Feel the Burn

A taste test of Papalote's new salsas

We're willing to wager that there are precious few other brands of salsa that have their own Twitter feed.

Then again, the mania Papalote's version inspires indicates it's not your average condiment.

Earlier this month, the taqueria launched three new varieties of its beloved sauce: Habanero, Serrano-Tomatillo and Chipotle, available exclusively at the taquerias and by mail to SF expats.

Each of the three salsas ($7 a jar) builds off the recipe for Papalote's original salsa, which is made according to a secret recipe. But this recipe has been more or less revealed; the only mystery that remains is what type of chile is used in the original salsa, though we now know it's not habanero, serrano or chipotle.

That's because all four salsas share the same basic ingredients: fire-roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic. But oh, what a difference a chile can make.

The Habanero has a lingering burn–at the end of a meal, nose-running confirms it contains a wallop of one of the world's hottest chiles.

The Serrano-Tomatillo has a lighter, fresh flavor, and the Chipotle version a pleasant bitterness. All four share a creamy, blended texture.

Plans to have the three new salsas in widespread distribution by 2012 are in the works. But for Papalote salsa fans, we're guessing that's too long to wait.

Papalote, 3409 24th St. (at Mission St.), 415-970-8815; or 1777 Fulton St. (at Masonic St.), 415-776-0106; papalotesalsa.com