Restaurant Salsa

Salsa Roja or Salsa de Mesa or Salsa Mexicana

Simple, fresh, and easy to make. A winning Mexican restaurant style salsa prepared with plum tomatoes, onion cilantro, and serrano peppers. Fresh tomatoes, not canned, star in this recipe.

Mexican Restaurant Salsa
In Mexico, it is known as salsa roja (red sauce) or salsa de mesa (table sauce). And just like in the U.S., it is served in every restaurant before your meal with tortilla chips.

Try With These Dishes

This salsa goes really well with quesadillas, carne asada, chorizo tacos, chicken fajitas, chicken taquitos, and nachos.

How to Make Restaurant Salsa

This is an easy Mexican salsa recipe that you will make again and again. Follow the simple steps to get great results every time.

Start with Fresh Ingredients. They Count

Homemade salsa starts with fresh ingredients. The fresher they are the better the results. Don’t use canned tomatoes. It gives the salsa a metallic taste.

You’ll notice that there aren’t any limes in the recipe. Whhhaaattt? Lime juice throws off the balance of flavors by overpowering the flavor of the tomatoes. But, if you prefer your salsa with lime try adding the juice from only one lime at a time until you get it perfect.


  • 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes
  • 1 half medium white onion
  • 2 serrano chiles or small jalapeños
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Restaurant Salsa Ingredients

All the ingredients you need, tomato, onion, cilantro, and serrano chile. Make sure they’re really fresh.

Chop the Ingredients Before Blending

You need to chop the ingredients before adding them to the blender. Precise chopping isn’t important. You just need smaller pieces so that it is easier to blend without adding water.

Chopped Ingredients Restaurant Salsa

Chop ingredients coarsely before blending.

Don’t Add Water

Put all of the ingredients in your blender. Adding the tomatoes first makes it much easier to blend.

Do not add water unless it won’t blend and then only add 2 tablespoons of water at a time. Most of the time you won’t have to add any. Too much water makes the salsa runny.

You want a full-bodied slightly chunky tomato salsa.

Salsa Ingredients in Blender

Add chopped vegetables to your blender. Don’t add water.

Pulse to Get It Started

The easiest way to get it started it to pulse the blender 5 or 6 times until the blades start to catch. Then blend for about 30 to 45 seconds until it is fully blended but still has a coarse texture. The salsa sticks to tortilla chips better when it has a little texture.

Blended Salsa

Coarsely blend the salsa. This is how it should look.

Fry in Hot Oil

Once the salsa is blended, you are going to fry it in 2 tablespoons of hot cooking oil. To fry it you just pour it into the hot oil. This step is important to develop the flavor of the salsa and helps bind it. Don’t skip it.

Cooking Salsa

Simmer Until Perfect

Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until it has taken on a deep red color and has more body. Looks good, doesn’t it? The tomatoes need to be very ripe for the sauce to take on the deep red color in the photos.

Simmering Salsa Roja

There you have it, a delicious cooked salsa recipe!

Cool and Serve

Allow your restaurant salsa to cool and then serve with tortilla chips, tacos, or anything else you enjoy with salsa.

It is so easy to make you should always have some in your refrigerator. Let us know what you think!

Make it Your Go To Homemade Salsa Recipe. Provecho!

Mexican Restaurant Salsa and Chips
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3.76 from 170 votes

Restaurant Salsa Recipe

Authentic Mexican restaurant salsa prepared with fresh plum tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, and serrano peppers just like they make in Mexico. It's simple, fresh-tasting, and easy to make.
Course Salsa
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword How to Make Restaurant Salsa, Restaurant Salsa, Restaurant Salsa Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 60kcal
Author Douglas Cullen


  • 1 pound plum Roma tomatoes
  • 1 half medium white onion
  • 2 serrano chiles or small jalapeños
  • 1 clove garlic optional
  • 8 sprigs cilantro fresh
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 tsp. salt


  • Remove the seeds and veins from the chiles (Leave them in if you want a hotter salsa)
  • Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, chiles, and cilantro
  • Add the chopped vegetables to your blender (Do not add extra water unless needed and then add a couple of tablespoons at a time)
  • Add ½ teaspoon salt
  • Blend the salsa until it has a coarse texture
  • Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan
  • Pour the blended salsa in the hot oil
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low
  • Simmer for 15 minutes
  • Adjust the salt


Only use 1 serrano chile if you prefer a milder salsa.
Add any or all of the following:
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin


Serving: 1/4 cup | Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 338mg | Sugar: 3g
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • 4-quart pot
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Serving bowl

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94 comments… add one
  • Ralph B Frahm II

    The simplicity is great, the flavor is bland. I live in Mexico and this would make a good base for a salsa, but I would be embarrassed to serve it to my neighbors. It needs some fire roasting on the tomatoes and the chiles. I will experiment a little and revise my comment later if possible.

  • Claudia J Davis

    How long will this keep in refrigerator and can you freeze it??

  • Lambert Helena

    In my experience, adding just a bit of sugar to tomato dishes cuts the acidity. Unless you re using canned tomatoes that already have sugar added, or San Marzano tomatoes which are naturally sweeter, I always add a bit of sugar to my tomato recipes, like spaghetti sauce. But if you re a person that prefers without, you definitely wouldn t have to add it. :) If you can find them Dei Fratelli Seasoned diced tomatoes make a great salsa. This recipe is very similar to what we make and it is marvelous!

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