While most Americans know hot tamales only as the cinnamon-flavored candy counterpart to Mike and Ikes, for Latino families, it wouldn’t be the holidays without homemade tamales. At Macarena’s Mexican Grill, tucked away in Longwood, everyone celebrates. Making authentic tamales is time-consuming: Cornmeal is mixed with lard and stuffed with braised, spiced, shredded pork, wrapped in a dried cornhusk and steamed. Covered in spicy enchilada sauce and cheese, they are worth a good nosh, and Macarena’s is a good place to start.

One of the few Orlando-area restaurants to offer tamales on the menu, let alone make them in-house, Macarena’s serves up three of the pillowy cornmeal concoctions with rice and beans for a mere $7.50. Their melt-in-your-mouth tamales are delicate and comforting, though slightly lacking in stuffing.

The only thing better than a white Christmas is a red, white and green Christmas, so try a plateful – with one of the 25 cervezas that Macarena’s stocks, or horchata ($1.75), an aromatic beverage made from rice and flavored with cinnamon and vanilla – because, let’s face it, none of us are going to see any snow.

(Macarena’s Mexican Grill, 1150 W. State Road 434, Longwood; 407-834-5002)


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