Lately Durham has been a revolving door for restaurants coming and going. Salsa is the new Mexican restaurant that has recently taken over the space formally known as Mama Mac’s. The question on everyone’s mind is, does this place have the ingredients to stay?
Salsa is a build-your-own Mexican restaurant that had its grand (and unexpected) opening on Friday November 8th. The opening consisted of drunk college kids dancing with masks, taken off of Salsa’s walls. Many pictures were also taken with Polly, a metal Parrot that was rescued from a local scrap yard. I got my first bite of ‘Salsa’ that night when a friend offered me a nibble of her taco, since then I went in for a burrito of my own (which didn’t disappoint).
Salsa bares the burden of being compared to Chipotle. However the owners, Justin and Heidy Herbert, likes the comparison, “We complement each other, because we are similar (both build-your-own Mexican food restaurant) but at the same time we are very different.” My personal feelings would be that Chipotle tastes a little more mainstream while Salsa is more authentic.
Salsa has a very simple menu that allows you to make your dream meal. First you chose your dish (burrito, taco, bowl, quesadilla, fajita or salad) then you choose what type of filling (chicken, beef, pork, bean, veggie, or steak) and last but not least you choose sauce or any combination of sauces. During an interview I asked Heidy what her favorite meal is and she told me she has a weak spot for quesadilla’s and that her corn salsa is to die for.
Justin and Heidy got the idea to open their own Mexican restaurant after Heidy’s fish taco recipe was successful at her husband’s (Justin) restaurant ‘Justin’s Seafood Hut’ in Rye, New Hampshire. They heard of the open space in Durham through their vender (who is also the vender of D-Hop). She also bonded with Durham House of Pizza Owner Steve Petrovitsis because they both started their business while raising four kids (Steve four boys, and Justin/Heidy four girls). Who knows? Maybe that’s the secret to running a good late night food restaurant in Durham.
Heidy has high expectations; she is always open to suggestions and is very flexible which will only lead to Salsa’s success. The restaurant is going to start weekly specials like ‘Burrito Mondays’, and ‘Taco Tuesdays’, and are also adding on a late night “walk of shame menu” that I can’t wait to see! Salsa will also host contest on twitter (like first person to arrive at the restaurant with ______ will win a free dinner) so if you’re a poor college student looking for a stomach full of delicious Mexican food don’t forget to follow Salsa on twitter @Salsa_Durham . Be patient with Salsa, with all the regulations and new permits needed to establish a happening hunger stopper, Heidy is this close to obtaining Cat’s Cache.