XOXO, Salsa Girl

The Dish on All Things Salsa

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Myspace Top 8, Mysalsa Top 8

There’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing where to go out for dinner. It always seems like the lists go on-and-on when you aren’t trying to pick where to go, but as soon as you need to think of where to chow down, you brain fart.

I know that there is nothing worse than that brain fart. Except for ….well, we won’t go there.

So I’ve decided to create this map to help prevent any frustration when choosing a Mexican meal. I have reverted back to the Myspace days and created a Mysalsa “TOP 8” with Mexican food restaurants. Additionally, I have included a brief explanation why I love each.

Just like we used to claim about our friendship rankings, I will say here too: these are in no particular order.

Valley of the Sun Valley of Salsa Map



Sam’s Cafe
They have the most delicious chips in the world. Some of their chips are dusted with sugar, while others are coated in zesty seasoning. The salsa is house-made, somewhat sweet and really roasty.

Gallo Blanco Cafe & Bar
My tagline for this place is “You can taste the difference.” The vegetables, the meat, the tortillas, and everything in between are fresh and they just taste different. They use organic ingredients and it makes all the difference. You won’t leave this place feeling heavy like you do after most other Mexican restaurants.

Tee Pee Mexican Food
The old-school restaurant (it’s been there for nearly 40 years) environment here makes the food taste even better than it would if it were served anywhere else. Their chips are crispy and served warm. Hands-down, the best menu item is the “Mary Lou” with green chile. That dish holds a special place in my heart because it is the dish my mom always orders. Hi Mom.


Chelsea’s Kitchen
This is not necessarily a Mexican restaurant, but their Mexican food is insanely amazing. The chilaquiles that they serve for brunch are the single most delicious breakfast dish I have ever tried. Also, all tacos are incredible. And so is everything.


The Original Burrito Company
This is both the least expensive and the most “classic” of all of my top 8. Their salsa is so fresh and chunky (and I drink it by the cup-full) and the burritos are only around $4. The classic bean and cheese burrito is the best, just because it is.

Los Taquitos
This place wins all types of awards, and it has been on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Their street tacos are only $1.15 or $1.25 each, and legitimately taste like the tacos I have had in Mexico. Their hot sauces are so amazing and spicy as well. I could go on for days about this place. Maybe one day I will do just that.


Serrano’s Mexican Food Restaurants
This one also holds a special place in my heart. It is my granny’s favorite. They serve bean dip at the beginning of the meal–which is an automatic point-earner. They also whip up a fantastic chorizo and egg burro that I love. There’s lots of nostalgia associated with this place for me too.


Valle Luna
If we’re ranking based on ambiance, this place is up in the top (with Gallo Blanco and Tee Pee). At Valle Luna, you can eat your fajitas while overlooking a lake. It doesn’t get much more sizzlingly tranquil.

…And there it was:  Mysalsa Top 8

Hopefully, unlike that which ensued when I used to rearrange my Myspace Top 8, there will be no drama as a result of this post.


Salsa Girl


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It’s finally here…


Mitt Roastedchile vs. Barachipotle Obama

The Arizona Republic came out with their endorsements for candidates and ballot propositions for the general elections about a week ago. So, I too have decided to offer my readers (hi mom) my very own, exclusive XOXO, Salsa Girl 2012 Salselections endorsements.

Here are the candidates and propositions on my 2012 Salsa Ballot:

I voted a “best” in each of the following categories:

  • Store-bought salsa
  • Farmer’s market (local) salsa
  • Sit-down restaurant chip & salsa combination


  • BEST Store-bought salsa

I have single-handedly consumed around 12-15 jars of these just this school-year.

Sprouts Organic Fire Roasted and Chipotle salsas are both incredible. They both have alot to offer the economy of the salsa world, both work well with other foods. But when it truly comes down to the nitty-gritty taste-test, the Chipotle gets my vote.

  • BEST Farmer’s market (local) salsa

Rose Llanuza of Lil’ Sassy’s Salsa stands pridefully behind her table at the Ahwatukee Farmer’s Market

I remember growing up (and walking 10 miles in the snow uphill barefooted to school) and going to the farmers market or festivals and to get Lil’ Sassy’s Salsa. I boldly approached the woman behind my favorite hand-canned salsa a few weeks ago to learn more.

THRILLING BACKGROUND INFO ON LIL’ SASSY’S SALSA: owner Rose Llanuza kindly gave me the full rundown of how her flourishing salsa brand came to exist. It all started when she planted chile peppers in her backyard and a had a few too many. Llanuza then started experimenting with different recipes, chose the name Lil’ Sassy’s Salsa because “everything else was already taken,” and she’s been branding herself ever since.

“In Germany, everybody cans. It’s just what you do,” Llanuza said. While they may ‘can’ sauerkraut in Germany, this is Arizona and she ‘cans’ salsa like nobody’s business. Yes we can!

  • BEST Sit-down restaurant chip & salsa combination

House-made chips and salsa at Sam’s Cafe

In what was the hardest decision of all, I finally came to conclude that Sam’s Cafe at The Arizona Center has the #1 best chip and salsa combination. I interrogated waitress Sarah Becker about her chips and salsa. Sam’s Cafe makes both their chips and their salsa in-house.

 “Behind the scenes we call it ‘roja salsa,’ but to customers it has no name,” Becker said. I had to chuckle when she said this about their roasted red salsa. It’s true, customers don’t care if it has no name, they just want to eat.

THRILLING INSIDER SCOOP ON THEIR CHIPS AND SALSA: Their chips are incredible, too, because they are either seasoned with “New Mexico blacken seasoning” , sweet and spicy seasoning and powdered sugar (on the wonton–yes, wonton–chips ) or just salt (on the sweet potato chips). Becker also taught me that they let their salsa marinate for a whole day, and each batch takes two days to complete. 

Two-day marinated “Roja Salsa”

I love to catch waiters off-guard when I ask them about their chips and salsa. Nobody asks questions when the chips and salsa are free. Except for me. I want to be an informed voter, so I always get the scoop before I place my votes.

There you have it: The Official Salsa Girl 2012 Salselections.

I love this political system because no matter who wins, I get to eat salsa.


Salsa Girl

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Chips, Salsa, Ahi Tuna and Elections 2012–Which doesn’t belong?

BREAKING NEWS: My roommate/best friend/co-partner in excelling at life/classmate, Amelia Goe, and I rule the journalistic world.

We just scarfed down two heaping bowls of chips and salsa and a full serving of seared ahi tuna and rice during class time while simultaneously discussing politics and practicing journalism.

We wondered: What’s harder to choose: what to eat for lunch or who to vote for president?

As it turns out–our presumptions were correct. Food is easier.

Check our quick turn-around mobile story, Menu vs. Ballot.


….Hearst Award to follow.