It’s the shack that doesn’t disappoint.
The Tamale Shak is tiny and somewhat off the beaten path. This Gulfport restaurant has a quirky outer appearance, a local cult following, and, most importantly, delicious hot and made-from-scratch tamales.
This place is as much a Mississippi staple as the tamales themselves, and proves it Tuesday through Friday with massive lines during its 10 am to 3 pm hours and outdoor seating.
Each morning the Tamale Shak is bursting with freshly prepared Mexican dishes. Its secret is a focus on quality over quantity. The menu isn’t huge, but all the dishes are whipped up in the open kitchen in plain view of patrons.
And you have to arrive at this mom-and-pop eatery early because everything is made by hand, with age-old family recipes, so when a dish runs out, it’s gone for the day.
These famous tamales can be enjoyed traditionally with shrimp, chicken, or beef or smothered with your favorite toppings such as guacamole, green chilies, or black beans.
In addition to tamales, the menu features other Tex-Mex classics, like burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and loaded nachos. There’s even a Tamale Salad with romaine lettuce and dry slaw.
If you’re feeling really hungry, try the Shak Attack monstrosity, and there’s a veggie burrito for those vegetarians and vegans.
And, of course, there’s plenty of cold beer to go around.
The Tamale Shak has an incredibly active Facebook page with constant posts thanking its patrons and loyal staff. You’ll see everything from the day’s menu to a child’s Spiderman Croc that was left behind during a recent visit.
“The lost croc has been reunited with its little human! Thanks to everyone for sharing so we could make a little boy’s day brighter!!!” employees told their thousands of followers.
And there’s a massive amount of reviews showing the eatery’s local cult following and out-of-town fans.
Wendy Reed, chef, and owner, wrote this social media message about the Tamale Shak in January to celebrate a restaurant milestone.
“Oh Tamale Shak, I do love you,” Reed wrote. “Eight years. It’s been eight years. Some days were definitely diamonds. Some days, stones, and I mean some days, were stones. We have a lot of fun. We make people happy and when the week is done, we gather more stuff so we can come back and do it again. Many thanks to those who come in and make us smile. We appreciate you all for finding us, loving us and coming back time after time, and for telling your friends about what we do.”
*Photo courtesy of the Tamale Shak Facebook page.