Needless to say, I was intrigued when I heard about Salsa Puerto Rican and Latin Cuisine, on Palmer just down the street from Cummins Station. Last week they had a soft opening, and sent out invites for folks in the media who wanted a free dinner so they could work out some of the kinks.
Our party of four was quite pleasantly surprised, both by the food and the ambience. Frankly, at first blush the name Salsa sounded a tad generic, so I was fearing a suburban chain vibe. But the restaurant is tastefully decorated: Owners Marcos Cruz and Juan Reyes (who heads the kitchen) have created a fashionably minimal space, with what looks like reclaimed barn wood on the lower walls, white paint on the upper walls, an attractive bar and a variety of intriguing light fixtures.
We started with a sampling of appetizers. Our faves were the black bean hummus and the beef empanadas. (The crab empanadas were OK, but we all agreed the beef were better.) The sorullos de maiz (corn fritters) were also popular at our table.
A co-worker and I ordered a couple of sandwiches to go on Tuesday, and we were quite pleased. The criollo steak sandwich was quite good, and a great deal at $8 (including a side), but we were blown away by the tripleta ($12), which featured wonderfully seasoned chunks of pork, ham and beef. I envision Salsa becoming a regular lunch destination, and the occasional dinner choice too. Lunch selections are in the $8-$12 range, dinner entrées in the $12-$26 range (with most between $15 and $18). You can order from the dinner menu at lunch.