That’s a Wrap!

Campos grinding chileCampos Grinding CornChef sharpening volcanic stonesGiant SteamerPork Filling For TamalesSalsas and TamalesTamales1

MARGARET ARNOLD, Staff Writer

12:33 pm | December 12, 2013


In Southern California, Christmas means tamales. Local restaurants are cranking out thousands and thousands of them. At Mijares, however, tamales rock year-round.

But it’s at Christmas time when the molino stone grinder really sees some action. Special flavors dominate the holidays. This year there’s a chicken mole tamale, with the complex, savory flavor of chocolate mixed with garlic, a host of spices and a variety of chilies. If that isn’t enough tamale for you, there is also a sweet tamale made with cinnamon and fruit.

For the purists, there’s a festive pork tamale with red chile, a chicken and vegetable tamale, and, for those who like food that bites back when bitten into, a roasted poblano chile and cheese tamale.

Familia is the reason for Mijares’ unique tamales. Mijares started life in 1920 as a tamale and tortilla factory on South Fair Oaks. Jesucita Mijares used a molino to turn corn kernels into masa (dough). Family lore has it that the Mijares matriarch actually carried her stone grinder with her as she fled the Mexican Revolution.

Jesucita Mijares eventually made a new home in Pasadena, and she introduced the Red New Mexican Chile Pork Tamale, with Christmas-colored chilies from Hatch, New Mexico, to an appreciative and hungry Southern California audience.

Today, Mijares, under the guidance of R-lene De Lang, Jesucita Mijares’ granddaughter, eschews modern machinery in favor of the molino and passes up flours in favor of traditional masa. The red chile tamale enjoyed at Mijares today, is made much the way Jesucita Mijares did it 93 years ago–with one key difference. The restaurant stopped using lard 25 years ago, so its tamales are healthful, and very, very light. All the better to save room for that dessert tamale.

No time for dinner? Tamales are available onsite by the dozen.

Mijares is at 145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena, and 1806 East Washington Street, Pasadena. www.MijaresRestaurant.com. (626) 794-6674.