'Regrettable' is the word I would use to describe the food I purchased today from Mary Jo's Hot Tamales. I will describe my experience for you in horrifying detail. First, the tamales.The masa was a sickly gray color that lacked the typical fluffiness one expects in tamales and was so unseasoned as to be tasteless. The filling was a dry, pulverized mess that tasted faintly of beef bouillon cube. As far as I could tell, there were no fresh ingredients (such as garlic or chiles) in the tamale. The filling had a medium level of spiciness; I got the distinct impression that the cook believes one can substitute heat for flavor. If well-seasoned food is an orchestra, these tamales would be a vuvuzela shouting: 'LOOK AT ME; I BURN BUT NOT TOO OFFENSIVELY!' However, vuvuzelas -are- offensive, and so were these tamales.Also foisted off on me was an ungodly concoction called 'cheesy corn.' At first glance, it appears to be a misunderstanding of how nachos work: kernels of corn floating in a sea of Velveeta. Tasting the 'cheesy corn,' I was shocked (though in hindsight I really shouldn't have been) to discover that the body of this heady vintage was, in fact, corn -- specifically, the juice from an entire can of corn. I don't believe I would be too far from the mark in saying that you, dear reader, could replicate my 'cheesy corn' experience in your own kitchen by mixing together a can of Ro-Tel, a block of Velveeta cheese, and a can of whole kernel corn. If a small cup of this is worth $2.50 to you, then by all means, pour this mixture onto your tamales or dip your fries into it (both were suggested to me).Finally: the fries, simply put, were frozen home-style French fries with a light dusting of salt. Dear reader, you could make these fries at home while blindfolded, with one hand tied behind your back.I expected more from a restaurant that had been featured on Food Network. That was a mistake that I will not make a second time. If you are in Meridian and you want decent tamales, do yourself a favor and go to San Marcos instead.
The food is excellent, the service is superb, and the price is right! I frequent the restaurant and can say that the quality is consistent. The manager ensures that the staff are on the ball and the entire restaurant is meticulously clean. I am usually greeted, seated, served, and checked out in less than 20 minutes. Do not miss this dining experience.