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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.

  • JtB

    Cita’s Salsa form Aritzone or White Rock Local Market is the best. Then El Fenix’s.

  • alyb803

    I took jars of Becerra’s red and green salsas to a family reunion in Snyder TX over July 4th. Everyone raved about them, and I was responsible for a family dispute about whether the red or the green was the best.

  • Blake

    Give me Mateo’s (made in Frisco, no less) over any of those any day of the week.

  • BradfordPearson

    For the record, I’d like to point that that’s not even my hand in this shot.

  • Dubious Brother

    Who picked out the 6 salsas for this D Magazine taste test?

  • primi timpano

    Good question. Pretty poor lineup all around. Homemade is best, especially now when tomatoes and peppers are in season. I enjoy the White Girl brand, but it also needs a little heat.

  • Dubious Brother

    My comment was aimed more at the origin sites – Austin, San Antonio, Ft. Worth, Chicago and Winston Salem – than the quality. This is D Magazine after all and I think that it could have and should have included 6 good Dallas options. I think a redo is in order.

  • Dallas Foodie

    Need to try Wright’s from Katy, TX – the Green Salsa (Medium), it is made from tomatillos, cucumbers, avocados. Delicious. they also have a red salsa and a habanero hot sauce. It is in the refrigerated section of stores and is sold at Central Market and Whole Foods. They usually deliver on Thursdays. They sell out very quickly!

  • Kelli Williamson

    Need to try my boyfriend’s salsa. It would blow all of these away.

  • reneeblo

    Which 6 salsas would you have picked?

  • Julie

    Clearly you have not tried Becerra’s salsa by your statement.

    Cita’s is like a refrigerated pico that only lasts for a week or so…and everyone has their our own fresh pico de gallo recipe. And El Fexix in the jar does not taste the same as it does in the restaurant.

  • Julie

    Agreed. Becerra’s Salsa Verde Hot is my favorite too!

  • AG92

    No surprise here – Becerra’s really knows how to make a great salsa…..all natural and delicious.

  • twinwillow

    America’s Test Kitchen (Cook’s Illustrated) whose opinion I value highly, recently rated Chi-Chi’s Salsa as the most highly recommended in a field of about 10 salsas.
    Albertson’s used to carry it but I have not seen it on their shelves lately. An employee told me they did not carry it.