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3:35 p.m. Saturday: Best Salsa Verde 

El Farolito

You've been fantasizing about it for days. The exquisite blend of tasty tomatillos, crunchy chopped onions, sprigs of cilantro, and chunks of avocado has haunted your thoughts, not letting you rest or sleep. You crave it, big time, and it's driving you mad. Now it's Saturday afternoon, and it's time to do something about it. First, round up the family or gather up your crew, then hop on the freeway and go to the Mall. Either Fruitvale Station or San Leandro will do, because you're sure to get hungry while perusing the racks, and you're within striking distance of your goal on the way back. Go ahead and ignore the fast-food joints, because once your browsing or shopping is completed, it's time to finally taste the object of your desire: El Farolito's legendary green salsa, which surely should be considered one of the Wonders of the World. The taqueria's original recipe, which screams authenticity, cannot be had at big supermarkets nor replicated at large Mexican-themed restaurant chains. Its appeal lies in its amazing flavor, which towers above both red kinds of salsas -- the thick, reddish-brown mole and the mild onion-and-tomato-saturated picante. You ladle it yourself into little plastic containers from huge chrome tureens placed at the side of the counter, which is part of the experience. Put it on top of a tortilla chip, add it to your super burrito or quesadilla suiza, or smother your enchilada with it. You can even season your torta or flauta with it; it's lip-smacking good every time. And just in case you're a salsa snob, rest assured that the Oakland restaurant's green stuff is just as tasty as the verde at its sister location, in SF's Mission. Tip #1: Get there in the afternoon, between the lunch and dinner rushes, and you won't have to wait too long. Tip #2: order chips to go and stock up on two or three cups on your way out.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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