Designed to Attract Social Media Attention, Casita’s Salsa, Guac & Chip Tower Has Become a Real-life Sensation

We share the secret ingredients.

When Adam Titze was crafting the menu at Casita in Sherman Oaks, he knew he needed a few visual dishes. “Look, I don’t really like it, but the truth is, the phone eats first,” the chef says regarding the importance of social media in a restaurant’s success today. Recalling a charcuterie tower he’d created for another eatery, he thought of a chip-and-dip tower. “We made it and looked at it. And when we saw it, we thought: This is what everyone wants to see on Instagram. Chips and salsa at Mexican restaurant? You can’t go wrong. Everyone will try that.” Turns out Adam was right. The eatery’s chip, salsa and guacamole tower is one of the most popular menu items. Aside from the eye-catching presentation, diners enjoy sampling the variety of salsas, which range from sweet to slightly bitter. Casita goes through 68 pounds of Roma tomatoes and 75 bunches of fresh cilantro every day to create the five salsas. Here in his own words, the chef expounds on the recipes.

Jicama Avocado Pico de Gallo: This salsa is basically tomatoes, white onions, cilantro and jalapeño. Instead of making it smooth, we dice up jicama and a firm avocado and then fold those into the pico at the end. This salsa has a little bit more crunch, which is nice and distinguishes it from a traditional pico de gallo.

Casita Salsa: We roast the tomatoes in the oven so they get good caramelization. Roasting evaporates some of the water and makes the tomato a bit sweeter. Then we add garlic, red wine vinegar, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt and cumin. The vinegar adds some moisture and a little bit of balance, bringing some acidity to the dish. 

Salsa Rojas: I got this recipe from a friend of mine’s grandmother. I tweaked it here and there because hers was hotter than what the average person’s palate is used to. Salsa Rojas is essentially an enchilada sauce, made from dried chilis. We use several types of chilis, onions and garlic. We boil it all down and then puree it with cilantro, lime juice and salt.

Salsa Verde: This salsa is created with tomatillos, which are not as sweet as tomatoes. They are a little bitter, which makes this a nice complement to the other salsas on the tower. We take the tomatillos, onions, jalapeño and garlic and roast them all in the oven. Then we add a smidge of water, cilantro, lime juice and salt. 

Habanero Salsa: This one is made with tomatoes, onions, habanero chilis and garlic—all roasted in the oven. It’s then pureed and finished with orange juice instead of lime juice. The reason is because habanero chili is so hot it has almost a chemically flavor to it. The sweetness of the orange juice helps balance out that heat, making it come through a little less.