The Best Salsas in Dallas: Readers' Picks

Christina Tacos Chips and Salsa.jpg
A seemingly innocuous question posted on the Dallas Observer's Facebook page this week drew more than 100 comments fast. "Where are your favorite chips and salsa in Dallas?" asked web editor Nick Rallo (he says it was for a friend).

Had he asked me I might have sent him to Restaurant Y Taquería Cristina on Webb Chapel Road. Their fiery green salsas made from freshly roasted chiles are a force to be reckoned with and a reminder that not all salsas are created equal.

See also:
- Seven Awesome Tacos in Dallas

Of course, "favorite" is subjective. While not all salsas made with chiles are spicy, other people may still prefer versions that lean more heavily on tomatoes. These are the salsa's you'll find in most of the Tex-Mex restaurants around Dallas.

The verde salsa served from a squeeze bottle at La Banqueta may be one of the greatest condiments made in Dallas, but it lacks the acrid character of the roja version that goes so well with the sweet pastor tacos. I often end up using them both.

Here are some of the other favorites from Facebook ...

Leslie Hurst touts Chuy's on McKinney and Knox. In her short, stocatta phrasing their salsa is To. Die. For.

Marlo Georgette Escamilla shames all of Dallas before throwing us a bone saying ...

Nothing in Dallas compares to Fort Worth places but the best chips and salsa goes to Maximo's by the Galleria. Homemade chips and pineapple mango salsa.

Melissa Farina voted for Javier's, but I still think it tastes like the sauce that SpaghettiOs swim in.

Allan Vela chose Taco Diner -- they keep the chips coming and they offer two salsas.

El Fenix got tons of votes, as did Matt's and Mia's. But do all these chains really serve the best salsa?

Christian Harris might say it best. She's also got me on the lookout for some off-the-beaten path Tex-Mex to the west.

La Familia off Fock St. In Fort Worth. Worth the drive and all the chain restaurants mentioned above have nothing on Fort Worth Tex-Mex

Location Info

Restaurant Y Taquería Cristina

10909 Webb Chapel Road, Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tacos La Banqueta - CLOSED

4500 Bryan St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Maximo Cocina Mexicana and Margarita Lounge

5301 Alpha Road, Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Javier's Gourmet Mexicano

4912 Cole Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Taco Diner

4011 Villanova St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Fenix

4608 S. Cooper, Arlington, TX

Category: Restaurant

Matt's Rancho Martinez

1904 Skillman St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mia's Tex-Mex

4322 Lemmon Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant


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52 comments
CitizenKane
CitizenKane

The black bean dip (salsa ??) that comes with the free chips at Gloria's..... !!!!!!!

yoka
yoka

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned La Acapulquena's chunky, lively salsa.  The salsa at Ostioneria 7 Mares rocks too, as does most of their menu.  I love the two salsas at Rancho La Sandia in Garland; they have a great salsa rosa and an even better tomatillo verde with avacado blended in.  Muey bueno!  

Eric_The_Midget
Eric_The_Midget

Chuy's and El Fenix?  Are you fucking kidding me?  They both taste like marinara, no heat what so ever.  I'm rather partial to El Ranchito's, it burns going in and coming out.

ElFlaco714
ElFlaco714

Chips & salsa in the picture - Mariano's? 

blankcur1
blankcur1

Perhaps El Fenix was able to become a chain because it has good salsa.

llomke
llomke

Hands down - la Popular Tamale House.  Both rojo and verde are addictive.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

La Victoria salsa. It will give a good burn going down and a ring of fire coming out.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I've always been confused by the terms picante sauce (which I saw as a puréed product), and salsa (which I thought was chunky).  I just looked up what Texas-Texas had to say.  Is their answer correct?  Anyone out there an authority on this?


"What is the difference between salsa, picante sauce and pico de gallo?

The word "salsa" is the Spanish word for sauce. The primary difference between the three sauces listed above is the texture. Picante sauce is similar to a pureed sauce and is rather smooth. Salsa is semi-chunky in texture. Pico de gallo has uniformly chopped tomatoes and traditionally contains a greater percentage of peppers than salsa or picante sauce." ---Sanderson Specialty Foods

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Chain salsas are a disappointment.  They're so bland.  El Fenix has the best chips, but the salsa, meh.

fsawtelle1
fsawtelle1

JusMex, 400 N. St. Paul.  I've been eating lunch there regularly for 12 years and it's mainly because their salsa is so good.

Nictacular
Nictacular

I know it was mentioned in the article, but that green from Tacos La Banqueta is a life changer. If I didn't like those sons-a-bitches so much, I'd steal a bottle every time I'm in there.

Hell, I may go steal some now...

dixiechickidie
dixiechickidie

I can't commit and say it's my favorite, but I get a hankering for the salsa verde at Wild Salsa from time to time.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

LaFamilia is great. Al and family started in Grapevine as Los Amigos and that location still does a pretty good version of the original.

As far as the chains go how about Taco Cabana? That stuff on their breakfast tacos is pretty tasty.

Steve
Steve

The best hot sauce is thick liquid.   Not that watery shit like Uncle Julios, nor the straight-cayenne of Mi Cocina. 


Think Mercardo Juarez.

foodbiatch
foodbiatch

I may be salsa-weird but my favorites are served at La Duni and Javier's. 

DiabloRojo
DiabloRojo

PINEAPPLE MANGO SALSA ? SERIOUSLY? ....

Teddy
Teddy

Rodarte & Vivero's Blue Moon Cantina. Lewisville off 121. Great Salsa. 


Twinwillow
Twinwillow

The "Fresca Salsa" at Gonzalez Restaurant in Oak Cliff. They don't serve it unless you ask for it.

And, the green salsa at Tacos La Banqueta on Bryan St.

Julie Clemens
Julie Clemens

Desperado's has a salsa verde (you have to ask for it) that is absolutely delicious. Warm, fresh, just yummy.

AndiBites
AndiBites

when Dallas had a Ninfa's, that was the best salsa. their salsa verde is what dreams are made of.

Samantha Gorham
Samantha Gorham

I love La Sabrocita in Carrollton. It's the place you introduced me to a few years ago. I am addicted to their Jalapeno salsa. I buy it every other week.

happygrrl
happygrrl

Taco Diner's green salsa (a creamy version with avacado in it, I suspect) is the only reason I go there. It makes their fajita salad sing and dance in the bowl. Yum.

Lisa Galvan
Lisa Galvan

Mi Cocina's chile de arbol and also the molcajete!

lmeli1
lmeli1

My very favorite is Mercado Juarez salsa, served warm.  

ElFlaco714
ElFlaco714

La Jaivita on Harry Hines serves a unique, killer salsa.

Jason Hicks
Jason Hicks

Javier's green salsa and Mattito's salsa (red). Chuy's is like eating pico and not even a salsa.

jarmstead16
jarmstead16

You know whose salsa is actually really awesome?  Ozona's.

smarta
smarta

I'm addicted to El Taquito Cafe's salsa.  The chips are hit or miss but the delicious salsa will burn a hole in your huevos.

sisterfunkhaus
sisterfunkhaus

Downtown El Fenix's original salsa (you have to ask for it) it definitely my favorite. In the DFW area, nothing beats La Familia. It is amazing and totally freshly made. I've never had anything like it.

J_A_
J_A_

Fock St? HA!

I'm convinced the only reason why people go to Chuy's is for their chips & salsa & jalapeno ranch.

todd
todd

@Eric_The_Midget I can't speak for El Fenix but I'll second a vote for Chuy's.  Plenty of heat and that marinara you're thinking of has been discontinued at Knox for about 10 years.  Not fucking kidding you.  

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I respectfully disagree with Sanderson, though I like his salsas just fine. "Picante" means spicy, therefore Picante Sauce is Spanglish for Hot Sauce. Usually the salsas for chips are blended via molcajete or blender, but are rarely puréed to the point the individual ingredients are almost indistinguishable. Chip sauces are often distinguished by color (verde or roja).

I am unaware of the origins of pico de gallo. D. Kennedy calls this kind of sauce Salsa Mexicana, Wiki calls it Salsa Fresca, and I have also encountered the term Salsa Crudo for pico de gallo style sauces.

In San Antonio pico was usually served with guacamole or fajitas, though in restaurants, especially, the pico is often superior to salsas; the tomatoes are usually less refrigerated and produced with greater recency, than the salsas. They are often cooled down for the gabaucho customers prevalent in Dallas, but most places will chop up a serrano or two to make more picante.

We are now entering salsa prime time, with tomatoes, onions, and peppers becoming available from local sources. The peppers have undergone a striking change in the past 10 years or so. Both the jalapeño and serrano peppers sold in supermarkets become larger every year. In addition to this new pepper obesity, the serranos are often a much lighter shade of green. Quality serranos cane be found at the Farmers Market when in season. As for the grocery stores, the best bets, in order, are Fiesta, CM and WF. The carnacerias are hit and miss. The lowest prices are at Fiesta.

While the jalapeño and serrano peppers are the predominate fresh peppers used in Dallas salsas, sometimes the chile pequin can be found (though it also can be cultivated effortlessly from bushes). These peppers have a short shelf life, so a pequin (sometimes called piqueno) bush is an easy way to keep them on hand. Be warned, this is a very hot pepper.

The dried peppers are also used for many recipes for fresh dipping sauces. Diane Kennedy's books have many recipes devoted to them.

yoka
yoka

@Mervis_Earl Taco Cabana is the best of the 'fast food' mexican chains (also the priciest) and I like a lot of their stuff.  Their fuego salsa hooked me from my first taste, (especially with their barbocoa tacos) and their pico is usually top quality.  I used to enjoy going there after the clubs let out (back then it was called Two Pesos), sobering up with some spicy food, out on the patio. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I do not like watery sauces, either. I use forks to scoop it so the liquid can drip out between the tines.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Are you sure that bowl movement is not that of cucharachos?

foodbiatch
foodbiatch

@happygrrlTaco Diner should be ashamed of itself for serving chips that taste exactly like cardboard.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Mi Cocina may be the most overrated TexMex chain in Texas. Go to the HP franchise and peer into the kitchen. Then go to any Taco Cabana and observe the kitchen. No discernible difference in the process, except that TC is better and has better service (don't believe me? Go to a MC and order rice, charros , and avocado as a main course, for me it was an unfunny scene from Abbott and Costella's who's on first).

yoka
yoka

@smarta El Taquito's salsa is fiery but I love it.  In fact, I love El Taquito overall.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I likewise agree on El Taquito's salsa, at least for the standard tomato/hot pepper category. I always buy a pint for take out, and the good there is incomparably better than M Corp fast food abominations (taco diner, Mi Cocina). La Nueva has an excellent creamy green hot sauce, but the avocado in it is a ringer ingredient.

todd
todd

@JaniceA I go to Chuy's every weekend.  I might eat a basket of chips, to go with a bowl of Green Chile Stew. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I think the chips must be the prize at Mi Cocina, as well, as the food there is no better than wormy dog shit. Mi Cocina is a great example of how mass opinion polls about anything related to quality or aesthetics is likely wrong and certainly unreliable. This is why critics and criticisms are better than reader polls, that merely serve as a self aggrandizing and self approval mechanism for the witless. Mi Cocina made it "safe" to go out for TexMex, and then rode the resulting wave of World Class Dallas Popularity by attracting Dallas celebrities; better to be seated in a room of foul food so long as Troy is there, too.

Yes, I have a beef with Mi Cocina and M Corp. the food sucks, the service sucks, the management bullied Mi Cocina Hondurenas.

sisterfunkhaus
sisterfunkhaus

@JaniceA Their food is vile with the exception of the queso with the guacamole, meat, etc... in it. I find their food inedible.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

TC is a very credible fast food TexMex joint. I personally like the charro beans and the refried black bean and cheese taco is one of my secret fast food pleasures. Their salsas are in a fast food class of their own.

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