Become a Better Cook in 4 Days!

There are so many delicious salsa recipes out there, but this Restaurant-Style Salsa is truly one of the best! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Restaurant-Style Salsa


This Restaurant-Style Salsa is based loosely on a recipe that I clipped out of the newspaper many years ago, and it was based on a salsa that is served at a very popular Boston-area Mexican restaurant chain called the Border Café.

Back when I was in grad school, the original Border Café in Harvard Square had lines out the door every night because customers couldn’t get enough of their delicious Tex-Mex fare. Every meal started with a bowl this fantastic Restaurant-Style Salsa, and a basket of warm tortilla chips. (The restaurant has now expanded to a chain with locations in three states along the Eastern Seaboard, some named Border Café and others José Tejas.)

Restaurant-Style Salsa

How to you make Restaurant-Style Salsa?

This copycat Mexican restaurant salsa recipe uses canned diced tomatoes, chili peppers (jalapeño or Serrano), garlic, onion, and lime juice, plus a bit of our Rocket Fuel for a little extra kick. (You can use your favorite hot sauce instead if you prefer.) All of the ingredients get combined together in a food processorand you are done! This Restaurant-Style Salsa couldn’t be any easier to make!


Restaurant-Style Salsa

What kind of tomatoes should you use to make homemade salsa?

You can, of course, use fresh tomatoes in your homemade salsa. (Making this recipe is a great idea when you have tons of garden tomatoes on hand!) But to achieve that restaurant-quality flavor, we actually recommend that you use a good-quality, canned tomato such as San Marzano or Roma.  By nature of the canning process, the canned tomatoes cook a bit and that actually helps give this restaurant-style salsa a deeper, richer flavor than if you used home grown, fresh-off-the vine tomatoes.

Restaurant-Style Salsa

How do I adjust the heat level in this Restaurant-Style Salsa?

As written and made with jalapeño peppers, this Restaurant-Style Salsa is a medium heat salsa. To add more heat, you can include some of the jalapeño seeds or add more than the two teaspoons called for in the recipe.

To make this restaurant-style salsa milder, use all Poblano peppers instead of jalapeño. Poblano peppers are milder and lend a gentle heat.


Restaurant-Style Salsa

What do I serve with this salsa?

In addition to crispy tortilla chips, this salsa is perfect with just about any of our other Mexican-inspired recipes including our Chicken Chimichangas, Chicken Enchiladas, Chile con Queso, Mexican Lasagna with White Sauce, and our Mexican Rice!

Don’t forget a Classic Margarita too!

You may like these other Tex-Mex Dips for your Cinco de Mayo party:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Restaurant-Style Salsa

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups
  • Category: dip
  • Method: food processor
  • Cuisine: Mexican


1 clove garlic minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño or Serrano or Poblano chili peppers, stemmed and seeded (see Note below if you substitute jarred jalapeño )

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 teaspoon minced cilantro

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (San Marzano or Roma)

Juice from one lime

1 teaspoon Rocket Fuel or your favorite hot sauce

¼ teaspoon salt

Tortilla chips, for serving


  1. Place garlic, chili peppers, red onion and cilantro in food processor and pulse a few times until mixture is finely chopped.
  2. Add the can of diced tomatoes, juice and all and give one quick pulse just to break up the large chunks of tomatoes. Pour into a bowl.
  3. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and stir. Adjust heat by adding more Rocket Fuel if desired.
  4. Let mixture sit in the refrigerator for one hour to meld flavors.
  5. Stir and serve with tortilla chips.


Note: If you use jarred pickled jalapeño instead of fresh, use less. The jarred peppers usually contain the seeds and pulp which is where a good deal of the heat is stored.

Keywords: Restaurant-Style Salsa

PIN THIS RECIPE NOW!There are so many delicious salsa recipes out there, but this Restaurant-Style Salsa is truly one of the best! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

There are so many delicious salsa recipes out there, but this Restaurant-Style Salsa is truly one of the best! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

Featured in this Restaurant-Style Salsa Post

  • Share
  • Pin
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Meet The Author: Martha

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe rating

    What type of comment do you have?

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Laura ~ Raise Your Garden wrote:

    I am going to throw in a few extra Roma tomatoes this summer for this recipe! Looks fantastic!!! And you are right, quality tomatoes make all the difference. Home-grown tomatoes versus sought-bought. No comparison to taste! And my son’s birthday is Cinco de Mayo so I feel all this pressure to host a fabulous party. Going to make this salsa! Sad I don’t have any home-grown tomatoes but I’ll do my best!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Laura – In this recipe, canned tomatoes will work just as well (maybe even better!) which is great because you’ll be able to enjoy the salsa all year round! Happy Birthday to your son!

  • A Family Feast ® is a registered trademark of A Family Feast, Inc. All content, including recipes, text, visual elements, and photographs are copyright © A Family Feast, Inc. 2012-2020, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.