Prince Valley Market's handcrafted tamales are ready for your holiday table

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Soft, flavorful tamales may be the best gift you could unwrap this holiday season. 

At Prince Valley Market in Detroit, husk-swaddled tamales fly off the shelves all year round — around 1,000 per day — but that number goes up even more during the Christmas season, says store owner Joe Gappy. 

Tamales from Prince Valley Market in Detroit.

"It's just a go-to food," he said. "A lot of families — a lot of grandmothers, a lot of mothers — make tamales, but there's so much prep time, and there's so much dedicated time it takes to make the masa, cook the meat and then make the meat and put it all into a corn husk. It's a timely process."

Gappy, who employs more than 100 people at his southwest Detroit grocery store, has a team dedicated to making hot food that's ready for the table, including bags and bags of steaming corn tamales stuffed with chicken, pork or jalapeno and cheese.

"They're handcrafted every day," he said. 

The Mexican tamales are ready to eat, but if you wanted to go the traditional route and labor over them at home, Prince Valley sells all the ingredients and equipment you'll need to make tamales in your own kitchen. 

Prince Valley also has a huge bakery department that specializes in fresh bread and beautiful cakes — not only cake by the slice, but custom orders for special occasions. You'll also find fresh produce, a meat counter, grab-and-go salads, pantry items and services like a post office and a kiosk to pay your bills or send money. 

The family-owned store has been serving the southwest Detroit community for more than 46 years, says Gappy, who took over the business from his father in 2013. 

"Southwest has so much  to offer with Latino residents and people who are in business here they take huge pride in their community, in their neighborhoods and businesses," he said of his loyal customers. "Southwest is a great pocket in the city of Detroit." 

Prince Valley Market in Detroit has many grab-and-go meals, including chicken, pork and cheese tamales.

5 great spots for tamales in southwest Detroit

Prince Valley Market: Buy hot tamales ready to eat from the shelves, or gather the supplies to make your own at home. Open 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 5931 Michigan, Detroit. (313) 898-9717.

Evie's Tamales: Currently offering carryout only, Evie's is a popular destination for tamales, especially around the holidays. Order by the half dozen or dozen, or get them as a lunch or dinner plate. For larger Christmas batches, they'll take orders until Dec. 19. Open 4 a.m-4 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 3454 Bagley, Detroit. (313) 843-5056. 

Honeybee Market: Order a carryout tamale meal from this neighborhood grocer any day, or pick up a dozen — pork, chicken or jalapeno and cheese — on special for $9.99 Saturdays and Sundays. Honeybee also makes some of the best guacamole in town. Open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 2443 Bagley, Detroit. (313) 237-0295.

Tamaleria Nuevo Leon: Serving handmade tamales since the 1950s, this spot has beef, pork, chicken, bean, cheese and sweet tamales. It's cash only. Regular hours 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat. and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., but open daily right now to fill holiday orders. 2669 Vernor Hwy, Detroit. (313) 962-8066. 

Algo Especial Super Market: Another longstanding neighborhood market, Algo Especial sells a variety of hot tamales and other Mexican cuisine. Find chicken tamales in green sauce, pork or beef with red mole, jalapeno and cheese and sweet tamales. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Mon. 2628 Bagley, Detroit. (313) 963-9013. 

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Twitter: @melodybaetens