Gardener's Feast - These delicious, flavor-filled, fluffy, moist tamales are our top pick. Sold individually at $3 each, the investment is worthwhile since they are twice the size of the average tamale (they offer a discount if you order a dozen). Plus there is the added benefit that these tamales are 100% organic (no GMOs), free of lard, preservatives, trans fats, and additives. Available online or at various farmers' market across the city, Gardener's Feast offers many varieties, such as prepared meat (we tried and loved the chicken mole and pork tomatillo pictured above), vegetarian, vegan and sweet fillings with two different kinds of natural wraps: corn husk or banana leaf. I know what you are thinking--no lard=dry tamale. Not the case here. They use a mix of vegetable zero transfat oils and I swear you will not miss the lard. See a recent article in Edible Austin on Adrian Paredes and Mariana Ibanez, owners of Gardner's Feast to learn more.
El Meson - El Meson on Burelson offers pork or rajas tamales. We tried the pork and thought the flavor of the filling was well balanced with the perfect amount of masa. If you order the tamales, they can bring them over to the S. Lamar location if that is more convenient.
Curra's Grill - Pork, chicken, bean, veggie and sweet are their standard tamale categories, available with corn or banana leaf husk. They also offer specialty tamales like mole, chicken green, crab, salmon, cheese panela with rajas, black bean and pinto bean with jalapeno. We tried the pork and were impressed with the large size of these tamales as well as the taste of the filling. The order came with a very large container of spicy salsa in case you need to add more spice.
Little Mexico- When I last tried these tamales, I appreciated their texture (moist, but not greasy) and their overall taste. The pork was tender with the right amount of spice. Order a few days in advance.
Dai Due - Not available at time of publication, these tamales have a reputation for being very high quality. Not sure if they are going to be available this year, but it would be worthwhile to periodically check their website to confirm one way or the other.