Salsitas: Blame it on the Alcohol
Hey, readers, get ready. We're putting new meaning into the term "street food." For Chow Bella's latest mission -- "Eating 16th Street" -- we've employed a young woman who's literally eaten her way around the world. Alex Rodriguez has eaten borscht in Moscow, steak in Buenos Aires and a "life-changing panna cotta" in Bra, a small town in the Piemonte region of Italy. Now we've set her palate loose on Central Phoenix's 16th Street. Rodriguez will try it all, from Jefferson Street north to Thomas Road -- and report back, place by place.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez Cafeteria-style Salsitas
The Place: Salsitas
The Food: Mexican fast food
The Backstory: Phoenix chain of quick-serve Mexican food with 4 locations, including one in our "Eating 16th Street" boundaries.
The Price: Dirt cheap
It happens to the best of us: You went against your better judgement and partied hard on a Sunday night. You haven't forgotten that you've got a 9 a.m. meeting with the boss to discuss numbers, and the fact that you haven't forgotten is the worst part. A gross amount of liquor is sloshing around your insides, and every step you take forward is painfully nauseating.
You need something to soak that up.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez At nighttime this probably shines like a beacon of hope for your drunk ass.
Enter Salsitas. The 24-hour Mexican joint is always there for you in times of need - good thing too, because otherwise, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to eat there.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez Suitable for adults and children alike, I guess.
This small Phoenix chain of Mexican fare might have been the bottom point of our quest for greatness along la calle 16 (though of course we can't say for sure until we reach the end).
Let's get straight to business.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez Quesadillas de pollo
We ordered the chicken quesadillas and a lemonade. Now, to be fair, the lemonade was awesome. Sweet and refreshing. The quesadillas, though, were far from awesome. While they were huge (and therefore somewhat worthy of my $4), they were gross. Oily, bland chicken, bland cheese, did we mention oily? The list goes on. I found my self asking if I'd done anything wrong to deserve such a bad meal. Karma, I guess.
Adamant to not have a bad meal, we also tried the chicken enchiladas.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez Enchi-no-nos
The one and only positive about these enchi-no-nos (as I've thoughtfully dubbed them), is that the the flavor of the corn tortilla really stood out - and I love corn tortillas. Aside from that lone pro, though, the cons practically flooded from the plate. The sauce was bland (surprise), the chicken had no kick or life to it whatsoever, and the beans and rice were all right.
I aimed to liven up the food with salsas from the salsa stand, but just the sight of it left me weary.
Photo by Alex Rodriguez You'd think a place called Salsitas would have good salsas.
It was about 1 p.m. when we were there, and the salsas looked like they'd been sitting there all night with no sign of refilling, or even being fresh, for that matter. We tried a green and red sauce which livened up the food a little, but not nearly to the extent necessary.
If you're piss-face drunk, have a go at it. You'll be amazed what you find delicious in such circumstances. But if you're stone cold sober, like we were, and find yourself wandering in for lunch, it's best to turn around.
I don't consider myself a picky eater - I'll usually eat it as long as it's not moving. But coming across the edible atrocities at Salsitas took me to a new low. It's not even that I expected much from the place in the first place. I don't go everywhere expecting to be wowed. But the cardboard ceiling, for example, is a health code violation waiting to happen. There was no A/C - and if there was, it didn't seem to be working at the time we were there.
The worst part about all of this was that the girl at the register was so nice - she made me want to like the experience, but not even her pearly white smile could help Salsita's situation.
Graphic by Claire Lawton I'm here to eat, y'all!
Eating 16th Street, So Far:
Eating 16th Street: Let's Begin at Pollo Sabroso
La Frontera Taco Truck: A Hit and a Run
Asadero Norte de Sonora: Family Friendly and Fit for a King
Mariscos Playa Hermosa: From the Shores of Mexico to a Colorful Central Phoenix Restaurant