How To Judge A Mexican Restaurant's Quality From Chips And Salsa

Chips and salsa have become a defining feature of Mexican restaurants, insists Eddie's Mexican Restaurant, and with so many recipes and different salsa types, it's understandable that restaurants want to gain a competitive edge when possible. 

From tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices to cilantro, lime, corn, and even pineapple, the ingredients selected can make a big impact when it comes to the taste and texture of salsa. Chunky or smooth, mildly spicy or packed with heat, salsa can either play with or drown out the flavors of other dishes served — unless, of course, the restaurant has carefully considered which flavor elements they are bringing to the table.

Details matter, especially when it comes to food. "If a restaurant puts time and energy into the basics, then they'll put that into everything else on the menu too," Chef Nick Bajal told Insider. And sure, while you can make your own tostadas and tortilla chips at home, sometimes it's nice to treat yourself to a quality meal that you don't need to clean up afterward. But how do you know that you've sat down at an establishment that can deliver a quality meal?

Start with the basics

To get a better idea of the kind of restaurant you're ordering from, sample the chips and salsa, Chef Nick Bajal advised Insider. As the chef explains, the best restaurants take extra effort and time to serve quality house-made salsas and fresh chips, instead of taking shortcuts and serving store-bought salsas or stale, old chips.

Restaurant Clicks also judges Mexican restaurants by their salsa, reasoning that if the chips and salsa miss the mark, the rest of the dishes to come most likely will as well. If the chips and salsa that arrive at the table are delicious, however, a standard has been set for the rest of the meal. In a perfect world, per the outlet, fresh salsa is made at your table and delivers just enough spice to complement a platter of salted corn tortilla chips served warm. 

Easy Appetizers agrees that fresh salsa is tough to beat, and when flavorful, high-quality tomatoes are used to make the dip, there's a good chance not much will be left at the bottom of the bowl — and the rest of the dishes presented throughout the meal will be just as thoughtfully prepared.