This festive season, tamales are big business for Mexican restaurants

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Employees at Sal's Mexican restaurant in Selma are working day in and day out on their homemade chicken and pork tamales.

"This is tamale central this time of year. We are in production and taking orders for our famous Sal's tamales and this year we are up in numbers. Generally, we are producing 30,000 and this year we are at 38,000 tamales. We sold out last year," said Lorraine Salazar, Sal's Mexican restaurant co-owner.

The Selma location will make the tamales for their three restaurants. A dozen chicken or pork tamales cost $26.99.

Sales have gone up over the years and Salazar says she knows why.

"Everybody is busy. Doing tamales as a family truly takes time. Convenience is driving people to buy tamales or get their party trays or casseroles for their holiday celebration," Salazar said.

Over at Mi Panaderia La Michoacana in Central Fresno off Belmont, cooks are getting ready for their first Christmas in the new business.

They make traditional tamales but have been gaining a following for unique tamales like corundas.

"They round it up like a softball, that big, they dig in the middle of it and out refried beans, and then they close it and seal it up," said Jerry Gonzalez, Mi Panaderia la Michoacana co-owner.

Gonzalez says their corunda is wrapped with a banana leaf. Unlike tamales, it doesn't always have a filling. The corunda is common in Michoacan.

The shop also sells another unique corn tamale, "Tamaleote. It's a combination of tamal with elote."

The corn tamale is topped with corn, cotija cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.

"They like it. They have been coming back and getting some more, so I assume it's pretty good," Gonzalez said.

The store also plans to sell its homemade masa for those who want to make authentic tamales at home without spending hours mixing the mixture. A dozen tamales are being sold for $18.

Restaurants say they'll be selling tamales until Christmas Eve, but recommend you get your orders in early, before it's too late.
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