What: Oaxacan tamales—which you can find in all parts of the country, but are best, naturally, here—consist of masa (a mash made of ground corn soaked in water and lime), chicken, and mole negro wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. (This differs from some other Mexican tamales, which are wrapped in a corn husk.)
Where: Our favorite Oaxacan tamal was from a small puesto called Tamales Lety in Mercado de la Merced (Insurgentes betw. Murguía and Morelos, map).
When: Daily, 8am-1pm
Order: Lety’s tamal Oaxaqueño (18p) is so moist and flavorful, you’ll be hard-pressed not to order seconds. A-ma-zing. We also tried her dulce, or sweet, tamal (7p)—pineapple, in this case (flavors can vary). Wrapped in a corn husk, it was much drier, more like corn cake, with some red food coloring and bits of pineapple inside. Quite good, but we prefer the savory tamales (try the black bean tamal, too).
Alternatively: There are other tamal vendors in the markets, and they’re probably all pretty good. Don’t miss a street torta de tamal as well, which nestles the exquisite Oaxacan tamal into a soft roll.