320 Maple Ave. Smithtown, NY 631-360-8080
Cafe serving burritos, fajitas and other Mexican food.Hours: Sun-Thurs: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat: noon-10 p.m.; Sun: noon-9 p.m. Reservations: Not Accepted Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Yes
At Salsa Salsa in Smithtown, walls are painted acid shades of chartreuse, orange and purple, and gray leatherette chairs are stenciled with lizards. Plastic cacti "grow" in a wooden planter outside the front door. All this makes for a funky ambience and the perfect showcase for some of Long Island's liveliest Cal-Tex-Mex fare.
Those familiar with the original Salsa Salsa in Port Jefferson, basically a burrito bar, will appreciate the table service and comfortable seating at the new place. Service still is a bit tentative, so you'll probably have more time than you need to dip nacho chips in the piquant and smoky house chipotle sauce.
It's difficult to imagine better fried squid than the corn-crusted calamari served here, spicy and crunchy-tender. Another deep-fried indulgence is the "devil's breath," one of those battered and fried whole onions that has been cut to resemble a blooming flower. Greaseless and crisp, this onion outshines similarly prepared bulbs elsewhere.
You'll relish the hearty and delicious black bean soup, served with sour cream and chopped red onions. One evening, the soup of the day was sweet corn and cilantro; it was irresistible. So, too, was the deeply flavorsome chipotle chicken and white bean chili.
Fish tacos, made with tuna the day I tried them, were fresh and savory. A trio of tacos filled with pork, chicken and steak was also very good (the pork filling was a personal favorite).
Burritos and wraps come enveloped in aluminum foil, fine for takeout, but awkward, I think, for dining-room eating. I liked the salad wrap with juicy grilled chicken, field greens and tomatoes in a vibrant chile vinaigrette. A mesquite-grilled chicken burrito was simple, fresh and fine. Truly exceptional was a grilled mahi mahi fajita burrito, a marvelous meld of colors, textures and flavors. Hearty eaters may want to try the "machacha," a burrito, filled with steak, scrambled eggs, brown rice and salsa fresca.
Main course salads start with a base of fresh field greens and very red tomatoes. The grilled shrimp salad contained a lot of spice-coated crustaceans, along with salsa fresca and guacamole in a spicy jalapeno vinaigrette. The similar ensalada de pollo was topped with cubes of warm grilled chicken breast, tossed with a spunky cilantro-lime dressing.
The lone finale when I went was a ball of chocolate chip ice cream coated with a corn-flake batter, deep-fried and served in a pool of hot fudge. Good stuff. Owner Chris Jehle said coffee service and an expanded dessert roster are imminent.
The "salsa" in the restaurant's name refers to pico de gallo, made of spiced, chopped tomatoes. An ingredient in some dishes, it costs an extra 75 cents as a condiment. Spring for it.
At Salsa Salsa, a little money buys great satisfaction.