I decided a little while ago that I’d like to gradually sample as many restaurants downtown as possible. It’s proven to be more difficult than I expected it to be, primarily because my employer is kind enough to provide us free catered lunches daily. Let’s face it, it’s hard to get motivated to spend money on something that you can get for free. A few weeks ago, though, one of our new senior vice presidents wanted to take the accounting group out to lunch, and one of our staff accountants suggested Wild Salsa, a Mexico City-style restaurant a couple of blocks from our office in downtown Dallas. I’m always game for something new, and blog post ideas, so I was happy to tag along.
Wild Salsa, Dallas
- 1800 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75201
- Hours: M-Th 11am – 10pm; Fri & Sat 11am – Midnight
- Price: $15-25 per person, no alcohol
- Directions: at the corner of Main and St. Paul Streets. Valet parking is available on the Main Street side; several cheap surface lots and garages are available a couple of blocks east on Elm Street. Or if you’d prefer not to drive downtown, park at the DART Mockingbird Station (on Mockingbird Lane just east of Hwy 75/Central Expressway), take a Blue, Red, or Orange train southbound to St. Paul Station, and walk 3 blocks south to Main Street.
Wild Salsa is a Mexican restaurant, but not the typical gooey Tex Mex you typically see here. “Tex Mex” is, in fact, a pure Texas creation, invented in San Antonio many years ago. The fare here is real Mexican food, or more accurately, Mexico City-style, similar to the more established Javier’s in the Park Cities area. As with many new restaurants these days, Wild Salsa has also latched onto the “Farm to Table” trend, sourcing its ingredients from a variety of Texas suppliers. Several of which, naturally, advertise that they sell organic or free-range vegetables and meats. I will confess I’m not a fan of organic/free range restaurants or shops. I find those buzzwords for “overpriced” and “pretentious” in my experience, but I’m always willing to keep an open mind. Really, a restaurant can call itself whatever it wants in my book as long as the food is good.
I started off with a favorite of mine, queso blanco.
So far, so good. The queso was delicious – thick but not gluey, fresh, and moderately spicy from the helping of green chiles. It went very well with the homemade tortilla chips. I only wished I’d ordered the version with the chorizo instead, as I bet the spicy sausage would have paired well with the queso. Even better, the queso didn’t turn to glue after it had been sitting for awhile, like too many queso bowls do. One problem – it was served lukewarm.
Moving on to the main course, I ordered the three cheese Sonoran enchiladas, served with both red chile sauce and cream sauce and served with red cabbage and an agave vinaigrette on top.
The enchiladas were tasty, as was the cream sauce (just be aware that unlike Tex Mex, this isn’t cheese overload). The red chile sauce wasn’t all that hot, but had a touch of bitterness that actually complemented the cream sauce pretty well. It actually reminded me somewhat of the chili powder mixed with oil that we eat dosas with in South India. I didn’t care much for the cabbage and vinaigrette, though. Neither one really mixes with enchiladas, and the combination of both with the somewhat bitter red sauce made for a bitter, acidic overload. I just pushed both off to the side. And continuing a trend, the enchiladas, like the queso, were lukewarm – a big turn off, really.
Incidentally, my co-worker highly recommends the street tacos (I’m not really in to the whole taco craze that’s en fuego in Dallas right now, so I didn’t go for them). She swears by them, though, so if tacos are your thing, you should give them a try. We didn’t have time for desert, so I can’t comment on those.
The ambience here is a plus. It’s not quite as upscale or hoity-toity as Javier’s, but the restaurant does have a fun, hip feel to it. Happy hour would probably be a good time here. Our server was also very good, knowledgeable about the menu (you’d be surprised how many aren’t these days) and coming by frequently to check on drink levels. If you’re doing an office lunch, you can get in and out of here in a reasonable amount of time.
Rating: 3 stars. Great queso, good service and atmosphere, OK enchiladas, but I have to assess a sizeable penalty for the cold food. If you like Mexico City-style cuisine, Javier’s is better, and I still miss the long departed Nuevo Leon on Lower Greenville. But, given the historic dearth of any decent dining options downtown, Wild Salsa is a welcome Downtown Dallas addition.