in the same location since 1937. Pat Davis, Sr. remembers Mexican vendors peddling hot… Read More…

Grapeland Grill a.k.a. Airport Grocery - Tamara Calhoun - MS - Tamale Trail

Airport Grocery

When he opened the restaurant in 1992, Jonathan wanted to honor the Delta hot tamale tradition. His grandfather was a… Read More…

Geno Lee_portrait_cropped

Big Apple Inn

Geno Lee is the fourth-generation owner of the Big Apple Inn. His great-grandfather, Juan “Big John” Mora, who was born… Read More…

The Bourbon Mall - Mark Azlin - MS - Tamale Trail

Bourbon Mall

The Bourbon Mall is a favorite haunt for many. But it’s the hot tamales the really set the place apart.… Read More…

Delta Fast Food - Gentle Lee Rainey - MS - Tamale Trail

Delta Fast Food

Gentle Lee Rainey was born on Dockery Plantation, a few miles east of Cleveland, Mississippi. Dockery, the one time home… Read More…


Doe’s Eat Place

For generations, tamale cravings have been satisfied by coffee cans filled with hot tamales passing out those doors. Today, Doe… Read More…

Ervin's Hot Tamales - Rosetta and Edna Ervin - MS - Tamale Trail

Ervin’s Hot Tamales

Rosetta Ervin’s late husband, Louis Ervin, grew up in Tunica County, Mississippi, and learned about hot tamales from a local… Read More…

Reno's Cafe - Pearl Johnson - MS - Tamale Trail

Reno’s Cafe

Pearl’s tamales are different from most Delta-style tamales. She cooks and serves them in a tomato-based sauce. When asked if… Read More…

Joe Pope_In Memoriam

XTRAS: In Memoriam

In December 2004, revered hot tamale cook and vendor Joe Pope of Rosedale, Mississippi, passed away. He embodied the history… Read More…