Tasty, tangy and fresh daily
By Dena Miller
Americans love their salsa. Across the country shoppers run into their local supermarkets and stock up on their favorite jarred brands and bags of tortilla chips, ready to settle in at home for some football or Netflix binge-watching. It’s yummy, crowd-pleasing and – dare we say? – a pretty healthy snack alternative.
Taoseños also have a love affair with salsa, of course. But we’re lucky we can duck past that grocery aisle and head straight to the deli counter, where there’s some tasty and tangy, freshly made options waiting for us to grab it and go.
Make your first stop Super Save Discount Foods, 519 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. There, Christine Cox, the store’s deli and bakery manager, oversees a staff that makes a whopping 100 pounds of their pico de gallo every single day. “Pico de gallo” translates literally to “beak of rooster” and deli clerk Eva Terrezas said it’s colloquial for the way salsa “hits the back of your throat.”
And what’s hitting you is the deliciousness of its fresh and simple ingredients: jalapeño, tomato, onion and garlic chopped finely by hand and seasoned with a judicious sprinkling of salt. “It’s definitely our best-selling salsa,” Cox said. “You can add other ingredients to it and make it your own but our customers like it just the way it is,” she added.
Super Save also makes a daily green tomatilla salsa; a roasted taquera salsa redolent of the smokiness of roasted peppers blended with tomato and cilantro; and a satisfyingly spicy molcajete salsa with chiles de arbol and chiles pequin snapping your taste buds to attention. “We also make a traditional, Americano salsa,” Cox added, in case your preference so dictates, but step outside of the box and treat yourself to an explosion of flavor.
Insider tip: Stop at Super Save’s in-store tortilla factory and pick up a fresh bag or two, still warm from the oven. Then make your own chips to enjoy.
Head on north to Midtown Market and Spirits, in Arroyo Hondo, where for the last 12 years business partners Greg Trujillo and Jason Hewett have been upping the game of takeout. Make no mistake: this isn’t just your typical neighborhood convenience store. The two pride themselves on their carefully culled variety of quality brands and local and organic products.
“We make one version of salsa,” said Trujillo, who uses his grandfather’s recipe. “We make it two or three times a week, with the freshest ingredients we can get. It’s pretty straightforward, with a medium hot, good base flavor and a clean taste profile.” Previously available only in Midtown’s bistro table service, he said, “We had so many customers ask to buy it that we decided to sell it on its own in the market.”
The two, who both hail from Portland, Oregon, know a thing or two about about good food and good brew, so while you’re picking up a tub of their increasingly on-the-radar salsa, grab a six-pack from their outstanding selection of beers and New Mexican wines. You’ve got all the makings of an upgraded night at home.
Midtown Market is located at 680 State Road 522, in Arroyo Hondo. Call (575) 776-1680 for more information.
Back on the south side of town, Rosita’s Mexican Store is an authentic “tienda de abarrotes,” according to owners Juan José and Maria Sanchez. Along with their son, Pedro, the Sanchezes have created a hidden gem for all things Mexican.
That, of course, includes a fresh and lively homemade salsa which is one of their top sellers. Though secret recipes are never shared, one taste will tell you all you need to know: this is darn good. So good, in fact, you might have a hard time walking away without also picking up some carne for fajitas or al pastor for tacos and burritos, all marinated to perfection in Rosita’s special seasoning blend. After all, salsa isn’t just for snacking; it makes a great side with your meal. And while you’re at it, throw some freshly baked conchitas or pan de dulce in your shopping bag, too.
Find Rosita’s at 1384 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, or call ahead at (575) 751-9501.
The abundance of Mexican and New Mexican restaurants scattered throughout town also have their own special recipes for salsa and they’re happy to send you home with some. Azteca Mexican Grill, 122 Doña Luz Street, is a great new addition to the dining scene, and news travels fast when the salsa is good. Call (575) 758-3251.
Antonio’s The Taste of Mexico has garnered quite a following for their habanero salsa. If you can stand the heat, by all means grab your order at 1379 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, or call (575) 758-2599.