Las Vegas Eats: Dona Maria’s Tamales Restaurant

Dona Maria’s Tamales Restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas. It’s been around since I was a kid, and has been a staple in my family’s history. My grandfather and great-uncle still visit the place when they’re in town; they always say their visits aren’t the same if they don’t. I’m hesitant to say it’s the best tamale I’ve ever had (nothing beats home-made) but it is pretty close.
There are two locations in Las Vegas, but the most accessible to tourists is the one in downtown Las Vegas. Located off of Charleston and Las Vegas Boulevard, the original Dona Maria’s is right in the heart of the downtown area. It’s accessible on foot if you’ve started your night elsewhere, but parking can be tricky if you miss the turn into the lot. If you are on foot I would recommend, if you’re in the area at night, to walk in a group. The area is generally pretty busy on the weekends, but it can get a little hairy if you’re not careful.
Obviously the best thing to get at Dona Maria’s is the tamales. My favorite is the red tamale (comes with beef), but you can also get green tamales (with chicken) and cheese tamales. They even serve dessert tamales with pineapple and raisin filling. They sell the tamales individually or in bulk, if you’ve got a big party to feed. They also serve American dishes, such as patty melts, hamburgers, and pancakes if you’re not feeling adventurous. Some other dishes I would recommend are the chile relleno, fideo soup and the carne asada tacos.
As far as dessert is concerned, you can’t go wrong with deep-fried ice cream. I also enjoy the sopapillas and flan, but the deep-fried ice cream is a must have. If those don’t sound appealing, they also serve plain ice cream and cheesecake.
Dona Maria’s is one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city. It may not be on the Las Vegas Strip, but it’s earned its place in the history of Las Vegas. In a city that is always changing, it has managed to maintain. I would even say you owe it to your trip to go to Dona Maria’s. You may come to Las Vegas for the alcohol, the nightclubs and the naked girls but…the tamales are magical.
What’s your favorite restaurant in your home town? How long has it been there?