Honorable Mention: Amy's
This was a bit on the sweet side for us, but the tomatoes tasted bright and un-ketchup-like. Filled with cilantro flecks, it left a bit of an herby aftertaste. Many of the ingredients listed were organic, not that this necessarily factors into the delicious-ness quality, but it's worth noting.
Honorable Mention: Tostitos
"Not too sweet or overpowering," agreed tasters. "The tomatoes tasted like tomatoes." Always a plus! This was very inoffensive; would totally do the trick for chip-dunking with a cold beer. It could be a little spicier though. Good for people who want to be part of the "Medium" club, but are really "Mild" at heart.
Honorable Mention: Pace
"I could eat more of this," said one taster. Pretty high praise when you're talking 17 salsas over two days. It tasted fresher than most of the other generic-looking red ones, with chewable chunks of pepper and tomato, and a good dunking consistency.
This is chef Rick Bayless's line of salsas, and the only one we had to special order (you can find it at select stores, they just weren't near SEHQ). It tasted the most like real salsa, where you could actually picture a real person crushing the garlic and jalapeños with a mortar and pestle. It has a very prominent smoky, charred flavor. Some tasters found it too "funky," but the majority liked the roasted depth. It's slightly sweet but balanced with acidic tang. It also didn't have the tomato paste texture that many others did.
Winner: Green Mountain Gringo
Before we started, many SE'rs admitted this was their go-to brand. And even after the blind tasting, the same crew of GMG fanboys and girls ended up ranking this the highest. "Fairly chunky with a nice heat," agreed tasters. It's made with ripe tomatoes, not tomato juice or puree (common in other salsas) and cider vinegar, which you don't see in salsas too often. We were fans of the tangy-ness. The texture was ideal for tortilla chip scooping; not runny at all. The salsa stays where it should—on the chip!