Salsa Brava


Chicken Dorado Street Tacos with the salsa caddy in the background.

Salsa Brava is a popular Mexican restaurant in Flagstaff. It's somewhat "famous" from having been featured on Guy Fieri's Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I make my own judgments about such things but it is a well-known establishment. I've only been there a few times and not recently but decided to revisit this weekend since I was in the mood for chicken tacos.

I think the best thing about the restaurant is the salsa caddy they deliver when you arrive. If I remember right, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a salsa bar, but this is still pretty good. There are enough chips for up to a group of four and the salsas are interesting. They deliver three levels of heat but also vary in ingredients. The mildest is a pico de gallo which appears to be made with chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, and a small amount of mild green chili. I couldn't taste citrus so I'm unsure if that is included in their pico though it is normally included. The medium salsa is a pureed tomato salsa with green chili and bits of chopped cilantro in it similar to the standard in American-Mexican restaurants. The hottest is a pineapple habanero which is sweet with a burning heat just enough to raise a mild sweat on your face. It wasn't the hottest salsa I've eaten but it was respectable and the flavor was unique compared to other local eateries.

I ordered the Chicken Dorado street tacos for an entree. The "dorado" part refers to the grilled corn tortilla (dorado = golden). The chicken is pulled and the taco came with lettuce and shredded white cheese. These were satisfactory for chicken tacos but I won't say they are the best in town. They were good.

Side dishes were refried pinto beans and Mexican rice. The beans were delicious and the rice was fine, although their menu says corn rice and I didn't see any corn in it.

The service was messed up, and my server did not attend my drink and then assigned food orders to me from the table next to me. This caused my bill to be almost three times what it should have been. I suspected a problem since the (different) server tried to deliver the food to me after I had already eaten. I insisted on an itemized bill and she realized her error, but even if she made a mistake, I think the other server should have reported the issue to her. Restaurant service 101. I still tipped adequately because I sympathize with food industry workers but that's a down check against the restaurant and perhaps the management. Maybe she was new?

My verdict: Salsa Brava has fairly good food, but is perhaps a little overrated since it was on the Food Network. On this particular occasion, the service was a wreck. This is why I usually go to other places in town.


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