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Best Salsa in Austin

I love a good salsa and was wondering other people opinions on where to be served the best in Austin. Oh, my favs are Maudies, Casa Chapala and Trudy's. Yours?

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  1. My favorites are Curra's, Polvos (all of them!), and Z'tejas.

      1. I like the table salsas at Sago - both the red and the green are excellent.

        1. Trudy's has been pretty consistent over the last 20 years. Curra's (Oltorf location), also damned good. I also think Maria's Tacos salsa is good, but I just LOVE the Chimichurri sauce, though the vinegar puts some people off. Mother's used to do a really good red salsa, and Hula Hut used to have a mango version I've heard that they stopped.

          Sadly, though, the best salsas in town rarely get served in restaurants. In one of the last restaurants I worked, half a dozen of us would regularly make salsa for other people in the back of the house to try. Any time the owners tried them, however, they were too afraid they were way too muy picante for the customers.

          If anyone knows about a restaurant with the cojones to serve a habanero salsa, please tell us about it. I heard there was one like that at Polvo's, but I didn't see it last time I was there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: taliesin15

            Tacodeli has a hab salsa (but I've never been there).

            From their menu:
            Habanero Pico
            Fresh habañeros with diced tomato, onion, lime and cilantro.


          2. El Chile, and Ana's Salsa sold at HEB.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LakeLBJ

              Ana's is the BEST store bought salsa I've ever had! The medium is plenty hot for me so I can still taste the onions, cilantro and garlic.

              1. re: LakeLBJ

                Amen to Ana's! Just ran out in the rain to get some. $3.29 at Sun Harvest. I just got the hot for the first time and I didn't think it was that much hotter than the medium. The heat just hits at first and stays.

                1. El Regio's green stuff (which I've recently discovered how to make at home after searching for years), and Aribe Chipotle salsa from the grocery store. Taco Cabanas roasted tomato isn't too bad either.


                  29 Replies
                  1. re: sqwertz

                    If you mention it, you've gotta post the recipe!

                    1. re: achtungpv

                      Taquerias Arandinas, in RR, has by far had the best salsa's I have had in area yet. And I am a salsaholic-lol...

                      1. re: achtungpv

                        Seed and devein about 10 jalapeños (red or green - I used red). 2 garlic cloves. 1/2cup of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of salt.

                        Whiz it all in the blender for minute, then add an egg and blend for another 30-60 seconds.

                        I had tried using cheeses, cream, crema, all sorts of chiles, and it turns out it was as simple as this. I may actually try adding some cream instead of the egg in my next batch, but this is pretty darn close already.


                        1. re: sqwertz

                          I actually inquired about El Regio's recipe once and jotted down some notes based on that conversation. I don't think your ingredients match up with theirs. Still, I like your attitude towards experimentation, and your results sound interesting.

                          As for favorite salsas, none of the more "famous" local versions really impress me, but I love some of the freshly-made ones offered at humble spots all over the Hispanic east and southeast sides. Specifically, I'll nominate La Regiomontana, next door to El Regio on East Riverside. I've found all of their salsas to be delicious—from the green one made like El Regio's to the tlaquepaque sauce that drenches their tacos bañados. Their food is really good, too—which is not the case at many places that claim to produce the best salsa.

                          I'll also nominate El Centenario, a taco trailer whose salsas are beloved of our own scrumptiouschef. It's located on Manor Road just east of Airport, in the northwest corner of a small shopping center's parking lot.

                          1. re: MPH

                            I'd love to see those notes, as I've been posting asking about it since 2002. This recipe is 90% 'there'. The 'secret ingredient' is just emulsified vegetable oil. And it doesn't taste oily at all (less oily than mayo, IMO). There is no avocado in it from what I can tell. I was never convinced there was any in the first place. Maybe that's the final missing ingredient (but I kinda doubt it).

                            It'll only cost you about $.50 to try it and see how close it comes :-)
                            I found the basic recipe at:

                            (Note that I didn't roast the japs beforehand - because I know El Reg9io didn't do that and have never been to Tacodeli).


                            1. re: sqwertz

                              sqwertz, thanks for sharing your recipe -- count me as another rabid fan of El Regio's green, and I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to recreate it at home, too. I'd always had some kind of dairy in mine, so it's interesting to see that was at least one of the inaccuracies.

                              MPH, dust off those notes and share with us, will ya ?

                              1. re: Nab

                                I'll have to do this from memory, since I'm in the middle of packing for a trip abroad. I should add the caveat that my thoughts on El Regio’s salsa recipe are based on one staff person’s feedback in response to my guesswork about the ingredients. I have no access to the officially authorized recipe. I’ve noticed that ER’s green salsa tastes the same, no matter which franchise produces it (they have multiple locations in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, even Dallas), but the recipe is not exactly available to the public.

                                The skinny was that the salsa contains no avocado (which you’d surmised, sqwertz) or tomatillo. It’s based on a pureed green salsa—which, typically, can be made from a variety of types of chiles (like serranos) that have been roasted or not, along with seasonings like garlic, onion, oregano, salt, etc.—that’s blended well with crema fresca [which you can make on your own or buy].

                                The oil-and-egg part of your recipe are what struck me as off, based solely on this conversation and my own attempts at recreating their salsa. Your version does sound like a tasty mayo-based sauce, though. I hope we can all keep sharing ideas. To keep us on-topic for this board, I’ll add a link to the last good discussion of salsas in town:


                                1. re: MPH

                                  Speaking of El Regio in San Marcos, did you notice the expanded menu they have there? burritos, tacos and I think enchiladas!??!

                                  1. re: achtungpv

                                    I did notice that. It's nice to have more options. Sad story: When I ordered a torta milanesa (to eat immediately) and a grilled chicken (to take home) at the San Marcos franchise a while back, I drove off without the torta! I still haven't returned to try to re-claim my lost chow.

                                    If you give their non-chicken-related food items a try, please report back.

                                  2. re: MPH

                                    OffTopicQ: MPH, Going to a good chow location?

                                    And just to scandalize you ;-), OnTopic comment:
                                    My favorite salsa was how they used to make it at ZTejas in the arboretum. Very strong smoked chipotle flavor.

                                    1. re: MPH

                                      I have to disagree with almost everything you said.

                                      I have tried making this with crema fresca and it doesn't even come close - especially as far as richness. I think Riverside and Rundberg's Salsa is consistently better than Stassney's.

                                      If you leave a container of ER salsa out overnight you'll clearly see the oil separate out of the mixture. Which indicates it's oil based - not any sort of dairy. (It also doesn't turn color, which made me convinced there's no avocado). It also slides cleanly out of the container which a dairy-based product will not.

                                      There could be a mix of peppers, mainly jalapeno and/or serrano according to the color, but there's clearly no oregano, and I doubt even onion in there. I even took a superficial browse through their Stassney dumpster (with a long stick) just to see what I might find.

                                      If you try making a batch each of oil-based and crema-based, you'll see that the later is not even close while the former is pretty darn close. The recipe I posted doesn't even sound good, but the results are very tasty. The egg was a last minite addition of mine. I thought it needed some body and a better consistency and that worked very well.

                                      I also poo-poo'ed the recipe when I first saw it.

                                      1. re: sqwertz

                                        I love to think of sqwert out there dumpster diving like a half starved hound dog.Ever read Cometbus?If not you should.I think the Arandas chain does a good job on their red which is a very "standard" Mexican table salsa.The green is hit or miss.El Centenario easily has the best, most complex red in town but it's not a chips and salsa style.It goes great on tacos[their's aren't very good though].

                                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                          Hey - I told you I've gone to great lengths to duplicate this salsa :-) The dumpster corral doors were open and there was a busted broom stick there, so I did some pocking around. The only thing I saw were #10 cans of some sort of tomato product.

                                          I didn't spend much time poking around, nor did I get all the way into the dumpster.

                                          I just made another batch tonight using only green jalapenos. This batch was much more watery then the previous and the egg foamed up too much. I need a thickener of some sort....

                                          But it still tasted right. I suspect ER uses serranos and jalapenos, though.


                                          1. re: sqwertz

                                            I don't taste any "roasted' flavor of peppers at all in that salsa. Squertz is on the right track. I may have to truly engage this endeavor!

                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                              Okay, I've given it a go a coupla times now and, thanks to this thread, I'm getting closer. Alot closer. At this point, the sauce is already pretty stupendous, it's just a matter of nit-picking until we can replicate El Regio's.

                                              Coupla notes:

                                              - Agree that it is very likely oil-based.
                                              - Agree about not tasting any "roasted" peppers, though I have not tried roasting them myself yet.
                                              - While the taste of onions was not perceptible to me, I still think they are in there. I need to try a batch without onions to see if I notice anything missing. Onion juice can do magical things though.
                                              - Jalapenos can vary so much in heat level, but the only time that I've been able to get my Scovilles up in the range of El Regio's is by the addition of a small habanero in the mix of the japs/serranos.

                                              I suspect there's still one or two key things that separate El Regio's from the ones I've been making.

                                              scrumptiouschef -- i like your idea on Rififi, but from what i recall, the ending ain't exactly desirable .....

                                              1. re: Nab

                                                Okay, as a younger adult, my parlor trick was being able to taste out every ingrediant in a given dish/sauce. I'm a little out of practice, but I'm game on trying this. I've never been to El Regio, so I'd also like some suggestions on entrees while I toy with the sauce.

                                                1. re: amysuehere

                                                  Heh. The nice thing about El Regio is that you don't have to pick the entree, you just have to pick the size: you can opt for either half of a pollo asada, or an entire pollo asada. It comes with a side of beans and a side of rice, and a container of the magical green sauce. Ask for extra sauce, since you'll be experimenting.

                                                  I personally don't care for the beans and always end up getting double rice.

                                                  1. re: pwang

                                                    Okay, my guess is raw serranos and garlic salt and oil. No chicken stock, no cream product, no onion.

                                                    1. re: amysuehere

                                                      I made one with pure serranos last week (no jalapeños for sale) and was way too hot and not a very good flavor. I'll stick with jalapeños. The bath I made with the red jalapeños was the best so far.

                                                      I've also tried adding crema, sour cream, and coconut milk to the mixture in subsequent batches (not all at the same time) and still isn't as good as the simple oil, jalapenos, garlic and salt version I posted.

                                                      I've also since tried using half lard (other half regular oil) and another batch using all coconut oil. Still not the same.

                                                      The only thing I haven't tried is seeking a famous religious leader to give it a blessing.

                                                      I'm sticking to my original recipe posted here.

                                                      1. re: sqwertz

                                                        i used raw egg yolk and it came out exactly like el regio's sauce. i made it with roasted skinned poblanos and one jalapeno to reduce the fire factor, one roasted garlic clove, a bit of lemon juice, and lots of veg. oil. i made it mild for family members who couldn't take the heat, but we had el regio's mayonesa verde right on the table with it and all who had both commented that mine was just like el regio's. the first time i tried it i did it with no egg yolk and it wouldn't stay emulsified, it kept separating. i am convinced that egg yolk is the emulsifier, or at least it replicates to a T whatever they use at al regio's.

                                                        1. re: luckyfatima

                                                          You know, I thought I detected a little lemon, but I wasn't sure. Unless mine was a seriously hot batch of jalepenos, I feel sure it was at least a little serrano in there.

                                                          1. re: luckyfatima

                                                            Thanks for being the first one to actually try it and report that it works :-) I will use just egg yolk next time. I still havce a pint of my last batch (I used coconut milk in this version - knowing that I was getting farther away my original recipe, but It just sounded good).


                                                          2. re: sqwertz

                                                            I wonder if a simple version could be made with prepared mayo and peppers and spices? Maybe more close with fake mayo. It certainly seems like an emulsion to me. About 5 minutes ago, I put a whole spoon in my mouth. Here's my guess (I'm influenced by the posts above as well):

                                                            Oil and egg yolk (less egg than in mayo), emulsified
                                                            jalapenos and serranos
                                                            maybe a little lemon

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              I made a batch last night for hubbers, who's the salsa king. Made it with seeded serranos, veg oil, salt and a dash of lime juice. He said it tasted exactly like the green salsa at Ninfa's. Go figure.

                                                              1. re: amysuehere

                                                                I thought we had good consensus that there was no avocado, but the folks who opened up an outpost in Chicago claim that there's avocado. I'm not buying it though. I also tried lettuce and that didn't work either.

                                                                I've personally settled on rudeboy's specs, with the addition of onions.

                                                        2. re: pwang

                                                          newish to this board, i just relocated here from NYC (although i lived in Austin 11ish years ago and have posted before) -- it wasn't until this post about El Regio being a "chicken shack" that gave me my aha! -- i suspect the sauce you're trying to replicate is Aji, a Peruvian green sauce served with Peruvian Roasted Chicken. of course, this may be a variation adapted by another nation in the America's.

                                                          there is much board discussion in homecooking and on the NYC outerboroughs board (specifically for Pio Pio) about this kind of sauce.

                                                          i've had it in two styles, a "creamy" one that i agree is much more likely to be aioli/egg-oil based than dairy based. although more watery, it can also be made without the egg.

                                                          a google search will turn up a lot on aji as well.

                                                          it's been a while since i've made it, but i always used cilantro, jalapeno, and poblanos to round out the flavor.

                                                          traditionally, it's to be made with Peruvian peppers which i think are generally not available in the US. it also doesn't traditionally use cilantro, but uses espazote, which i haven't tried yet (not sure i'd know how to identify it).

                                                          some recipes include adding things like lettuce or bread.

                                                          this stuff is manna, in all of its forms, so i don't think the experimental home cook can go "wrong" -- or at least they should enjoy consuming their mistakes.


                                                      2. re: Nab

                                                        The two times I've used onions (once onion, once shallot) the results were way too watery. I'm having trouble getting the consistency correct. Each time it comes out different depending on the batch of peppers I use.


                                    1. re: sqwertz

                                      Please, please, please send me the recipe for the green stuff...i have been searching for a year!! genevievetromiczak@yahoo.com....i love you <3

                                    2. The salsa at Maudie's is a bit hot for me, I like more flavor than fire. However, they have the BEST queso I've ever had in my life. It is definitely a must-try and there's no excuse not to because locations are popping up all over Austin. They're food in general is quite good as well.

                                      1. I believe they use lard in El Regio's green salsa.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: SnootieFoodie

                                          <snork> I was actually toying with the idea that it might be partly rendered chicken fat from the neck and thigh cavities of the whole birds they buy.

                                          <shrug?> -sw

                                          1. re: sqwertz

                                            Yeah, well, it's not always pretty but dag nabbit that stuff is good, I just try not to eat too much of it.

                                          2. re: SnootieFoodie

                                            I don't eat pork so I called El Regio and asked to make sure there was no pork products in either their tortillas or salsa verde. They confirmed for me that both are lard-free and pork free. Only their beans have pork.

                                          3. Last time we went to Habanero cafe we both repeatedly remarked at how awesome their red salsa is.

                                            1. green sauce at El Regio

                                              green sauce at Taqueria Piedras Negras

                                              all of the 5 to 6 offerings at Evita's Botanitas (especially the chargrilled ahumdo serrano unit) used for their chip tower

                                              tlaquepaque at Regiomontana

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: chowmick

                                                "green sauce at El Regio" seems to be the winner that we can't decide how to duplicate.

                                                I'm willing to organize a covert operation to find out how they make this sauce.
                                                I have ski masks. And some getaway cars. And a stick blender.

                                                1. re: sqwertz

                                                  I would prefer a modern take on the heist in the great French film Rififi.I'll reprise the role of Tony le Stephanois,the rest of the roles are up for grabs...

                                              2. So, el regio's green salsa huh? I have never been to El Regio's, can someone please tell me where they are located?

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: cajuntexan

                                                  Address of the one closest to downtown is 1928 E Riverside.
                                                  Here is the google map: http://tinyurl.com/elregio

                                                  They also have a truck parked at the gas station at 38 1/2 and N IH-35, right in front of the Fiesta.

                                                  1. re: pwang

                                                    I'm WAAAY up north. Is the truck as good as the Riverside location?

                                                    1. re: amysuehere

                                                      There's one on Ohlen at 183, next to a convenience store and across the street from the Arby's. It's a walk-up window. I think there's one in Round Rock, but I don't know where.

                                                      1. re: mkwng

                                                        Another north-ish Regio's location is in a strip mall just above Rundberg, on the east side of I-35. Look around for a bit if you don't see it right away, I had trouble spotting it the first time I went over there.

                                                        Sometimes their breast meat is a bit dry, but aforementioned green salsa will wash your troubles away.

                                                        1. re: coco_beware

                                                          There's actually *two* at Rundberg and I-35. One at each end of the tiny strip mall that has a Planet K and a laundramat - about 60 yards apart. or at least there used to be.

                                                          And another one in a strip mall just north of Rutland on Lamar, on the east side of the street.

                                                          1. re: coco_beware

                                                            One thing I've noticed at the Ohlen location: they do all of their cooking, then store it all up. If you order the chicken, and they aren't cooking any chicken at the time, chances are it is going to be a bit dry. I now go early 5-ish if I can. The Riverside location has more throughput, I think - it is the best of the locations that I've been to.

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              I also think the Riverside location has slightly better green salsa, but that may be my imagination, or the fact that I had to go 4 miles further than my closest El Regio to get there.

                                                              I learned way back when to always go at rush hour - about 5:30-6:00pm. Others have figured this out by now, too- which makes the chicken even drier after hours.

                                                              1. re: sqwertz

                                                                It looks like I missed quite a discussion while out of the country. Thanks for sharing your research notes, squertz. You’ve really put a lot of effort into making a delicious version of El Regio’s salsa. My own post was composed hastily and apparently was not very clear. When I wrote that ER used "a pureed green salsa—which, typically, can be made from a variety of types of chiles (like serranos) that have been roasted or not, along with seasonings like garlic, onion, oregano, salt, etc.," I was speaking generally about possible and typical ingredients in green salsa. I was not stating the components of ER's salsa.

                                                                I agree with Nab, however, that onion is likely involved. I have once—just once—almost reproduced this salsa, but I did use home-made crema fresca and a blend of chiles, including habañero. As I said earlier, I’ll need to try your mayo-based version, too.

                                                                The use of crema fresca was confirmed when I asked about the salsa's ingredients a few months ago. Of course, as I said above, I am only passing on one employee's reply. I did not think to dumpster-dive! Maybe I’ll try inquiring at a different location, just to see what I can find out. Or I could just ask someone else at the East Riverside locale. It’s the best one in Austin (in my opinion) and the only one in town that I frequent. I do also stop at the one in San Marcos and occasionally even one in San Antonio. I eat at El Regio pretty frequently, and the green salsas taste remarkably similar at all three locations that I visit.

                                                                And sweet100s, I was visiting a good chow location—London—but the dollar-to-pound exchange rate made it very hard to sample as much food as I would have liked! It was like paying double for everything. . .

                                                                1. re: MPH

                                                                  okay, after reading all the posts about El Regio I went there Saturday night around 7. I called first to see how late they were open. All I got was "no engles" ...click. We headed out anyway. There were 6 cars in line ahead of us which I took as a good sign. I ordered 3 extra salsas with my #1 pollo which confused the attendent until my husband finally said "uno pollo, tres salsas". We took our treasure all the way back to north Austin where we put together our tacos and tried out the much-talked-about green salsa. I know what your missing ingredient is - it's fire! Holy cow! I tried a drop about the size of a pea. My lips burned for 20 minutes. Apparently I'm a salsa wimp - I had no idea. Everything else was wonderful so it was totally worth it but it's definately not in the running for my favorite salsa. My vote - 1) pappasitos 2) Mesa Rosa - 620 location.

                                                                  1. re: mwreese

                                                                    I think one reason, besides the flavor, why lot's enjoy the green salsa at El Regio is because it IS hot. It's hard to find salsas that are hot enough!

                                                                    I was surprised at Mesa Rosa's salsa. I don't like the restaurant a heck of a lot, and the salsa was the bright spot. It is only a little spicy, but it is very well balanced.

                                                          2. re: mkwng

                                                            Holy cow! I've been there! I got a chicken burrito I thought was pretty darn good, but I didn't get any salsas and I didn't see anything else to order than carbon tacos...

                                                    2. Taco Deli. Fonda san Miguel. All of their salsas.

                                                      Curra's, Trudy's, Maudie's, Polvo's, Ana's are all good enough to eat too much of, all pretty similar.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: DrkBgrk

                                                        las manitas, hands down for spicy red salsa, it is the best i have ever had, i get a pint to go every time i eat there

                                                        el regio for the green sauce (i go to the one at ohlen & 183)

                                                        la casita on anderson just east of woodrow for a similar green sauce (and they make their own corn tortillas, a huge plus. i often stop there and get an order of double order of refried beans, a dozen corn tortillas, and a bunch of green sauce for about $5, and eat it throughout the week )

                                                        taco deli's dona sauce for a similar, but spicier, green sauce like regio's

                                                        1. re: sbhlaw

                                                          Am I the only one here not impressed with the dona sauce from Taco Deli? It kind of has a metallic or medicinal taste to me. Other than the heat which isn't that extremely hot but probably one of the 3 hottest in town, there's really nothing I find appealing about it.

                                                      2. I like the salsa at Camino Real (183 & Spicewood Springs-Big Lots shopping center). It is pretty standard stuff, and I don't get around to all the places mentioned here.
                                                        I also like the salsa at La Morada (Parmer/Mopac by the HEB).

                                                        1. Love El Regio's (or El Pollo Rico as I see they're changing their name) green sauce, along with the rest of the chowhound world. I like Maudie's and Trudy's, too. Juan In A Million is good but sometimes hit or miss in that it's mostly hot but not as flavorful as it could be.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Kaya_n_Austin

                                                            By far the best salsa i've ever had so far in town is Los Pinos out in Lakeway - perfect amount of spice, tomato, chipotle (I think), garlic and cilantro and onion. it's going ON. the homemade corn tortillas and red pork pozole makes me weep like a baby it's so good. a hint of epazote!! That chef rocks. And came from some heavy hitting restaurants downtown to start this modest little rock star of a mexican restaurant.

                                                            1. re: slowcoooked

                                                              Second that. Their salsa is by far the most addictive in Austin. Sooo garlicy, but the spices are right on. That with some homemade corn tortillas, the queso fundino and a beer and I'm in heaven.

                                                          2. Maudie’s, definitely. It’s hot but I absolutely love it. I’ve tried to recreate the recipe but I’ve never been very skilled in doing that. Does anyone have the recipe for Maudie’s hot sauce or a close approximation?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: thumperj

                                                              I second the request for Maudie's hot sauce.

                                                            2. For jalisco green: Grande Mart's taqueria (orange is great too) on Berkman, or Taqueria Sanchez on Cameron.

                                                              Agreed that trudy's has great salsas.

                                                              1. I ate at Reds Porch recently. We got chips and salsa as an appetizer. The salsa was really good. It was very thick and very tasty. My hands down favorite though is the salsa Central Market serves with their breakfast tacos. It's very garlicky and oh so good.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                  I had no idea that Central Market carried breakfast tacos...must be in the cafe at the North location? I've never seen breakfast tacos offered by the coffee station. I imagine that the salsa they serve is probably available in the bulk deli section.

                                                                  1. re: verily

                                                                    In the cafe at the south location.

                                                                  2. re: GenieinTX

                                                                    What did you think of Red's? I haven't been but heard it's loud, nice beer selection, food can vary.

                                                                  3. I've changed my favorite. It's now the intensely garlic salsa cruda at Pino's.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: amysuehere

                                                                      Where is Pino's? I googled it and didn't find anything.

                                                                      1. re: stephanieh


                                                                        Scroll down a bit and there's a phone number as well as an address.

                                                                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                                                          Thanks for digging that up for me! i can't tell if it's worth going out there for the entrees, but I'm intrigued with anything "intensely garlic".

                                                                          1. re: stephanieh

                                                                            Tacos a la cart are a good deal. I like the pastor and the beef fajita. Shrimp one is terrible. I also like the chili rellenos and the tomatillo chicken/cheese enchiladas. I hear the conchita pibil is also very good, but haven't tried it. Charro beans are usually very good as well. Salsa is intensely garlic to say the least, but crave-worthy