TERRY’S PICKY PALATE / The whole enchilada at Salsa Loca at Cowboy Bill’s

BY TERRY SCHMIDA
I’ve long been a fan of Salsa Loca, that die-hard Mexican eatery known for its huge portions of delicious and authentic south-of-the-border cuisine.
I’m also a huge devotee of the eatery’s Nancy Mayhew, whose Southern charm and contagious sense of humor injects a sense of levity into each and every visit.
During my recent visit to Salsa Loca, located at the Angela Street entrance to Cowboy Bill’s Entertainment Complex, Mayhew pulled out all the stops to make sure I left well-satisfied with my meal – and loaded me down with plenty of treats to take home.
She started the ball rolling with the Chori Queso dip and tortilla chips. I’ve always loved melted Queso (a soft white cheese popular in Spain and much of Latin America, for the uninitiated,) but the addition of the fried Chorizo sausage morsels to the dip kicked the whole experience up a notch. It was mouth-wateringly good; the perfect appetizer.
“It really is addictive,” Mayhew said. “Like crack. Some of our regulars even use that word when they order it.”
Next came a pair of entrees so big that I advised Mayhew to plan ahead with the to-go boxes I knew I’d be needing.
The size of the portions was in no way designed to disguise imperfect flavors, however.
The Shrimp Fajitas, served sizzling in a super hot skillet (don’t touch the plates!) were a succulent and juicy blend of plump and tasty shrimp, peppers and onions, and were accompanied by healthy portions of Mexican rice, refried beans, tortillas, ensaladito, and guacamole and sour cream.
I decided to cross the beams by spreading a little Chori Queso on my tortillas before loading them up with the fajitas and fixings. The result was truly delightful.
My other entree, the Beef Alambre, was equally tempting. This dish is almost like a Mexican Philly cheese steak, pairing sliced steak mixed with queso, and the traditional aforementioned sides of
Mexican rice, refried beans, tortillas, ensaladito, and guacamole and sour cream.
I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but Mayhew had me covered anyway, with a huge glass of her own special Fresh Brewed North Carolina Sweet Tea, a tasty nod to her own roots. They also serve a non-alcoholic sangria.
For those who do imbibe, no visit to Salsa Loca is complete without sampling one of Mayhew’s “secret recipe” Margaritas, which I overheard patrons at an adjacent table praising. Besides a full liquor, beer and wine bar, Salsa Loca also carries some hard-to-find beverages, such as Dos Equis Amber, and 3 Daughters Key Lime Apple Cider.
As I was turning to waddle to the door, Mayhew stopped me in my tracks.
“You’re not leaving here without dessert,” she said, handing me a bag containing my leftovers, and a sweet creamy, and delicious homemade Flan (complete with whipped cream.)
The bag also contained an enticing Ceviche, made from diced shrimp, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and sliced avocado.
Nearly everything at Salsa Loca is made from scratch (even their taco shells and tortilla chips!) and cooked to order. The eatery also offers large vegetarian and Gringo (think great cheeseburgers) menus. On Taco Tuesdays, beef or chicken, crunchy or soft tacos are just $2. Local always receive a 10 percent discount on food, and 20 percent on drinks. Pets are welcome and, as the sign above the water bowl says, “Dogs drink free every day.”
Salsa Loca has it all! Ride on in and taste for yourself!
Salsa Loca at Cowboy Bill’s is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. All credit cards are accepted. Free delivery is available throughout Key West.
For more information, call 305-292-1865, or visit Salsa Loca on Facebook.