Hot Tamales ~ Delicious Family History

Mamma. OMG, did she ever love Hot Tamales. There was good reason though. Bruno Mancha brought the best hot tamales on the face of the earth to Birmingham, Alabama, I’ll bet it could be close to 100 years ago.

We need pictures of Mancha’s on 20th Street South. Pictures of the Tamale push carts and the carts set up with a bicycle attached for mobility.

I’ll bet there is somebody in Birmingham still making hot tamales, do tell me if there is. I did find a place to buy them online and yes they are great. I wanted an “I Remember Mamma” treat. If you are so inclined to buy food off the internet then the tamale in a corn husk is available at Lone Star Tamales. I have not tried their sauces yet to go with them – but the beef tamale was wonderful – just like childhood.

But – home and Mamma and Mancha’s. I wish we could find the recipe for the Mancha’s sauces. There was the yum red sauce, not hot, not overly spicy, and it didn’t drown out the flavor of the corn masa wrap and melting beef filling. I am sure there were others sauces, a ??? yellow sauce? ??? a green sauce? I am not sure. Anyway I miss the tamales and Mamma.

Mamma worked until she had a stroke, waiting tables for 40 years and then working parts and shipping in a wholesale hardware company, Long Lewis Hardware. The stroke was not because of hard work but soon after being hit in the head again with the fist of her last husband. The mean one that called her his squaw. But hot tamales was Mamma’s comfort food and more than once I got her some just to make her smile.

We all loved hot tamales. There were a few places around Birmingham, every corner of the grid, radiating out from South Side where you could find the hot tamale vendors. If memory serves, one on North Side off Finley Avenue, one on the west side, near the ice house in Ensley, one out Eastlake way and in South Side but I am not sure where.

Wrapped in newspaper.

On a busy night it was curb service and someone came to the window. If you were known like Philip and Mamma, the man would come to the window with the newspaper like a big plate and two tamales in the center to munch on while your order was prepared. How many dozen did you want?

match book adrey mbc571837a

Elias Adrey’s sandwich shop just off 5 Points South circle. My stepfather had grown up in the restaurant business and he taught me the restaurant business.

But for hot tamales, it was my favorite stepfather who was, before the hurricane, kind and very good to, and for, everyone. (After the hurricane, when he had lost everything, he slowly drank himself to death.) He and his family had been in the restaurant business in Alabama about the same length of time as the Mancha’s, and everybody knew each other. The immigrant and mostly Catholic world of the step-families was quite the contrast to most of my paternal line. Paw’s liberalism, compared to my paternal grandmother (also called Mamma)’s utter conservative and bigoted outlook, added to my confusion about what was supposed to be, and who to emulate, and how to get along. But Philip and many among his family and friends showed me a wonderful world. Another Birmingham.

If there was something good to eat in Jefferson County, Alabama, Philip not only knew where, he knew the people.

phillip adrey and cherie 1986

(My stepfather Philip and me in 1986). It was a hot tamales run in Birmingham one Saturday night, that got Philip and I pulled over for “driving too slow”. He was driving, I was about 12. There were a couple of times he was stopped for moving violations, I have written about them in other tales. He was brown enough to be a target to be pulled over in 1960s Alabama. Him being pulled over, justified, and unjustified, and how he was treated, was a lesson for me about “bad people”. He was always treated “less than” when he was spoken to by authorities. It always broke my heart for him.

I hope someone will send pictures of Mancha’s that I can use, and pictures of hot tamale carts that are also free for me to use. I need to write a memory of the Manchas and a few other Birmingham families.

I have wonderful memories of Birmingham and of days gone by.

Does anyone know of places you can still buy homemade hot tamales?

This link is not monetized. But I doubt there will be enough clicks to keep me from going hungry 🙂

lone star tamales

Seems they have their own friends of page group on Facebook

updated December 1, 2021 to remove discount code from 2019.

9 thoughts on “Hot Tamales ~ Delicious Family History

    • Tommy, going to your parents house for Christmas (and other holidays) was one of the thrills of my childhood. I will never forget, you used to take home movies and everyone was together and happy and enjoying the love of family. Everyone welcomed me from the start and I so adored Philip, It was like I finally had my own family. Thank you for posting! email me through the service and then I can send you my email address. I don’t have many pictures, but I can look for more.


  1. Pingback: Super Bowl ~ Chili and Chips, Cold Ones and Guacamole, and of course – Hot Tamales | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

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