Salsa's Bar and Grill, Fresno Report
A couple of days ago, hubby and I made our way to Salsa's Bar and Grill at the corner of Palm and Herndon in that industrial park looking area. We had originally started out with sushi in mind and were headed to Sushi n Pop, where we had never been. Of course as soon as we rolled into the parking lot, we noticed that the restaurant was being torn up. There was a change of ownership sign posted and several workers busy tearing up the floor. Oh well, no Sushi n Pop today! I then did a 180 and decided that Mexican sounded good, but that we should try a new place. We pointed the car towards Salsa's.
We arrived close to 2pm and the place was almost empty. We noticed what seemed to be a good selection of tequilas. The restaurant was open and modern looking. The kitchen is on display, which is nice. Hubby had his heart set on a tostada, so he ordered a chile verde tostada (not one of those bowl shaped ones, which are just weird, but a flat, fried tortilla). I noticed that the speciality of the house was a handmade gordita with your choice of filling. I opted for the wood-fired chicken. Hubby and I made quick work of the salsa, which I thought lacked heat, so I asked for the hotter stuff. Well, they aren't kidding around! The hot stuff was HOT and I liked it!! It did have a weird texture, being more pasty than salsa(y). But I mixed it with the mild salsa and it was great. The chips I was not a fan of, they kinda tasted like cardboard.
Our huge plate of food was served and we dug right in. My gordita was delicious! The handmade gordita had great flavor and could hold the filling very well. I loved the wood-fired chicken! It was moist and had a little sour tang and tasted a little smoky. The veggies on my gordita had also been grilled and were carmelized, yum! I also had guacamole and sour cream along side some rice and beans. I could barely eat the guacamole and had to leave most of the rice and beans uneaten. I thought the beans were okay and the rice a bit unusual. It was kind of crunchy like fried rice, hubby thought it was good.
Hubby's tostada was huge! He enjoyed the chile verde and managed to eat most of the tostada. He did say that my chicken was better and hoped to be able to come back soon to try breakfast as well (which they serve all day). They have some interesting seafood options that I would love to try and it also looks as though they have some good appetizer options.
The service was good, almost too accomodating. Our server was quite anxious that we would be happy and we were. She also told me that the chicken was marinated in Negro Modelo(sp?) and some lime juice. So maybe I will have to try grilling some up.
There are two locations for Salsa's in Fresno:
Salsa's Bar and Grill
6729 N. Palm, Suite 102
North Point Shopping Center
(on Palm and Herndon)
Salsa's Mexican Grill
453 Pollasky in the Dewitt Building
Old Town Clovis
Unfortunately, I cannot speak to the quality of the margaritas since we did not partake. However, the selection of tequilas behind the bar looked pretty good. They had some middle of the road stuff as well as some expensive stuff. For me the deal breaker would have to be the lime juice. If it is that crappy sour mix, I have issues (unless I'm drinking for free or something). I prefer fresh lime juice with good tequila on the rocks, never those frozen margaritas. Given the freshness of the ingredients in our dishes, I would hold out hope for a good margarita. Maybe you could pop over there for happy hour and post back!
My opinion of Salsas ....
First off, the food is absolutely spectacular. They have a smaller location in Clovis tucked away inside one of the buildings off Polasky. They have the absolute best Stuffed Jalapenos in the world. They actually leave the seeds in!!!! The wife primarily runs this location.
As for the Palm/Herndon location. As stated in the earlier review, they have excellent service and are very accomadating. The food is excellent as well.
The down side .....they market themselves as a tequila bar. I was excited when the wife told me they were opening. they have approximately 60 tequilas. The owner claims that he has every tequila available to him, but there are several bottles that other restaurants carry that they do not, so this is obviously not the case.
My other complaint is the pour amount and the pour method. First, let me explain that we have over 100 different tequilas at home. These range from tasty but expensive bottles (20 bucks) to bottles upwards of $600. We have been to Salsa's on three seperate occasions to eat a lite dinner and sample a few tequilas each. Those that have a true appreciation for tequila drink it 'neat' ... no chilling, no lime, no salt. Most of us also prefer to have it in a snifter or at least a rocks glass, especially when drinking something higher end. Every shot we have ordered at Salsa's has come in a shot glass. Furthermore, they jigger pour the shot. Two complaints ... First, when I am drinking a $50 shot, I don't think it's out of line to be poured more than 1 1/4 oz. And this wasn't poured by a bartender, it was poured by the owner!!! I have been to several tequila bars in the state as well as the country and have never had a high end shot jigger poured. Second, the jigger is not rinsed between pours. That means my $50 shot is tainted with someone's shot of Cuervo Especial!!!!!!!! (aka rot gut)
Another complaint I have, especially as the owner, is the knowledge level (or lack thereof) about tequila that the owner had. Again, they market themselves as a tequila bar. Being a tequila 'addict', I have more knowledge than most. I have visited several distilleries in Mexico, etc. However, there is just some basic knowledge that I would expect an owner of a self proclaimed tequila bar to know. He didn't.
In the end, we probably won't go back for tequila. I hear a new place opened down on Van Ness called Mezcals and they have about 30 different tequilas. Also, check out Fajita Fiesta at the new Shaw location. Absolutely wonderful food!!!! AND .... I hope to convince them to grow their tequila selection:)
Fajita Fiesta actually has 3 locations. They have one downtown on Divisadero. This is the original location and has mainly a lunch crowd. I believe they only serve beer/wine at this location. The second location is at Cedar/Nees. They have a small corner bar. The third, and new location, is located on Shaw/Cedar next to Black Angus. They have the full bar and large capacity seating. The fajitas are the best I have ever had!!!!
I am sorry that the tequila was a disappointment. It does seem weird to call yourself a tequila bar and not live up the reputation. I wish you well in your hunt for a true tequila bar, please post on your experience at Mezcal.
P.S. isn't there another Fieta Fiesta located on Nees just past First st? Is this a local chain?
Yes, it is a small family owned business only in Fresno. I've jokely tried to convince them to franchise, but they just laugh :)
I haven't had the opportunity to go to Mezcal's as of yet, but I do hope to soon. The bummer is that they close at 9, and we don't think about eatting dinner in the summer until about 8.