This local chain got its start in 1981, and the menu has gotten huge over the years, with offerings ranging from shrimp cocktail to Mexican egg rolls as well as a long list of burritos and tacos. But the real draw is the tamales, corn-wrapped packets filled with a classic blend of pork and green chiles that come out of the steamer so fresh and hot you'll fear third-degree burns. Fans of the place don't mind playing with fire, though: The parking lots and plastic booths of all the Tamale Kitchen outlets are almost always packed. For tamales, Tamale Kitchen could be the masa of the universe.
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During my many trips to Tamales Moreno, I couldn't help but wonder about all the crowds packing into Tamale Kitchen right across the street. What was I missing? One day last week, I decided to find out. It was lunchtime, and the box...