Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are you retiring/closing?

A: It’s been an amazing 4 generation, 71 year journey for our family. We are tired; Isabel would like to retire after 50+ years of working, Tina is caring for Mama/Doña/Grandma Nati and Renee just completed graduate school. Time for us to put family first!

Q: How is Mama/Doña/Grandma Nati?

A: She is as happy and healthy as possible. She has shown us what true strength is and we want to spend as much time as possible with her.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for other businesses to purchase tamales, tortillas, chorizo, chile powder, etc?

A: Unfortunately, we don’t! Maybe Tina and Mama Tamale can take some field trips to find new spots?

Q: Is just La Borinqueña closing? How about Tina Tamale Catering and Special Events or La Snackeria?

A: La Borinquena as well as our family of brands are all retiring! La Borinquena and Tina Tamale are closed as of August 1, 2015. La Snackeria officially shuttered in June 2015.

Q: Any plans to open again in the future?

A: We currently have no plans and do not anticipate making any anytime soon. We need to take a deep breath and rest at this time! When/if we have any announcements, we will post to our websites and social media (Facebook, Twitter) @tamalegirl and @tinatamale

Q: We are so sad, aren’t you?

A: We are very sad! This has been very bittersweet for us both as a family and as independent business owners. We are happy to retire on our own terms and have more family time but are going to miss everyone. Thank you for your support over the years!

Q: Why don't you serve Puerto Rican food?
A: Our founder's husband was originally from Puerto Rico, hence the name La Borinquena. Rosa Velasquez was from Jalisco, Mexico and ran her business as a tienda Mexicana.
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Q: When should I place my tamale and/or food order for Christmas week?
A: We start accepting orders right around Thanksgiving. The cut off is generally 7 to 10 days BEFORE Christmas. Orders may be placed by phone or in person as long as you have a pickup date and time and know what you would like to order.
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Q: Why place my Christmas order so early?
A: By placing your order early we can guarantee availability. We sell over one thousand dozens of tamales Christmas week alone! When we make a promise, we keep it! Order early!
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Q: What is the best way to reheat cooked tamales?
A: Depending on quantity of tamales use a pot, stock pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. You will also need a steamer rack, metal colander or aluminum pie plate with holes poked through. You may also use a rice cooker with a steamer rack.

Fill pot with one or two inches of water and insert steamer rack. If using colander or pie plate invert (upside-down) before placing in pot. Keep folded end of husk under so that it rests against the side of the tamale with a seam. Place tamales against each other like dominos that have fallen over. Place pot on high flame uncovered until water is at a roaring boil. Place a tight fitting lid on pot and reduce flame to simmer (low).

Steam refrigerated tamales for approx. 60 minutes. Frozen tamales (raw OR pre-cooked) need to be steamed approx. 90 minutes. Check to make sure water does not dry out and add more if necessary. The tamales are cooked when the husk separates from the masa (dough) and are no longer sticky. If reheating pre-cooked tamales make sure they are heated through to the center.
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Q: How long do tamales keep?
A: In the refrigerator, tamales keep for up to a week. In the freezer, they keep up to four months.
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Q: Can I re-heat tamales in the microwave?
A: It can be done, but we don't recommend it. The microwave tends to dry the tamale out and make it hard.
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Q: Do I need to order masa in advance?
A: During most of the year one day advance order is necessary. We make our masa on site fresh to order. Christmas week masa is generally available before 12pm on a walk-in basis. Please call 510.444.9954 for more information.
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Q: How do I figure out how much masa to order to make tamales?
A:Here are some formulas to help you!
15 lbs = 100 Commercial Size Tamales (Approx. 8dz)
5 lbs = Approx 35 Tamales


LBS of Meat (Adjust for cooking shrinkage and bones)
X 2
= LBS of Masa Batida

10LBS of Pork Butt
Becomes 8 lbs Cooked Meat
8 X 2 = 16lbs Masa Batida

1 LB Hojas (Dried Corn Husks) per 10 LBS Masa Batida

To Prepare Plain Corn Dough ( Masa sin Preparar/Sencilla) for Tamales
It will break or burn out! Must be mixed by hand! Or better yet purchase it already mixed!
Plain Masa once mixed GROWS by a couple of LBS (5LBS Plain becomes 7 LBS Mixed)

5 LBS Plain Masa (Sencilla)
1 LB Fat (Lard, Butter, Margarine or Crisco)
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
Salt to Taste
Liquid (Warm Soup Stock or Water) to make consistency like cake frosting, not too thick or too loose

If using DRY Corn Flour (Maseca or Masa-Mixta Brands)
1 Cup Flour add 1 Cup Warm to make Plain Corn Dough once you make amount needed use formula above

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Q: How long will masa batida keep?
A: Masa Batida or mixed masa for tamales must be refrigerated sine it does not have preservatives. Place in a bowl or other container and do not cover! The masa must be able to breathe. It will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator or can be frozen. If the masa is too stiff to work with add warm water or stock/broth until you reach the consistency you prefer.
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Q: Where can I purchase other items I need to make tamales?
A: Here at La Borinquenña you may purchase hojas (corn or paper), dried chile pods and chile powder. Please check in with our specialty shop for these items.
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Q: What items have lard?
A: Our pork tamales, chicken tamales, sweet tamales, refried beans, tortilla chips, and taco and tostada shells are all made with lard. If you want to avoid lard, please feel free to ask if your order will contain any items with lard.
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Q: Do you have tamales without lard?
A: Yes, we make two meat product free tamales. Our Veggie tamale and Green Chile with Cheese tamale do not contain meat or lard. Please see menus for descriptions and pricing.
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