So, ever since moving to the Valley, my husband and I have been on the lookout for a great, non-chain Mexican restaurant. Our old favorite standby, Don Antonios, is just too far away for us now. Finally, after a lengthy conversation about how much I missed chips and salsa, I finally decided to get myself on Yelp and find a new place. The reality is, there are many Mexican restaurants in the Valley, but I didn’t want to go to a bad one. And, it’s impossible to tell. The best Mexican spots are holes in the wall, but so are the worst! So, off to Yelp I went.
I typed in “Mexican” and “Sherman Oaks”, and then sorted by top rated. The best, closest restaurant happened to be in Van Nuys, called Salsa and Beer. The only bad things that were mentioned were complaints about lack of parking and long wait times. I figured this had to mean the place was good! Seeing as how it was 5pm on a Wednesday, I wasn’t too concerned. What sealed the deal was all of the fabulous reviews on the free spicy bean dip that came with the chips. Sign me up!
So, we reviewed the directions, and off we went. Salsa and Beer is located in a strip mall, so that was the first sign that things would be good. When we got out of the car (one available spot!) our noses were filled with delicious smells - sign number two! I was getting excited. And, when we got there, the evening rush hadn’t started yet, so there were plenty of tables available.
The wait staff were all extremely friendly. Right away we got our drink order and our chips and bean dip. (You can also get multiple salsas from their salsa bar):
The picture above doesn’t do it justice. I don’t know what is in that bean dip - some sort of crazy mixture of lard and crack, I guess - but the stuff was amazing. Even better, this is a preview of the refried beans that come with most meals. Needless to say, the husband and I went through two of these dishes of dip.
Next, it was on to choose our meals. Honestly, I think this was the biggest menu I have seen at a Mexican restaurant. They have a whole page devoted to different types of enchiladas! The husband and I didn’t know what to choose, so we decided to ask our waitress. She suggested the three meat fajitas (shrimp, chicken, and steak), the molcajete burrito, the fish tacos, and the shrimp tacos. From those choices, we went with the first two: the husband got the fajitas, and I got the molcajete burrito with chicken.
As you can see from the picture, the fajitas is a huge meal. Not only are there three, perfectly seasoned meats on a bed of veggies, but there is also a side of rice, beans, and a small salad. What specifically stood out to the husband was the shrimp. Typically he is not a huge shrimp person. Sure he’ll eat it, but he doesn’t really get to excited about it. But he could not stop raving about this shrimp. Even a week later he was mentioning that he couldn’t get over how well it was seasoned. Even though this meal is huge, he ate the entire thing. Oh, and you can’t forget to mention those beans again - amazing!
Ooh, and above is my malcajete burrito. To be honest, I didn’t know what malcajete was. I was used to restaurants saying, do you want red or green sauce with your burrito. But, basically it’s a red, tomato-based, spicy sauce with a hint of lime. Very yummy. And then they top it with cheese? Crazy. The biggest thing about this burrito is that the chicken was grilled and chopped white meat. Normally, burritos have shredded meat in them, which is good too, but not this one. This was the king of burritos. The chicken was so well cooked. It was also loaded with more salsa, onions, and who knows what other kinds of deliciousness. You do have to be careful of the whole, dried chilies that seemed to be randomly stuck into the burrito. But, this was definitely worth ordering, and very big. I only got through about half of it.
Salsa and Beer is our new Mexican standby. I am not sure there is any reason to ever go anywhere else, at least in the Valley. Just writing this blog, I can’t wait to go back.
Salsa and Beer is located at White Oak and Van Owen at 6740 White Oak Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406.
Phone: (818) 609-8877