At Wild Salsa, It Takes Tequila to Tango

Aggressive art isn't enough to debauch downtown's tame new Mexican restaurant. But the tequila selection might be.

The lamb shank is safe, cooked till it's fall-from-the-bone tender, and served alongside a poblano and roasted corn tamale the size of a baby's thigh. It's a $30 plate, though, steep for casual Mexican dining, and a price point that had me expecting something a little more refined.

I may not be the only one hoping for more. The dining room was quiet when I visited on a late weekday evening, and the bar was empty, save for the trio of women in starched white shirts, blowing off steam after a shift at the Chop House across the street. By 9 that evening, the place was empty.

A Friday night was, however, bustling. There was no wait but the place was full, with diners spilling out onto a pleasant patio outfitted with picnic tables, each separated by a large container garden of herbs. The mint out there grows like the weed that it is, and some of it makes its way into a mojito back at the bar.

Wild Salsa's open dining room sets the stage for some killer tacos.
Sara Kerens
Wild Salsa's open dining room sets the stage for some killer tacos.

Location Info

Map

Wild Salsa

1800 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75201

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Downtown & Deep Ellum

Details

Wild Salsa Tacos $2.50-$3.50 Guacamole $8-$12 Adobo Potatoes $4 Elotes Callejeros $3 Roasted Chicken $16 BBQ Shrimp $18 Lamb Shank $30

It's here that I realized Wild Salsa's greatest utility. Many of the tables are generously sized and perfect for casual dining with larger groups. I can imagine that back patio calling to me, and same goes for that semi-outdoor dining space that flanks the front and side of the restaurant.

With an endless procession of chips and salsa, cheap tequila flights and an outstanding taco menu, Wild Salsa is a decent option for catching up with a group of friends. Drink specials run every day from 3 to 9 p.m., and while the beer list sticks to the usual suspects, the tequila selection makes up for it with more than 70 añejos, blancos and resposados, and even a couple of mezcals.

The waitstaff is exemplary. My server one night was polite, quick and knowledgeable of the menu, fielding a barrage of questions with humble but informed responses. You'd expect these service qualities at finer dining establishments, but they're a nice surprise here, where the food skews away from Texas and leans more toward Mexico, elevating the Chili's standard, but not too far. After all, the menus at Wild Salsa are still laminated — protection from those errant salsa drips from uncontrolled tortilla chips.

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6 comments
Anon
Anon

Is it possible that the BBQ shrimp were not supposed to be barbequed, but instead a spin on New Orleans style BBQ shrimp?

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw

i don't understand the Chili's references, is that just you being crass? i grew up in Richardson and Dallas, and now live in Dallas for 8 years and i've been to Chili's once. after a soccer game in the 7th grade.

Tex-Mex has been defined in this region by places like El Fenix and other single location places in various burbs and neighborhoods.

while there's some real bad Tex-Mex (particularly outside of Texas), Ojeda's, Matt's, Tejano's, Mia's and a few others are pretty spot-on.

So dont base a place on whether it's not Tex-Mex, please. Also in Mexico...they dont eat most of this stuff Wild Salsa is putting out there. So it's not even Mex-Mex.

Nonetheless, I'm excited to try this place out given it's location and seemingly fresh, original presentation and eats.

david eddie
david eddie

on my visit the tacos were sparse and sloppy, nothing like the photo. the carnitas tamale however was outstanding. larger than a traditional tamale, wrapped in perhaps a banana leaf, flavorful masa void of lard residue some tamales get. the filling was moist and succulent, and the accompanying slaw brought a welcome bright note. the elotes was also really good on my visit. i'll be going back for sure.

AllTeam
AllTeam

I've had some good TRUE Mexican before and its great. I'm not a fan of Tex-Mex. To refer to Ojeda's as spot on... that was one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to. It tasted like they had reheated the food in a microwave.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Unfortunately for pictures, the restaurant knows they are being evaluated. It's hard to stay anonymous with a massive SLR in hand. The tacos pictured are certainly styled, but not too far off from what I experienced over three visits.

david eddie
david eddie

i didn't order the tacos, the person i was dining with did...after the waiter told her that he wouldn't recommend them. based on what she received i would have agreed. i'll give them a try eventually...you know...purely for testing purposes.

 
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