Tamales El Patio: Shady Restaurant of the Month

by | October 13, 2009 | 31 Comments


Tamales El Patio

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3421 SW 29th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73119

Editor’s note: This is the final post written by Andrew Littleton, the founder of our Shady Restaurant series. Andrew wrote this before he left town but I have waited until now to publish it so that it will still seem like he is here. Enjoy his farewell words and a final tasty find.

By now the word is out that my days as shady writer for eataroundokc.com have come to an end.  I have decided it would be fitting to end my shady posts where I started them — on SW 29th street, almost literally next door to Sydney’s, the one that started it all.

Exterior of Tamales El Patio in Oklahoma City

This review is about the best Mexican-style tamales in town.  I say that with absolutely no reservations. No “I think,” no “possibly,” — absolutely no trepidation.  I speak with confidence because I believe I have eaten at every authentic-ish Mexican restaurant on the south side of Oklahoma City and, unfortunately, at my fair share of Okla-Mex places in town as well.

Before I get to talking about Tamales, I would like to offer a brief homage to SW 29th street.

Ever since the day I had a $3 breakfast for lunch at Sydney’s and helped to unplug the fan so they could plug in the cash register to complete my purchase, I fell in love with this stretch of road.  Sure, there have been moments of fear. Like the time the drug dealer dudes started ramming their $40,000 tricked-out Cadillacs like they were bumper cars. Or, the time the meth lady accused me of stealing her car (my custom Volkswagen Beetle) and then chased me back to my office. Or, of course, the time I ate at the Golden Touch Grill.  But those moments are fleeting as I think of all the great food.  Flautas and enchiladas at Los Desvelados, dollar tacos at Max Burger, the burger I got carded to eat at the place that turned out to be a shady beer bar, and the time my friend Dirk nearly died from the heat after shouting “muy caliente el diablo!” about how hot he wanted his pork chile verde from the place across the street from Los Desvelados.

Yes, I have many fond memories of SW 29th street, and I leave you with one final recommendation.

Tamales may well have a more complete name, but I’m not sure (editor’s update: since the time of publication, we have learned the official name of this restaurant is actually “Tamales El Patio”). There is a bit of a language barrier.  I asked once what hours they were open and got a “yes we are open, you like tamales?”  To which I replied, “As a matter of fact I do!”  So this I know — they are open seven days a week for lunch and at least until 6 or 7 or so.  I say this 6 or 7 deal because I have sent many people there after work to take a dozen home for dinner.  These tamales pair especially well with the marinated flank steak you can purchase at the mercado across the street if you want a complete meal.  They also serve menudo on the weekends.  I bet it’s awesome, but I haven’t tried it.

The menu consists of tamales, chocolate covered bananas (with sprinkles), and nachos.  They also serve raspados (Mexican snow cones).  I have only had the tamales, so you will have to supply your own reviews the other other offerings in the comments. I’m not big on raspudas or chocolate covered bananas, sprinkles or no sprinkles.

You order your tamales by the dozen, spicy or . . . uhm . . . not spicy. A dozen tamales costs $13. The spicy pack a punch, as they are full of chopped jalapenos, but they are, by far, my favorite.  These tamales are silky, moist, perfectly steamed, and by no means dried-out gritty corn mush pockets like you would get at most places in town.  In fact, I have had many people who don’t even like tamales say these are great.  The problem is, these people probably had their first and only tamale experience from Taco Bueno.

Take my advice, block out past memories of fast food tamales and Okla-Mex tamales, go get a dozen of these, take them back to work (they will stay hot, trust me), and go change the lives of your co-workers.  They really are that good. I work with a large number of people from Austin who swear there is nothing close to these down there, and they are a good seven hours closer to Mexico than us.  The door to the back room is usually cracked open where you can see a lady with a stack of corn husks rolling up and steaming them as fast as she can go.  It may bring tears to your eyes, but fight through the emotions and yell out, “One dozen tamales . . . uh . . . spicy!”  It works every time.

Well, there’s not much more to say about Tamales El Patio, so let me just say this. It’s been awesome, and humbling, to see how our shady reviews have changed the dynamic of these deserving restaurants and brought them patrons that might have never ventured into them before.  I have had owners of a few of these places come out and give me hugs. I’ve seen the comments as our faithful readers give great feedback on these shady wonders. Recently, I’ve even seen a couple of these spots hit the national food scene on TV.  The only negative has been watching some of my favorite spots become so popular that they are hard to get into now.

Thanks, Oklahoma City, for all the shady memories. I can’t wait to hear what you all think about Tamales.  While Nashville has a great meat and three, spicy chicken, and soul food scene, there is no replacing the Mexican and South American food scene we have here in OKC. So keep them busy for me while I’m away, and  if you are ever in Nashville, I’ll meet you for some hot chicken.

Tamales on Urbanspoon

More Photos from Tamales El Patio

Exterior at Tamales El Patio Oklahoma CityTamales at Tamales El Patio Oklahoma City

This article was posted by Andrew Littleton on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009. It is filed under:

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  • isaac says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 7:24 am   

    I go on saturday and get tamales and my daughter gets a chocolate banana, extra sprinkles. Great place!!

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 7:59 am   

    When I was going to school I delivered tortillas for Nino’s. One of the places I delivered to was a shady little restaurant called Pablo’s near SE 15th and I-35.

    Pablo’s is no longer there but Pablo turned me on to several authentic Mexican dishes, one of which was tamales made by a little old Mexican woman that lived near his restaurant.

    She made them at home and I never asked what was in those DELICIOUS tamales but as long as Pablo’s was there I would go over at Christmas time and get 4 dozen of those incredible tamales.

    I sure hope these tamales are as good as the ones I remember from many years ago because I’ll be going by Tamales later this week and giving them a try.

  • Greg says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 8:43 am   

    We’ll miss you, Andrew. Thanks for leaving us with a good one!

  • Sam says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 8:57 am   

    FINALLY! Can’t wait to finally go check this out. Hope you’re having fun out there in Nashville.

  • JuJuBeans says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 10:19 am   

    Have a nice trip, and again.. thanks for the review~

  • Wimpy says:
    October 14th, 2009 at 11:52 am   

    I’ve been going here sice last summer, great tamales, I think now you have to buy a dozen at a time, but that’s no problemo!!

  • Katie says:
    October 14th, 2009 at 12:35 pm   

    Thanks for all the great restaurants, Andrew! I hope someone takes up your passion for the Shadier places here. I ate at Tamales last night and have to completely agree with your recommendation. I’m from West Texas and these are the best tamales I’ve ever eaten. Brought some to coworkers today at lunch and they agree as well.

    We’ll miss you!

  • dustbury.com » Reader’s digestion says:
    October 15th, 2009 at 6:55 am   

    [...] Littleton is moving to Nashville, but one thing he’ll never forget about Oklahoma City is the “authentic-ish” Mexican joints along SW 29th Street: Ever since the day I had a $3 breakfast for lunch at Sydney’s and helped to unplug the fan [...]

  • Kevin says:
    October 16th, 2009 at 12:41 pm   

    Nice to have another shady moment via Andrew.
    Gotta go try it.

  • Martha says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 12:19 am   

    I can’t wait to try it.

  • Bizzle says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 2:38 pm   

    I just finished eating a tamale and I must say this is the best tamale I’ve had in Okc They are fabulous…even if I’m unsure of whether they are chicken or pork tamales. Get the spicy!

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    October 22nd, 2009 at 5:42 pm   

    Stopped and got a dozen spicy and a choco-banana on the way home from work….. All I can say is….


    I also noticed that there is some work going being done on a building at 44th and May (Across the street from the Los Tacos) and the sign said Tamales.

    Anyone know if this is being done by the same people?

  • kim says:
    October 23rd, 2009 at 6:34 pm   

    Thank you so much! Just got 4 doz spicy for tomorrow night’s pre-skeleton march tailgate party and we have already blown through a few. These truely are the best tamales and they are HOT!

  • Rick says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 12:51 am   

    Andrew,you will be missed.. so many great discoveries you’ve treated us to..
    Tamales is one we already had under the belt, highly recommended.

  • Sam says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 10:50 am   

    Just bought my first dozen, and this was indeed good. Brought it to work today and EVERYONE loved them! I think they actually tasted better the day after.

  • Desiree says:
    February 12th, 2010 at 11:56 am   

    YUMMMMMY! Thank you so much for recommending this place! I got a dozen “spicy” and a dozen cheese & jalapeno. My boyfriend prefered the regular spicy tamales but I actually liked the cheese and jalapeno…but be warned LOTS of jalapeno.
    I sent my step-father up to get some (after I raved about them at the weekly family dinner) and he also said they had a larger selection that day than just “spicy or uhm….not spicy” and, of course, he thought they were fantastic as well.
    Thanks Andrew for a great review! Good luck!

  • Randy OKC says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 4:33 pm   

    I’ve been going to Tamales now for about 5 months. I usually try to hit it once a week or every other week at least for lunch take-out. When I annouce at work that I’m making a tamale run I usually end up getting at least 2-3 dozen. These are the best tamales in town bar none. I feed a very descriminating crowd from all over the west and southwest. They love them and buy them by the dozens to take home. Tamales also serves burritos for lunch. (Cheese and jalapeno tamales are only available on WED/SAT so plan accordingly.) The place is very spartan and they have a very limited menu and no place to sit and dine. The ladies that run the place are absolute sweethearts and take their trade seriously and it shows.
    The carneceria across the street is also very good. Carneceria el Rodeo has great meat. When I go there I usually get 5lbs of their marinated skirt steak and 5lbs of their marinated sliced short ribs. We grill the skirt steak for fajitas and it is awesome. We grill the sliced short ribs and serve them with rice and beans. The people at el Rodeo are very nice and they will get an english speaking person to help you if you are a “no-hablo” like me. My kids and I love their Carne Seca (beef jerky) it’s very tasty and very reasonable at 12.99 a pound.

  • Randy OKC says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 4:53 pm   


    You can stop by Tamales for lunch and get less than a dozen tamales. I have ordered 4 just for myself before with no problem. 4 seems to be a good number for a big guy like me. They pan out to be about $1 each. The spicy chicken can be very spicy based on the jalapenos they are using. I have had extremely hot chicken tamales and just hot chicken tamales. The red pork tamales are very flavorful but just a little on the spicy side. They are always consistant. I’ve never had the cheese and jalpeno because I have never been there on WED or SAT. I hear they are awesome though.
    The lady at tamales told me that she cooks these just like she would for her family. I think that say’s a lot.

  • TxOkie says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 2:46 pm   

    I just stumbled unto this website today & thanks for being here.I haven’t been able to find good tamales here in Okc.My wife & I are from San Antonio & they have a few great tamale places but the best tamales are home-made.We have to try this place you mentioned–Tamales–by the comments on here it sounds pretty good.

  • TxOkie says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 1:22 pm   

    My wife & I live in Edmond & stumbled unto a great restaurant(hole in the wall) on 2nd St. The name of the restaurant is –Carnitas Michoacan.We were hungry last night & were gonna get some pizza but we saw the sign & thought we would try it.My wife was tired & waited for me in the car & I ordered a to-go menu.The moment I walked into the place I got a whiff of the delicious enticing smell.We’re from San Antonio & dislike some of the ingredient’s in the mexican food here(you can smell it_ & I walk out when I smell it but this place actually smelled very good.They don’t have a written menu on paper, the menu is on the board & you pick what you want from there. I ordered the Chicken gorditas for my wife & the barbacoa tortas for myself & hoped the food was as good as it smelled when we got home.My wifes gorditas were excellent. The chicken actually had a lot of flavor(not blah) & my tortas were very good & filled with beef, I almost couldn’t finish it all but I did.All of that food for only $7.50(you can’t beat that),a bargain for the tasty food we received.I recommend this place if you all are ever in Edmond. I have to check out some other places recommended on this site. By the way I just stumbled unto this site a couple of day’s ago & wish I would have known about it before—it makes it easier for us to chose some hidden places.

  • Don says:
    August 8th, 2010 at 11:27 am   

    The actual name of the place is “Tamales El Patio.” They now have a website, http://www.okctamales.com. And yes, they are the best!

  • Tim says:
    August 9th, 2010 at 6:22 am   

    Don, thanks for the update! I’ve changed the name in our post ad listed the website as well. Awesome.

  • Holley says:
    October 31st, 2010 at 2:34 pm   

    A fellow diner at Abel’s on S May suggested I go to the parking lot of a bank in Capitol Hill to buy tamales out of the bank of a guy’s pickup truck. When I got to the bank, I asked a guy selling ice cream out of a cart about the tamales. He suggested I go to Tamales Patio.

    Best wild goose chase for food ever!

    My mom and I left with a dozen tamales of different varieties. My favorite variety is stuffed with cheese and green chilies. They only make the cheese kind a few days a week.

    I was skeptical. Cheese filled tamales I have eaten in the past tasted like mush. These tamales are full of flavor and so large they require two corn husks to hold them together.

    Coupled with Abel’s special avocado salsa, they are amazing.

  • allison says:
    February 6th, 2011 at 12:29 pm   

    El Patio has the best Jalepeno and cheese “rajas con queso” tamales. Portioned just right and spicy HOT. Good place to pick some up and take home to share with family and friends!!!! Not to mention my favorite “Durango” two doors down to the east. They have great Gorditas as well with “Rajas con queso” they are to die for!!!! On the weekends there are a few Mobile taco stands we visit frequently on the east corner of agnew and 29th called “la Pila” they have fried gorditas and great carne asada tacos, not to mention the green and red chile burritos that are spicy but not too spicy for my 3 year old to eat…..

  • Tim says:
    February 7th, 2011 at 10:11 am   

    Finally tried this place for the first time. Picked up a dozen chicken spicy and 1/2 dozen pork for $20 even. These were our Superbowl snacks. As expected, everything was great. This place is a true gem. Service was super friendly and prompt and the tamales were tasty. So easy to get to as well, just a couple blocks west of I-44.

    They’ve even fancied up the exterior a bit. I’ll be updating the picture soon.

  • KC says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm   

    Yep, I have to agree w/ Andrew on this one – best mexican-style tamales in the metro. These tamales are so good that, if this place served just the steamed masa by itself, I would buy those.

    It’s a shame there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to the sparce few items on the menu. I’m sure I’ll break down and try something else besides the tamales one of these days.

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    May 2nd, 2011 at 12:56 pm   

    I agree KC…. I don’t let any of that tasty masa go to waste on the husks. I don’t know what they are adding to it or what they are steaming it over but it is the best tasting masa I’ve ever had.

  • LORENA says:
    December 19th, 2012 at 12:13 pm   

    Thanks to the Shady review I dared try this place and it didn’t disappoint. I put in my order for Christmas and can’t wait to dig into it.
    I also want to say to the previous comments, that the reason for the limited number of menu options is probably quality. Tamales is what they do and they do it right. Why mess with perfection? Tamales take so much work and time, other stuff would just make the place chaotic, they would need another kitchen.
    I’m just happy this place exists. Now I can have my tamal and eat it too!

  • Billy says:
    March 2nd, 2013 at 10:02 am   

    The temales there are the best around. When you go also order a large Elotes. The elotes is sooooo good!!

  • Richard says:
    April 18th, 2013 at 1:02 pm   

    This restaurant is the best in town! The food here is freaking astonishing. No tamales compare! This employee up there gave my starving family a free dozen tamales to feed my children. My children call him “el amigo” :)

  • Oscar Rios says:
    April 18th, 2013 at 1:03 pm   

    Its really good place they indeed have the best tamales they have this deal on the last 10 minutes of closing time every saturday (closing time 9pm) they give out free Tamales and Nachos you got to love this place!!!!!

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