Top 10 Restaurants in EaDo (a.k.a. Old Chinatown, a.k.a. East Downtown)
6. Alamo Tamale
Photo by Troy Fields Alamo's tamales.
Alamo isn't much to look at -- from the inside or the outside, save a pleasant-enough side patio that was added in recent years -- and its machine-made tamales are pretty par for the course. But its homemade tortillas and hand-rolled tamales are out of this world. The tamales are perfectly plump and filled with just the right amount of savory pork (because no one needs chicken tamales; stop it). The important masa-to-meat ratio is always precise here, with the meat incredibly moist and well-seasoned. You won't need any of the incredibly benign salsa that's served alongside your tamales, owing to the grease that seeps out from the filling (which, at times, can be a little on the heavy side -- but it's a price we're willing to pay). Order ahead by the dozen, or you'll be stuck eating whatever's on the steam table if you simply show up for lunch.
Sparkle's is known for its popular hamburgers, famous shakes and a long, long wait. Regulars know to call ahead before even setting out for the Third Ward burger shack, and you'd do well to listen to their advice. Not your standard burger stand burger, Sparkle's beef patties are much, much larger than you might expect, and maybe that's what takes them so long to cook. Also available are french fries, onion rings, chicken-n-waffles, and Kool-Aid (for a dollar). To-go orders only: There's no indoor seating available, and outdoor seating is limited to a picnic table that looks ready to give way in the next strong breeze.
4. Brothers Taco House
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Lunchtime tacos at Brothers.
Although some people are huge fans of Brothers' daily lunch specials, the breakfast tacos are equally notable. On a hot griddle behind the steam table, you can see a lineup of ladies making the fluffy flour tortillas (and only flour; no corn here) fresh as you order. And from the belly of the kitchen, you can hear an anvil chorus of line cooks chopping and hacking meat apart to fill the metal bins on the steam table with carnitas, lengua, chicharrones, deshebrada and -- on the weekends -- barbacoa. The chicharrones are stewed in a mild red sauce that's enhanced with the addition of some of Brothers' flavorful green salsa, but the lengua requires no additional accouterments at all.