Great Mexican Food
Ninfa's by the bottle: The Original Houston eatery brings its salsa to thegrocery store
Nothing can replicate the unique near perfection of Houston's Original Ninfa's on Navigation. Not the embarrassing franchise chain that proliferates around that city with the same name, and not even the later concepts by the Laurenzo family. You might recall the old Ninfa's on west Sixth a few years back. So I didn't know what to think when I heard that Original Ninfa's was releasing a line of salsas for sale in Central Market and select H-E-B stores.
But several store-bought flour tortillas and about a quarter of a bottle later, I can breathe a sigh of relief. This salsa is good. It's really good.
Ninfa's executive chef Alex Padilla worked with salsa specialist Dan Jardine to recreate the fresh Ninfa's salsa flavor in a retail package. The duo came up with four versions: mild and hot house red roasted salsas, green hatch chile salsa, and chipotle salsa, all of which are all natural, gluten free and preservative free.
I got my hands on a bottle of the chipotle version, and it's truly addictive. It's laced with a smoky, dry heat — I won't say it hits four-alarm status, but it does pack a kick — and while it's not exactly chunky, there's a substantial quality to it. From the color to the smell, the earthy spiciness of chipotle is front and center.
The house salsas are made to imitate the version served with chips on every table in the restaurant, and Padilla says he's planning to integrate his new green hatch and chipotle recipes into the Ninfa's repertoire. But despite never having been served at the restaurant, the chipotle salsa still has an undeniable Ninfa's flavor.
The Ninfa's salsa won't replace a trip to the East End of Houston for some of the best Mexican food on the planet, but it might replace the no-name salsa currently in your fridge. The bottles are $4.49-$4.98 at Central Market and H-E-B.
Ever been to the Original Ninfa's on Navigation and what do you think of Ninfa's and their salsa plans?