Salsa 7 opened last week in downtown Puyallup. It replaces Sam’s Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant, carved into a former gas station, that had operated downtown for more than a decade.
While Salsa 7 bills itself as modern Mexican, a first visit at the restaurant found modern decor, but the menu looked familiar - tacos, burritos, chile rellenos, mole, chimichangas and the ubiquitous basket of chips and two kinds of salsa to start the meal.
The food mirrored the straightforward Jalisco style dishes prolific in many of our local Mexican restaurants. (Fun South Sound restaurant fact: Many of the restaurants here have ties to a single Jalisco city - Cuautla.)
For those familiar with the restaurant’s former tenant, the menu and execution at Salsa 7 looked much like Sam’s at its prime. You won’t find the flavor-washed cuisine something the likes of Tacoma’s Masa - or even the modern plating of restaurants, such as Gig Harbor’s Moctezuma’s. But you will find solidly executed taqueria-style eats at Salsa 7.
I appreciated a poblano (pasilla) pepper at the base of a chile relleno (my obsession with poblano chile rellenos is well documented). I just wish the red sauce coating the battered poblano had been something more punchy than the straightforward sauce similar to that at Tacos Guaymas or Vuelve a la Vida (those two restaurants ought to be at the top of your list for casual taqueria eats, by the way).
Refried beans were garlicky, rice was fluffy, and meals came with a choice of whole, black or refried beans. Prices were fair at lunch in the $9 range. Service was friendly.
I did appreciate the decor that had been assembled with some thought. Clean lines, an earthy palette, comfortable booths and well-spaced tables created an appreciated atmosphere.
Go to Salsa 7 knowing that the modern Mexican moniker is not fully realized - or at least not yet. When I last spoke with owner Ramesh Kumar, who also owns South Hill’s Karma Indian Cuisine and Lounge, he indicated that Oaxacan cuisine (a style mostly missing from the South Sound dining landscape) would show up in the form of dinner specials.
Salsa 7 Modern Mexican506 N. Meridian, Puyallup