Red or green?
Hot or mild?
These are questions familiar to many New Mexicans, but luckily you don’t have to choose just one.
Salsa Saint, which opened at 400 Romero NW in Albuquerque’s Old Town in late September, has shelves stocked with more than 120 New Mexican-made salsas that make use of red chile, green chile, chile from Hatch and almost everything in between.
Co-owner J.J. Mancini said the only rules guiding the salsa selection is that it has to be good and it has to be made in New Mexico and sold only or mostly in the state – though he has made some exceptions for brands that can also be found in El Paso.
Mancini, who has lived in Old Town since 2013 with his wife Sara, said he purchased the building housing Salsa Saint this year and was initially unsure of what to do with the small retail spot, until he realized that there wasn’t one place to get every New Mexico-made salsa.
“Red chile and green chile (are) so critical to New Mexican culture and history, so we wanted to open up a store that featured and heralded New Mexican chile in all of its various forms,” he said.
While Old Town is a popular draw for tourists, Mancini said his goal was to create a store that also appealed to locals and hopefully even offered some brands lifelong New Mexicans haven’t discovered.
Some of the salsas that can be found are an award-winning Hatch green chile salsa from Las Cruces-based The Bossy Gourmet, Granny Annie’s Chile which is made by a Rio Rancho company from a decades-old family recipe, and classic stand-bys like Pedro’s and Monroe’s.
Mancini said he is always on the hunt for more and rarer brands.
He said he hopes to eventually add some salsas made with heirloom chiles, also known as “landrace chiles,” from different regions of the state or from different pueblos.
He said his new store is part of a “revitalization” of Old Town following the beginning of the pandemic which shuttered some longstanding gift stores and galleries.
“There’s a lot of cool new shops that are opening that are targeting locals more so than tourists,” he said.
Old Town “is cool again for locals,” Mancini said.
Salsa Saint is open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information, visit salsasaint.com
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect year for when J.J. Mancini and his wife purchased the building that houses their business. The couple bought the building in 2021, not 2020. The story has been updated.