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Aptly Named Salsa and Beer

The lighting is a little red, but the food is more than a little good.

For a friend’s birthday, we headed out to Salsa and Beer in Lake Balboa to eat some birthday Mexican food. Having never really been to Lake Balboa and having mostly heard sketchy things about that part of town, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Salsa and Beer. Yet, some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had has come from sketchy places, so my expectations were somewhat mixed.

As soon as I walked in, though, I had a feeling this was going to be a great meal. Looking around, I saw happy faces and giant platters of Mexican food. On top of that, my sense of smell was sending me strong messages. Once the rest of our group arrived, I finally got a chance to look at the menu and was floored. First I was floored by the sheer size of the menu. Figuring out what to eat wasn’t going to easy. Once I started looking around, I realized the prices weren’t going to make things any easier, because everything was damn cheap.

Eventually I made my way to the enchilada section and found one that looked delicious. It was new to the menu and called the Creamy Chicken Enchilada. The menu said it was simply filled with cheese and chicken, then topped off with red sauce and home made cream. It was served as a platter and also came with beans and rice. When I ordered I made sure the waitress knew I didn’t want pico de gallo, then I ordered a nice, cold Dos Equis to fulfill the beer part of my order.

After ordering, I looked to fulfill the salsa part of the meal. Our chips had already been served and came with and incredibly delicious spicy bean dip. The pinto beans had been ground up nicely and they had just enough kick to let you know someone had put spice in the dip. While this was surely enough to dip chips in, they also had a beautiful salsa bar. Not content with filling the bar with simple salsas like a verde, fire roasted, mild and hot, Salsa and Beer raised the bar by adding multiple types of hot salsa, like the creamy green jalapeno and hot creamy red. There was even a nice mild avocado salsa that was a nice middle ground of regular salsa and guacamole. Of these, the hot creamy red was my favorite. It had a strong, bold flavor and a nice hot kick that came in after you were able to take in the flavor.

So with the salsa and beer part taken care of, I was looking forward to my main course and when it came out it looked like a dream. The enchiladas were oozing with cheese and there wasn’t a vegetable in sight. I sliced off a bit and tried to gather as much oozing cheese as I could into my bite. I bit in and discovered creamy chicken heaven. The enchilada was so stuffed with that delicious cheese that it was almost hard to find chicken, but I did find that chicken and it all combined into one delicious bite. It was so good that I immediately set to devouring the whole thing. About midway through my enchiladas, I realized there was only one thing I could do to improve my meal: add some of that creamy hot red salsa. As soon as I did, I realized I was eating the best enchilada of my life. No joke, this thing was amazing.

After finishing, I realized my experience with Salsa and Beer reminded me of a little Jewish song called Dayeinu, which means “it would have been enough.” Although my version doesn’t have the fun slavery and liberation undertones, it does have the same general feeling of “it would have been enough.” Had the menu simple been massive, it would have been enough. Had the food just been cheap, it would have been enough. Had the spicy been dip only been delicious, it would have been enough. Had the salsa bar had a nice variety of salsas, it would have been enough. Had my enchilada been devoid of vegetables, it would have been enough. Yet, each of those wasn’t enough for Salsa and Beer, because in the end I had one of the best Mexican dinners of my life.