Free Sunday salsa party

Houston flavor by the bottle: The Original Ninfa's brings its salsa to the grocery store

Houston flavor by the bottle: The Original Ninfa's brings its salsa to the grocery store

alex padilla dan jardine ninfa's salsa
Ninfa's salsa creators Dan Jardine and Alex Padilla Photo by Geralyn Graham
ninfa's salsa
Are you ready for Ninfa's in a jar? Photo by Dan Jardine
alex padilla dan jardine ninfa's salsa
ninfa's salsa

Nothing can replicate the unique near perfection of the Original Ninfa's on Navigation. Not the embarrassing franchise chain that proliferates around town with the same name, and not even the later concepts by the Laurenzo family. So I didn't know what to think when I heard that Original Ninfa's was releasing a line of salsas for sale in Central Market and select H-E-B stores.

But several store-bought flour tortillas and about a quarter of a bottle later, I can breathe a sigh of relief. This salsa is good. It's really good.

Ninfa's executive chef Alex Padilla worked with salsa specialist Dan Jardine to recreate the fresh Ninfa's salsa flavor in a retail package. The duo came up with four versions: mild and hot house red roasted salsas, green hatch chile salsa, and chipotle salsa, all of which are all natural, gluten free and preservative free.

I got my hands on a bottle of the chipotle version, and it's truly addictive. It's laced with a smoky, dry heat — I won't say it hits four-alarm status, but it does pack a kick — and while it's not exactly chunky, there's a substantial quality to it. From the color to the smell, the earthy spiciness of chipotle is front and center.

The house salsas are made to imitate the version served with chips on every table in the restaurant, and Padilla says he's planning to integrate his new green hatch and chipotle recipes into the Ninfa's repertoire. But despite never having been served at the restaurant, the chipotle salsa still has an undeniable Ninfa's flavor.

The Ninfa's salsa won't replace a trip to the East End, but it might replace the no-name salsa currently in your fridge. The bottles are $4.49-$4.98 at Central Market and H-E-B, but fans can try a bottle for free by dining at Ninfa's on Sunday.

What do you think of the Ninfa's salsa plans?