Is this the best Salsa in America? I think so.

April 19, 2012

Darn it.  I just received in the overnight mail the most outrageously delicious and nearly mind-bending Salsa that I've ever tasted.  And this upsets me greatly.  Why?  Because I don't live in Florida where it is available, I live in New Jersey. 

Why does this upset me?  I cannot buy Mary's Downtown Salsa at my local supermarket.  In fact, unless Mary wants to send me some again- (Hint Hint) I won't be enjoying any of her FABULOUS Salsa anytime soon.

But what makes this Salsa so much better than any on the market


Mary Daugherty makes each batch weekly with flavor in mind.  Certainly commerce plays into the recipe.  Mary needs your support to grow her business so maybe, maybe I can buy her Salsa in NJ.  (Someday!)

I was fortunate to sit outside for an hour today with a bag of Tortilla Chips from Whole Foods and a container of her HOT Salsa.  Hot it is.  NO MESSING AROUND with the heat.  I wanted to puree some of the salsa and mix it with Tequila- it was so good. 

Chock full of onions, red, ripe tomatoes, Jalapeno, freshly crushed garlic, savory and mysterious cilantro and love.  Love?  Yes, love.  You cannot make a food product without it.  The food knows! 

The customer knows and your taste buds will absolutely know!  So I asked Mary.  Why salsa

Tell me your story of your passion!  How did you decide on salsa?

Mary: Very simply - because I LOVE salsa (Tex-Mex in general). Since my introduction to really good salsa – it is my appetizer of choice! All started with a trip to California in the early 80’s…that was the first time I had tasted salsa that was not filled with preservatives.

I almost missed my return flight trying to find a container that I could pack the salsa in to bring home (plastic was not as available then and my friend’s mom was not giving up her Tupperware). Although the California salsa was a “cooked” variety, it did change the way I thought about salsa and made me a huge fan from that point forward.
I have been making my own salsa for over 20 years and the reason I started making it from scratch was because I could not find a fresh salsa that was the perfect consistency for my liking and equaled the great salsa I had experienced in CA. I don’t care for the really saucy kind – I like some tomato chunks in there!

I tried several different recipes until developing what I felt was the perfect blend. I love to get all the flavor of the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro and then feel the heat at the finish!

My original recipe is what I now label as “medium”. It became my “signature” food item for all social gatherings. Throughout the years I had a following of people that also loved my salsa, so I did sell it to friends and an extended group of people for a couple years.

Then along came a child and a new lifestyle interrupted my dream of a salsa empire. Among my fans is the owner of a local produce/gourmet market and at that time she told me that if I ever decided to pursue retail she would help.  And when I did decide to take the leap – she and her husband both offered their expertise and guidance. Even though I did not move forward with a retail plan initially, I knew that one day I wanted to share my salsa with as many people as possible.
What gives me goose bumps about being in the food business is the pleasure in knowing that a food item that I created makes other people happy. I am a Southern gal and in our family happiness always equaled food consumption.

From my granny’s table I heard “Here, have some of these chicken and dumplings, they will make you feel better”.  When sampling in my retail locations, I love to meet people and hear that they really enjoy the salsa. It is especially gratifying when they then go on to tell me recipes that they create with it.

I also get a charge out of the people that  say “Oh, I don’t like salsa” and then they try the black bean & corn or the mango tango salsa and suddenly I hear, “Oh, that’s good!” – alas, another salsa addict is born. 

“Satisfying All Loco Salsa Addicts” is my tag line (mission). That was a collaborative effort from a girl’s weekend (in the 90’s) as I continued to dream of opening my salsa business. The statement fits though. Through the years, there is one statement I hear over and over -“That stuff is addicting”. I know the reason people like it because it is fresh. That is what hooked me in the 80’s. I do not add any preservatives to my recipe – it is just like you made it yourself – but much easier to enjoy – just open the container.
Winning the Best Salsa in Brevard - People’s Choice Award in 2009 is what propelled me into finally opening the business. The win provided the confirmation that I needed, more than just my friends and family think that my salsa is really tasty, and so Mary’s Downtown Salsa was born.

It started with the original and now we sell Mild, Medium, Hot, Black Bean & Corn and seasonally we offer the Mango Tango Tropical Salsa. This fall I introduced a Black Bean & Corn Queso Dip (which you heat), it is also sold seasonally.

My salsa won the 1st Place People Choice Award in 2010 and 2011 and the 1st Place Judge’s Choice in 2011. Our local social mag – Space Coast Living rated my salsa #1 in April 2010.

I currently sell my product in seven retail locations within my community.


I absolutely adore Mary's Hot Salsa.  But what I feel most strongly about is her Mango Tango Salsa.  Rife with chunks of sweet mango, it is a riot of memorable flavors.  I wanted to take this salsa a bit further.  So I pureed about a cup and added it, along with several shots of Milagro Tequila and a couple tablespoons of Agave Syrup to a shaker finished it with a hunk of grilled lime and a splash of freshly drawn seltzer... A cocktail was born.  Just like that.

So, I named it for Mary. 


Mary's Magical Mango Salsa Fizz (served two THIRSTY friends)


4 shots Milagro Silver Tequila

1 cup Mary's Mango Tango Salsa, pureed to fine in a food processor

4 tablespoons of Agave Syrup

Grilled Lime juice (slice limes into thick rounds and quickly grill over charcoal, then juice yielding about 1/2 cup)

Freshly drawn Seltzer

Fresh mint


To a cocktail shaker, fill 1/4 with ice

Add Milagro Tequila

Add Grilled Lime Juice (about 1/2 cup)

Add Agave Syrup

Add Mango Tango Salsa

Shake and strain into short rocks glasses with fresh ice and a hunk of grilled lime, some fresh mint and top with a splash of Seltzer

Show your good manners by offering your friend one first then enjoy the next one yourself


Mary Daugherty
Mary’s Downtown Salsa