Uncovering the Mystery of Mexican Restaurant Creamy Avocado Salsa

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
creamy avocado salsa

For more than 25 years we’ve been eating  well at Mexican restaurants all over Nashville, starting with the pioneering La Hacienda Taqueria which anchors the international food corridor of Nolensville Road. In New Nashville, trendy taco places like Mas Tacos Por Favor and Taco Mamacita are adding to the menu. Almost always on the table you’ll find the two styles of squeeze-bottle salsa: the green tomatillo and the spicier red, flecked with dried chilies. Then, at some Nolensville Pike spots, a third salsa might appear — bright green, creamy, spicy, and absolutely addictive. We deconstruct a lot of dishes, but this one had us stumped.

The brilliantly simple mystery was solved by a very nice server at El Tapatio #2 on Nolensville Pike. As she listed the four miracle ingredients, it was clear we were not the first to ask. We went directly home and opened a can of tomatillos, peeled an avocado and a garlic clove, rough-chopped a few hot peppers, and whizzed it up in the blender. Unbelievable. Perfection. Make it one time and we guaranteed you’ll be serving it with everything — drizzled over burgers, grilled meats and fish, summer vegetables, and especially a platter of sliced summer tomatoes.

The first miracle is that the avocado’s rich creaminess convinces you without a doubt that you’re eating sour cream. No sour cream in this salsa; no dairy whatsoever. The second miracle is how the acidic tomatillos prevent the avocado from turning dark brown. Even full of avocado, this beautiful salsa stays a gorgeous fresh green.

On the peppers, we lean toward spicy because there’s something really unexpected about combining cool and creamy with heat. A batch or two will help you adjust the heat to your liking. And for a heftier dipping sauce, add a second avocado.

The temptation to clutter a recipe with “more” is high here. (“A handful of fresh cilantro whizzed in would be really nice, maybe a pinch of cumin?”) But, resist. Its four-ingredient purity is part of the miracle. We served the salsa with chili and nachos to a Brazilian friend who declared she would like to eat the whole bowl of salsa like a soup. That’s actually not a bad idea …

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