Ask for hot sauce at any restaurant on the East Coast, and you’ll probably have a bottle of Tabasco plopped down on your table. That’s despite the fact there are many other Louisiana-style hot sauces–an aged cayenne and vinegar brew–and most of them, like Bruce Food’s version, are much more flavorful than the acidic, one-note Tabasco. Likewise, sit down at almost any restaurant in Los Angeles, and you’ll be provided with a bottle of Tapatio, the simple, red chile, Mexican-style concoction. Tapatio is actually a lot more flavorful than Tabasco, but how does it stack up against a different, harder-to-find Mexican-style sauce?
It turns out that Tapatio, which is actually made in Southern California, gets its ass kicked by Valentina, a delicious, brick-red sauce from Guadalajara. While Tapatio says “zip!” and then disappears, Valentina hangs around for a while, its vinegar mellowed out by earthy, garlicky flavors.
Both are available at well-stocked bodegas.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2009