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Eats Beat: It's that tamale time of the year

The most-talked-about little gourmet tamale shop in Fort Worth is growing.

Hot Damn, Tamales! will add a dining room and daily lunches -- but not until after the Christmas tamale orders are filled.

The Stavron family's stand on Magnolia Avenue will expand into the two spaces next door, adding burritos, chili and complete lunch plates, plus a meeting room for groups.

"Our customers say they want to sit down and have our tamales someplace quiet and quaint," matriarch Ione Stavron said.

"Some neighborhood groups want to meet here. We've always wanted to do more and be known for more than tamales."

The shop is still mostly known for its tenderloin-beer-and-jalapeño tamales, but other flavors include ancho pork loin, poblano chicken, mushroom and goat cheese, and the new spinach, feta and pine nuts.

They're not cheap, at $18-$28 per dozen, but they're not like anyone else's tamales.

The stand has a few tables and serves lunch daily. The new cafe will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays; 713 W. Magnolia Ave., 817-926-9909, www.hotdamntamales.com.

The annual Christmas tamale hunt isn't so tough anymore.

The arrival of Fiesta and Carnival supermarkets and chain restaurants such as Rosa's provide holiday tamales on almost every street corner.

But if you want to stage a tamale tasting, here are the old standbys:

Both Esperanza's Cafe & Bakery locations sell pork and chicken tamales daily for $9.25 per dozen. The North Main Street location will be open until 7 p.m. Christmas Eve (if any tamales remain); 2122 N. Main St. or 1601 Park Place Ave., www.joets.com.

Cardona Foods, in far north Fort Worth, near Saginaw, sells pork and beef tamales for $7.50 per dozen. Cardona's also has a lunch cafe weekdays inside a tamale and tortilla factory; 850 Meacham Blvd. at Farm Road 156. Store hours 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, cafe 11 a.m.-2 p.m., www.cardonafoods.com.

Marquez Bakery and Tortilla Factory in Arlington usually sells the most holiday tamales in Tarrant County. It has pork tamales only, $6.99 a dozen; open daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m. or later, Christmas Eve till 3 p.m., www.marquezbakery.com.

Fina's Tamales, 3432 Hemphill St. in Fort Worth, is a tiny hole-in-the-wall stand that has been selling tamales and tortillas for 60 years; $7.50 beef, $8.60 pork, open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays.

Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat appears Wednesdays in Your Life & Food and Fridays in Weekend. Facebook "Bud Kennedy's Eats Beat" Twitter @eatsbeat

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