Indio's Famous Tamale Fest Is an Eating Wonderland

Try a host of husk-wrapped goodies at this celebrated snack-around.

DO YOU TAKE YOUR TAMALES NEAT? Or do you prefer a ladle or two of salsa, pico de gallo, green chile, or all of the above? As far as cuisine-based questions go, this one isn't all that controversial. What goes on top of a tempting tamale has much to do with the palate of the tamale enthusiast, as well as what might be inside the tamale in question. If it is already packed with carne asada or calabacitas or a couple of different cheeses, going salsa-less may be your preference. Hard to say before the moment you're ordering, of course, but the solution? Find a festival that has a lot of tamales. We mean A LOT, the sort of party that has booth after booth filled with rectangle-y, husk-wrapped, joy-delivering tamales. Then you can try some without the drizzled hot sauce, and some with, and know you've enjoyed a true gamut of offerings.

THE INDIO INTERNATIONAL TAMALE FESTIVAL... is the ultimate go-to for that gamut-y experience. It is, in fact, a famous food festival, one that has earned its appetizing accolades over the decades. "The world's largest tamale festival" returns on Dec. 7 and 8 with dozens of spots for tamale bliss. Vegetarian choices, cheese-filled temptations, and meaty favorites will be available for purchase. As for getting in? That's free, so you can keep your funds for the salsa-topping, 'male-marvelous eating part of the proceedings. A Best Tamale Contest is part of the weekend, as is a Kid Zone, live music, and other tamale-adjacent events. But you won't stray too far from the food, we imagine. After all, how often can we devour tamale after tamale after tamale, in just the way we like them? Cheers to you, Indio International, for this delicious December must.

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