Fat Mama’s Tamales has long been a staple in the city of Natchez. Locals and visitors alike enjoy the casual, eclectic atmosphere and unique sampling of menu items.
The Origin of the Mississippi Tamale
On a recent visit, I began wondering how a place like Natchez became such a hot spot for Mississippi’s iconic tamales. As it turns out, Mexican migrant workers introduced them to the Mississippi Delta when moving into the area for cotton harvest. With the ingredients readily available and cheap, the African American laborers began making them with their own twist, using corn meal and sometimes different meats – or no meat at all. Today, tamales are a staple of Mississippi cuisine, made our own way and usually with an extra spicy kick!
Opening a Tamale Shop
Fat Mama’s was born in the mid 1980’s when the Gammill family saw a need to fill the void left when the beloved local tamale maker passed away. In memory, the Gammill family and their friends would get together and try to recreate those scrumptious bites. This went on for months until they felt confident that they’d perfected the recipe.
First they simply filled orders-on-demand without a storefront. Then, in 1989, the cottage industry evolved into a small to-go tamale shop called Fat Mama’s, referencing an inside family joke their kids circulated. They’d say that Mama was eating so many test runs of her tamales that she would eventually become a “Fat Mama.” The name stuck.
Fat Mama’s Tamales continued to expand modestly over the years, giving customers more space to dine-in and more menu options. Eventually they moved across the street from the original location and became a full restaurant.
Today, Fat Mama’s menu has evolved to one of tamales, boudin, chili, Mexican cornbread, poboys, nachos, and more. Their signature Gringo Pie combines tamales with chili, cheese, onions and jalapenos on top. Their Gringo Casserole is pretty much the same thing, only prepped for a large crowd.
But oh, those tamales. Fat Mama’s Tamales are a Mississippi Delta style hot tamale. Each tamale is wrapped in an authentic corn husk, cooked to perfection! Fat Mama’s Tamales are made with a combination of beef and pork, full full of flavor – and boiled not steamed.
The Fat Mama’s Experience will “Knock You Naked”
At the restaurant, local craft beer is featured on tap, including the Natchez Brewing Blonde, my favorite. But the margaritas are really “where it’s at.” There are several “Knock You Naked” Margarita options – always frozen, the Fat Mama’s way. Knock You Naked is the Fat Mama’s proprietary line of margarita mix blends, and they’re also available in retail jars, so you can make your own batches at home! Definitely some of the best frozen margaritas I’ve ever had, but beware, they do sneak up on you. So beware that you don’t get “knocked naked!”
Plan Your Trip
Make plans to visit Natchez, Mississippi soon for all it’s history and charm, and be sure to stop in at Fat Mama’s for a memorable experience. And if you’re not ready to get brave the Knock You Naked margaritas at home, take home a jar of their housemade Fire and Ice Pickles, a real treat offered in retail jars – a sweet pickle with some real heat and definitely a worthy souvenir.