Taste: In Search of … Salsa

While the backyard grill is heating up, chips and salsa are the perfect antidote for growling stomachs. We blind-tasted 25 locally made salsas to bring you the best.


While the backyard grill is heating up, chips and salsa (and a pitcher of watermelon margaritas!) are the perfect antidote for growling stomachs. We blind-tasted 25 locally made salsas to bring you the best.

JD’s Hot Sauces
Hahahotsauce.com
South Philly’s J.D. Paternoster makes two outstanding bottled salsas: Mild and Figgin’ Hot. The Mild actually has a lot of heat, balanced out by the sweetness of pineapple. It was the best basic, Ortega-style salsa we tasted. The Figgin’ Hot tastes of tamarind, brown sugar and, of course, figs. One taster found the fig seeds “irritating.”

Taqueria LaVeracruzana
908 Washington Avenue; 215-465-1440
A word of warning: You’ll need lots of water (or beer) to counter the incendiary effects of the Taqueria’s two excellent ­salsas — a red chipotle and a bright salsa verde, which they’ll happily sell you in large Styrofoam cups. These are the same salsas served alongside your enchiladas and tacos at this popular South Philly spot. But they’re only for heat freaks like us.

Meridith’s Market
10 Leopard Road, Berwyn; 610-251-0265
At this popular Berwyn brunch and ­gourmet-to-go spot, four salsas are on offer. The tomato, shrimp ceviche, and black bean and corn varieties are fine, but the mango salsa is fabulous. Tasters found it “refreshing,” with a “taste like summer.”

12th Street Cantina
Reading Terminal Market; 215-625-0321
We didn’t enjoy the Cantina’s tomato-based salsas at all; they tasted like cheap canned pasta sauces. But two of the creamy salsas offered — the chili con queso (with lots of Chihuahua cheese and poblano), and corn and green chili — were otherworldly.

Taco Riendo
1301 North 5th Street; 215-235-2294
Our favorite Mexican restaurant (a 2006 Best Of Philly winner) does the salsa-to-go thing right. Of the four offered, the best is the chipotle. Most chipotle salsas taste like chimneys, thanks to the chili’s pungent, smoky flavor, but Taco Riendo’s is perfectly balanced. Plus, it’s nice and thick for easy scooping.

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