Arriving at Solly’s Hot Tamales on Washington Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Mr. Taco Traveler and I wondered if maybe we had gotten some bad information about where to find good tamales. From the outside, it looks like a pretty serious dive. We should know by now not to judge a place by it’s outside appearance! Knowing we were going to be driving through Mississippi on the tail end of our vacation, I knew we needed to try some of the oddly well know hot tamales in Mississippi. We’re from Texas, where tamales make perfect sense. But in Mississippi? We were wondering what all the fuss could be about.
The menu, a photocopy taped to the ordering window, didn’t seem like very much. Tamales by the half dozen or dozen, chili burgers and chili dogs, tamale burritos and a Fiesta, whatever that was. Mr. Taco Tamale Traveler started reading the menu. I just asked what was good, “besides the tamales, obviously.” I was told the Fiesta was a speciality at Solly’s so we quickly decided on a half dozen tamales and a fiesta. We were asked if we wanted crackers. We didn’t know why we needed them but we said sure since they apparently go with tamales somehow.
The food was on the table within three minutes. When we commented that it was such quick service we were told they get up at 4am and start cooking so even when you show up at 11am, as we did, things are pretty much ready to go.The fiesta is sort of like tamale nachos, with three tamales at the base, covered with refried beans, chili, onions, cheese, picante sauce, sour cream and jalapenos. Tortilla chips for scooping are served on the side. It was tasty and definitely not a way we had found tamales served before. All the extras do cover up the tamale flavor a little bit though. So even if you really want a Fiesta, get a few plain tamales on the side so you can really taste them.
Solly’s, started in 1939 as a food cart, has an awesome tamale recipe. Both the filling and the cornmeal (Solly’s uses white cornmeal and not masa) are seasoned extremely well. After my first bite I immediately made Mr. Taco Traveler try a bite of the tamales straight up. They were absolutely delicious. Not knowing precisely what the crackers were for, we ended up spreading chunks of tamale on them for eating which was pretty tasty too. You can really tell that the tamales are a family recipe, homemade kind of food. The flavors were dead on delicious and good enough I probably could have eaten about 2 dozen before I wanted to stop.
Inside the restaurant the walls are covered with newspaper clippings about Solly’s and awards that have been won. The tables and chairs are pretty basic, but Solly’s is more of a take-out place than a dine-in restaurant. While we were there, a few other customers came in. One older customer said she has been eating Solly’s since she was a little girl and even though she is not from Mississippi now, anytime she gets near Vicksburg she stops in to buy several dozen tamales. Another customer was waiting in line when someone pooped her head out of the kitchen and asked if he wanted “the usual.” When he said yes, she went into the kitchen and brought the order out within a minute or two. The place obviously has some very dedicate customers. That, I think, is the best kind of place to find. I know any time we end up in Vicksburg again, we’ll be stopping by for sure.
Solly’s Hot Tamales is definitely worth 4 tacos out of 5. You can read a bit about the history of Solly’s here or, if you get close, point your car to 1921 Washington Street, Vicksburg Mississippi, 39180.