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Tamales Los Unicos
25th and C, Golden Hill

There's something about standing outside in the chill of the night, unwrapping your own personal Sinaloa-style tamal, taking a slurp of champurrado, and chatting with everybody else in the pool of light. Alma and her husband Fernando set up their Tamales Los Unicos cart in the driveway of a body shop at 3:00 every afternoon and stay open till 9:00. They serve pork tacos al vapor, but the real delicious combo is tamales and champurrado. Cut the red wool string binder, open the steaming golden cornhusks, and chow down on a doughy mix of potato and chile and tomato and onion and hot sauce. To help it down, ask for one of Mexico's oldest drinks, made of chocolate, masa -- corn dough -- and cinnamon. Champurrado. Thick, rich, sweet, hot. Finish off with an elote, made of sweet corn paste, and guess what? You've filled yourself up, made friends, practiced your Spanish, and spent, oh, maybe $3-$4.

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