A few years ago, salsa surpassed ketchup as America's number one condiment. Shocking? Not for Phoenicians. Especially since there is a Mexican food joint on practically every corner in the Valley of the Sun.
Which also made this an especially difficult list to compile. Narrowing down all the great salsas in town to just 10 wasn't easy but we think we managed to put together a pretty awesome list of the red (and green) stuff we just can't live without.
10. Red Sauce, Los Taquitos -- This simple taco shop really packs a punch with their zesty red taco sauce. Flavorful and balanced with just the right amount of heat, sweetness, and smoke -- we would put this stuff on everything if we could. (And we always contemplate hijacking a bottle and smuggling it out in our purse to make that dream a reality.)
9. Globe Salsa, Casa Reynoso -- Is that cinnamon we're tasting? Maybe a dash of nutmeg? We'll probably never find out because there isn't a chance in hell the Reynosos are giving up the recipe for their salsa. The mix of chunky tomatoes, onions, and cilantro has just the slightest hint of heat, the perfect match for a bean and cheese burro. Want something hotter? Just ask, and they'll bring out a little jar of the secret hot stuff. It's just as good as the original but with a burst of heat.
8. The Salsa Trio, Canteen -- At Canteen, variety is the spice of life in the form of a homemade salsa trio. Savor the smoky chipotle-spiked red salsa, a tangy tomatillo salsa, and good old-fashioned pico de gallo. While each stands on its own, it also holds true that you can double dip across a couple salsa varieties and still come out on top. Each packs plenty of flavor and a surprising amount of heat, but if you're craving more fire, ask for the extra-hot ghost chile salsa that Canteen keeps in the back.
7. Chunky Salsa, Mattas -- This traditional Mexican food spot in Mesa has been serving up their signature chunky salsa for almost 60 years. That's a long time to be makin' salsa! The red stuff is on the mild side but has an awesome homestyle flavor and you can tell by the vivid colors that it's made from fresh ingredients. Yum!
6. Tomato Fresca and Spicy Tomatillo , Cien Agaves -- This Scottsdale taco shop may be known for its extensive selection of tequilas and gourmet tacos, but the two housemade salsas shouldn't be overlooked. The chunky Tomato Fresca is mild and refreshing while the spicier tomatillo salsa is sweet with a smoky kick. The only downside is that we ended up eating so much of the stuff, we hardly ever have room for our tacos.
5. Habanero and Salsa Verde, La Tolteca -- Next time you place an order for your giant carnitas burrito, grab an order of La Tolteca's fabulous housemade chips -- you're gonna need them to scoop up all the great stuff at the salsa bar, especially the market's salsa verde and habanero salsas. The green salsa has just the right amount of heat to liven up the mellow tomatillo and the habanero has a super-spicy kick, perfect on any of Tolteca's hearty tortas.
4. Smokey Salsa, The Mission -- If you find yourself at this upscale Scottsdale Latin restaurant, we highly advise you order the tableside guacamole, not only because it's one of the best in town but because it comes with a side of Chef Matt Carter's amazing salsa. The robust, smokey chipotle blend paired with the warm crispy chips is almost worth the $12 price tag on its own. And that's saying something.
3. Hot Sauce, Carolina's Mexican Food -- On more than one occasion, we've watched our out-of-town friends pump out cup after cup of this medium-spicy taco sauce and then consume what seems like gallons of the stuff before they head to the airport to return to their Carolina's-less cities. The spicy taco sauce has a slight nuttiness to it, and though it's relatively thin, it still has enough body to cling to one of Carolina's thick chips.
2. Red and Green Hot Sauces, Los Dos Molinos -- It's some of the hottest salsa around and, like Los Dos' margaritas, not for the faint of heart. The fiery red sauce is smoky and full of roasted red chile flavor, and the brutally hot green salsa has a wonderful slow burn and is loaded with extra hot New Mexican Hatch chiles. Be sure to have an ice-cold beer on hand to wash down these demon salsas. Or a margarita, if you dare.
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1. Cilantro, Pecan, and Strawberry Salsas, La Condesa -- With so many choices, we couldn't pick just one of La Condesa's unique salsas -- so we picked three! The cilantro salsa with a touch of lime is addicting and pairs perfectly with their fish tacos.The strawberry salsa is mild and sweet with a one-of-a-kind flavor that complements their battered dogfish shark tacos. And the pecan salsa is so creamy and amazing we could eat it with a spoon.
All our favorites lists also are available on our Best Of app -- see it in action here.
And check out our other lists: Ten Favorite Phoenix Hot Sauces and Salsas Top Ten Spots for Mac 'n' Cheese in the Valley Three Favorite Espresso Shots in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Farmers' Markets Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Eleven Favorite Favorite Places for Sushi in the Valley Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Cupcakes Eleven Favorite Barbecue Joints in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Wine Bars Ten Favorite Phoenix Irish Restaurant & Pubs Six Favorite Specialty Cocktails in Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Craft Beer Bars Ten Favorite Gourmet Pizza Shops in the Valley Five Favorite Japanese Restaurants in Phoenix Ten Favorite Margaritas in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Coffee Shops in Phoenix Five Favorite Thai Restaurants in Metro Phoenix Eleven Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Happy Hours Five Favorite Sonoran Dogs in the Valley Ten Favorite Hot Dogs in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Desserts in Phoenix Ten Favorite First Date Restaurants Ten Favorite Burgers in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Downtown Phoenix Restaurants for Late Night Dining Ten Favorite Vegetarian Entrees in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Greater Phoenix