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Jul 5, 2009 11:03 PM

Where can I find some Chile de Arbol hot sauce in San Diego?

This has really become a mission for me. I've been looking everywhere for some bottled chile de arbol hot sauce but I can't find it anywhere. I've been to Vons, Ralphs, Food4Less, Whole Foods, a few local mexican markets and none of them have it. I called Trader Joe's and they say they don't have it. I found a post here by a guy named Josh who said he bought some Salsa Encino chile de arbol at a Northgate market, but it was like a year and a half ago . I called the ones in Coronado, Chula Vista, and Escondido but none of them have it, although 2 of the places sounded like they weren't sure when they told me. I don't know if there was some language miscommunication. There's an Azteca Mexican Market in Mira Mesa that makes fresh chile de arbol hot sauce and sells it by the jar but I really wanted a bottled brand so it's easier to pour and hopefully doesn't need refrigeration so I can take it with me just in case.

The only place where I've seen plenty of chile de arbol bottled hot sauces is on the internet, but the shipping prices always kills it for me. I'm about ready to bite the bullet and just order it online but I wanted to check here one last time before I do. Anyone know where I can find some please?!

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  1. I was just at Northgate 2 weeks ago, and they still have both Salsa Encino, and another brand as well.

    1. The Northgate on 43rd at the 805.

      1. Depending on your location you can also try/call Pancho Villa market on El Cajon Blvd. where it crossed the 805.

        If you're ambitious, you could also try making your own, it's pretty easy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DiningDiva

          On a side note, my favorite carnitas restaurant makes a chile arbol salsa that includes fresh jalapeno and garlic. It is always balanced - not too spicy and lasts for days (more than a week) in the fridge without getting bitter. I have tried to replicate this on my own with NO luck.

        2. OMG thank you everyone! You don't know how frustrating it's been trying to find this stuff! This is my favorite type of hot sauce and the one that is the least sold in supermarkets. I'm going to buy a whole bunch of bottles tonight! Thanks!!

          1. Ok so I bought 2 bottles of Salsa Encino and a bottle of La Costena Taqueria style salsa at Northgate. The Salsa Encino was pretty decent, although it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for a sauce that tastes very similar to the hot sauce you get at the taco shops. You know, the orangish sauce that comes in the round plastic containers that has a mild, smoky, non-vinegary, hint of citrus taste to it. The Salsa Encino is more vinegary and has a snappier pepper taste.

            I actually thought the La Costena was better tasting than Encino, at least on mexican food, which is all I tried them on so far. It's tomato based but not overpoweringly so like regular salsa on chips would be and tasted closer to what I wanted.

            But I want something that's JUST like the taco shop style hot sauce. Does anyone know a brand like that?

            I also bought a Zaaschilla Avocado salsa but I'm not too crazy about it. Tastes kinda sour.

            5 Replies
            1. re: bugmenot

              Have you tried Valentina hot sauce? It's probably closer to the color you want and comes in a round tub-like bottle. It's very good and found all over central Mexico.

              San Diego taco shop salsa can be a little difficult to duplicate since it's often not a bottled sauce. Have you tried asking a taco shop where you like the salsa for the recipe.

              1. re: bugmenot

                Taco shop salsa is made in a lot of different ways, and isn't necessarily a pure chile de arbol salsa. Also, if you talk to Cesar at Mama Testa about his arbol and sesame seed salsa (one of the best salsas I've tried anywhere), he'll tell you about how the flavor varies based on the season.

                I've seen some taco shops making their salsa from Asian chili paste diluted with other ingredients.

                1. re: Josh

                  Work at a taco shop and get the recipe .

                  1. re: sdJoe619

                    Hmmm...looks like you've got some catching up to do.

                    Well, this is an interesting old thread.

                    I think chilies de arbol are a little more flavorful than cayennes, but they're closely related and the two look/taste similar. I keep both on hand.

                    I was on a similar mission as OP, but instead of chile de arbol I was looking for tepin hot sauce. I finally found some; it was either at Northgate or North Park Produce, I don't recall. It was good on some things and had that unique tepin flavor, but I've yet to go looking for more.

                    I'd say go for habanero hot sauce. The three that I keep around at all times these days are: red Mexico Lindo (still made by Castillo but re-named for some reason); red La Guacamaya; and red El Yucateco. All include food coloring(s) chosen to give them an orange-ish red color in the bottle. Or some other hue. In fact I think in the case of El Yucateco the food coloring is the only difference between the "red" and "green" varieties. Just depends on what you're putting it on, esthetically speaking.

                    1. re: DoctorChow

                      Thanks for the bump...this thread is a reminder of my numerous failures at trying to replicate local taco shop hot sauces. Never got close even with all the information here.