A common lament of extranjeros living in Buenos Aires is the lack of kick in the local palate. At most restaurants you’ll see salt on every table but pepper is always an afterthought. Pica!!! our Porteño friends will squeal when you ask why they don’t put freshly ground pepper on things like scrambled eggs, vegetables and sandwiches.
Many markets and grocery stores – most regularly in Barrio Chino and similar locales – sell at the very least some jalapeños to help satisfy our cravings. (You can often find rocoto and other amazeballs-hot peppers too, but you might have to head out of the way to get them.) Strangely enough, at Disco, they always seem to come in huge packs of 15. (I have a serious spice addiction, but what on Earth am I supposed to do with 15 jalapeños before they start to wrinkle?) But let’s be honest, there’s nothing like having access to a delicious, fiery hot sauce that we can douse on everything from empanadas to mashed potatoes (don’t judge).
Luckily, expats here are an entrepreneurial bunch. Here are 3 places for you to burn your taste buds, satisfaction guaranteed:
1. Ya Ya Bean – La Boca Roja
The Ya Ya’s are from the DC area (props) and followed the typical “study abroad – love it – graduate – move back” pattern and have managed to do some pretty cool stuff along the way. They spent time on an organic farm in Patagonia and learned how to make hot sauce from scratch, now making and bottling it out of their apartment in BA. You can buy La Boca Roja hot sauce at the San Telmo fair every Sunday, or arrange delivery with them via their website / Facebook. The duo also writes and performs their own songs and makes randomly hilarious videos. How does their hot sauce measure up? It’s got lots of flavor and smoky undertones and manages to have a serious kick without compromising taste. My empanadas de humita have never been the same. A 180ml bottle will set you back just AR$30 and a bigger 500ml – AR$50.
2. El Tejano Salsa
Larry is a badass Tex-Mex dude who spends lots of time perfecting the best salsa out there. He’s even the personal salsa provider to the folks at the Alamo Bar. The salsa is made fresh – without any weird ingredients – and is available in four variations: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 & newly-added Level 4. (all referring to spiciness, of course). This is nice for people / weaklings who enjoy the flavor but can’t keep up with the big kids in the FIRE REALM. Give me Level 4+++ por favor. It’s super versatile and makes anything from the BA beige diet (milanesas, mashed potatoes, french fries, empanadas) taste even better. You can pick it up in three sizes: 6oz, 12oz, or 20oz. Larry has also unveiled hot sauce and BBQ sauce – a whole Tejano product line! More information can be found on El Tejano’s website. Check him out on Twitter, too.
3. Magdalena’s Party
Ok so you can’t technically purchase this product – YET – but you’d be foolish not to try some next time you’re at the bar/restaurant in Palermo Soho. Mag’s just recently started serving lunch and dinner (as well as their famed Weekend Brunch) and features a Cali-Mex menu with lots of fresh dishes and great food. If you’re like me and have no shame, you won’t feel bad in asking them to bring over a whole bottle of their hot sauce, made in-house and with all natural ingredients. You also won’t feel weird as you dump it all over the burrito you’re eating (in front of other people) and shovel it into your mouth and say/mumble “THIS IS GO GOOD OMG” as it all kind of gets all over your chin. Attractive, really. I found myself loving the spicy-sweet flavor and the thick texture of the sauce. When I was having a serious craving I actually ate it plain because I didn’t have any crackers left in my apartment. Insane, or dedicated? How about insanely dedicated? Check out the Magdalena’s Party website, Facebook & Twitter !