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Taste Test Thursday: The Best Salsa Roja

photography by Carol Shih
Bradford Pearson’s hand ruined 90% of my shots. (photography by Carol Shih)

Taste Test Thursday is a new series we’ve started here on D Magazine’s web team island. If you have other foods/drinks/non-humans you’d like to see tested out, send us a note. We’ll give it our best bite. (Two weeks ago, we did chopped BBQ beef.)

Oh, salsa. You’re the glue to every party in Texas. Don’t feel like talking? Don’t know anybody? Stuff your face with salsa and chips. It always make you look real smooth.

Well, chunky, too, depending on what kind of salsa you’re having.

Salsa is a staple in every Texans’ diet. If it’s not, it should be. We bought a bag of uber crispy/light Xochitl chips (made locally in Dallas) from Green Grocer and got started on blind tasting of six different salsas rojas (medium spicy level).

salsa2

THE SALSA SPREAD

A. Texas-Texas restaurant-style medium salsa (smooth texture) – Austin, TX (apple cider vinegar)
B. Joe T. Garcia’s salsa picante – Fort Worth, TX – tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, salt, vingegar, garlic, spice, and cilantro
C. Clint’s Texas Salsa (medium) - San Antonio, TX
D. Green Mountain Gringo Salsa – Winston Salem, NC (apple cider vinegar, pasilla peppers)
E. Becerra’s Tex-Mex jalapeno salsa – Dallas, TX
F. Frontera’s all natural salsa medium mexicana – Chicago, IL (filtered water, Anaheim chiles, apple cider vinegar, and xantham)

THE TASTE TESTERS

Web team folks + two interns = 8 people

WHAT SOME THEM SAID

A. Texas-Texas restaurant-style medium salsa (smooth texture) – Austin, TX (apple cider vinegar)

1. Tastes like vegetable soup.
2. Strange flavor
3. bland with a little back-end heat
4. I don’t like tasting beans in my salsa
5. sour

B. Joe T. Garcia’s salsa picante – Fort Worth, TX – tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, salt, vingegar, garlic, spice, and cilantro

1. Kind of a chemical after taste. But the spiciest of them all.
2. bland, watery
3. similar to A, but with less heat
4. same as C. boring.
5. tomato paste

C. Clint’s Texas Salsa (medium) - San Antonio, TX

1. Little bit of a kick. But the flavor is bland. Like tomato soup.
2. sweet, don’t like
3. overpowering tomato taste
4. Just tastes like tomatoes in water.
5. bland and watery

D. Green Mountain Gringo Salsa – Winston Salem, NC (apple cider vinegar, pasilla peppers)

1. The chunkiest of them all. Taste like apple cider vinegar. Spicy.
2. too chunky, also sweet
3. too vinegar-y
4. No. Just no.
5. chunky

E. Becerra’s Tex-Mex jalapeno salsa – Dallas, TX

1. Can really taste the cumin. A little watery. Tastes the freshest.
2. smoky, delicious, better, texture
3. heavy cumin, heat not bad
4. Chilean flavor, on the spicy side
5. tastes like chili. Finely chopped.

F. Frontera’s all natural salsa medium mexicana – Chicago, IL (filtered water, Anaheim chiles, apple cider vinegar, and xantham)

1. Mild-roasted flavor. Not spicy at all.
2. smoky and also delicious
3. smoky, but eventually tastes like an old shoe
4. Tastes like the inside of a watery burrito
5. dark, tomato-y

Becerra's salsa (from Dallas) wins
Becerra’s salsa (from Dallas) wins

THE RESULTS

Becerra’s salsa – 7 votes
Joe T. Garcia’s salsa – 1 vote

 CONCLUSION

Almost everyone agreed they liked Becerra’s salsa (made in Dallas!) the best. It had strong cumin notes, but it wasn’t overly chunky or watery. Green Mountain Gringo Salsa had way too much apple vinegar cider in it, and – worst of all – gnats were so attracted to it. Gross.