In my last two posts, I shared what I ate at Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta, where Paul and I spent last weekend. But on the road trip from Memphis to Atlanta, we made an amazing discovery — VEGAN HOT TAMALES in Birmingham, Alabama!!!!
Birmingham is the halfway point between Memphis and Atlanta, so we stopped there for lunch. About an hour before we reached the city, I googled "vegan options in Birmingham." I'd found good vegan food there before (at Golden Temple), but we were looking to try something new. And lo and behold, the first thing that popped up was Delta Blues Hot Tamale, a little tamale shop with a ton of vegan options.
If you're not from the South, you may have never heard of the "hot tamale trail." It's a path through the Mississippi Delta where hot tamales are as ubiquitous as cornbread and catfish. You might not think of tamales as a traditional Southern food, but they are! Birmingham isn't exactly on the trail, but it's not far, and the influence of Delta tamales has clearly reached eastward. Delta Blues Hot Tamales makes authentic, spicy Southern-style tamales, and we were excited to try them.
The vegan tamale option were black bean tamales, and you could order them plain or with all kinds of not-so-traditional toppings. Vegan options are clearly marked with a V, and veganizable dishes are listed with instructions on how to order. After much consideration, I settled on the Buffalo Tamale Plate — hold the feta dressing and substitute the vegan ranch.
Y'all!! These black bean tamales were covered in buffalo sauce, and the creamiest vegan ranch. I seriously couldn't believe a little tamale shop in Alabama had vegan ranch, and I just had to order it for that reason alone. I got a side of Cucumber Tomato Salad (a Southern fave!). Paul went with plain tamales — one vegan and one with meat. And he actually loved the vegan tamale the most!
The tamales were amazing — just the right level of heat and plenty of filling. But our appetizer truly blew us away! They had Vegan Fried Pickles with Comeback Sauce!
Vegan fried pickles are really hard to find, as most places use egg batter, but fried pickles have long been one of my favorite things. I was so excited to be able to order these. Comeback sauce (a Southern dip of mayo and chili sauce) typically isn't vegan either, so I was totally excited to eat this. What's really cool is that anyone who orders fried pickles and comeback sauce (or ranch dressing) is served the vegan version, whether they're vegan or not. And I'd bet most omnis would never know the difference.
Other vegan options at Delta Blues Hot Tamales include the Holy Chipotle Plate (black bean tamales with chipotle-lime sauce, charred corn relish, and tomatoes), the Bama Q Plate (tamales with BBQ sauce, slaw, and pickles), the Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos, and the Butterbean Hummus Tacos. I love this place so much, and I will definitely be back on the next road trip through Alabama!