The window awning at Taco Los Altos in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood boasts a blunt claim of “The Best Mexican Food.” Since there are no contextual clues (like “in the universe” or “on this block” or “cooked by stamp collectors”) I can’t confirm or deny the awning’s truthfulness. But I can tell you that the food there is absolutely delicious. You have to try the grilled veggie tacos, with their scrumptiously flavorful mix of caramelized onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and more. You also have to try any dish that comes with their signature avocado salsa—part salsa verde and part guacamole, with plenty of lime and cilantro.
Last time I was at Taco Los Altos, a friend who has worked for years in the food industry as both a cook and food rep pointed out how easy it would be to make our own TLA-style avocado salsa. She rattled off the list of ingredients like the pro that she is, followed by some simple instructions for preparation. This is not the restaurant’s recipe, but it is a good enough approximation to keep me happy in between visits. It’s incredibly easy to make—plus, it’s a great way to get your cilantro fix without the tediousness of leaf-picking. Always a bonus for the Lazy.
Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa
1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed
olive or vegetable oil spray
½ large, ripe avocado
½ cup (tightly packed) cilantro, leaves and stems
¼ cup chopped onion
1 – 3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slice tomatillos in half along their equators. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and spray or drizzle with olive or vegetable oil. Bake in preheated oven until soft—15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your tomatillos.
In a blender or food processor, purée tomatillos, avocado, cilantro, onion, peppers, lime juice, and salt. (Start with a single jalapeno pepper and add more to taste if needed.) Refrigerate until cool—if you can wait!
Makes 2 cups.