What: The salsa (with chips, of course)
Where: Rincon Norteño, 83011 Indio Blvd., Indio
How much: Free with your meal
Contact: 760-347-4754; www.rinconnorteno.com
Why: Because it’s hot—and we ain’t talking about the spice.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, well past my usual lunch time. Due to various meetings in Indio, I have not yet had a chance to eat, and I am freaking hungry.
I wander in to Rincon Norteño, and for some reason, the waitress who seats me thinks I am ordering to-go. When she comes to take my order, and I tell her that I am actually dining at the restaurant, she says “Ohhhh!” and immediately heads to … a soup warmer?
Yes. A soup warmer.
She ladles some of the contents into a bowl; grabs a bowl of chips off a nearby shelf (the chips are placed in bowls in advance; why, I have no idea); and delivers them to me.
I sniff the warm, tan-colored liquid in the small yellow bowl. It does not look all that appetizing, but I am ravenous, so I grab one of the thickish tortilla chips and dive in.
Most salsas that are served around these parts, of course, are served chilled (or perhaps room-temperature), and feature tomatoes as one of the main ingredients. In this deliciously warm concoction, at least two different types of peppers (the server tells me) are instead the main attraction, with a lot of white onions backing them up. (As for the ingredients beyond the onions and the chiles? I have no idea. It’s a delicious mystery.)
While the salsa is heat-hot, it’s not all that spicy-hot—these are mellow peppers, with just a little bit of kick. The resulting salsa/sauce/gravy/soup is earthy, comforting and just plain yummy.
The combination plate I had was, frankly, pretty average. No matter; that warm salsa will keep me coming back to Rincon Norteño. It’s that good.