OC's Oil Salsa Sellers

Categories: Local Eats
Orange County has more than its shares of great salsas--the chocolate mole at El Fortín, a chile de arbol concoction sold at Rivera Mexican Food, blindingly hot habaneros at El Bukanis, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, Conde Cakes, and--breaking news!--the REAL Taco Adobe in Orange, and more I'll keep to myself for the meanwhile. None perplex me more as a subspecies, however, than oil salsas. Although the ones I'm about to speak of all deserve to make you sweat, I just don't get them.

I first encountered oil-based hot sauces not at a Mexican joint but at Chinese restaurants. When I had my first wab taste at El Portal de Veracruz, I attributed it to some Chinese-Mexican interplay befitting the coastal state's cuisine. But I then found another such condiment at a nameless taco truck that parks in the lot of China-Mex Super Buffet in SanTana (don't bother with that unique combo; Edwin didn't like it). The taco truck's tacos please enough but cost too much at $1.25, but come here and load up on their oil salsa.

That one is thick and gritty; the one offered in squeeze bottles at El Cabrito flows smoother, the better to spike your birria and consommé. But the best salsa de aceite I've yet tasted in an Orange County restaurant is at Taquería Los Grandes (of which you'll read more about really soon...). Most of the eaters here squeeze out a fine, albeit rudimentary red salsa, but next to the counter are bowls containing a salsa that looks like new motor oil. I took some home to put on my Taquería Tapatía burrito, and all the seeds fell to the bottom of a Styrofoam cup with such density that I had to scrape deeply to free them. No matter; that salsa tricks you into thinking it won't burn you, the finest bit of Mexican duplicity since the 1986 amnesty.

Anyone know other salsa de aceite in la naranja?

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