Best Salsa - 2004
Salsa isn't just for double dipping, y'know. In Mexico, a meal without a bowl of this beloved condiment is as lacking as menudo without the pig intestines. There are a thousand saucy varieties to choose from, from the familiar tomato-onion salsa cruda to more complex regional variations involving avocado leaves, pumpkin seeds, every kind of chili pepper, and even, happily, tequila. Here in El Norte our salsa selection is limited, but the taquerias of the Mission are a good varietal resource. Our favorite is at Papalote, a trim little grill off Valencia. They molcajete together a house salsa that's rich, smoky, and spicy on several levels, with a complex, long-roasted flavor reminiscent of a good mole, a pleasant little afterkick, and a dark red-orange hue flecked with herb and pepper. Sure, you can dunk a chip into its magisterial depths, but this salsa's especially good for snarking up one of Papalote's quesadillas or the machaca con huevo.