I’m not ashamed to admit it: I eat because sauce exists. Having tacos? Better pass that guac right on over. Brunch? Gimme all the hollandaise. French fries? Well, those basically exist as fried edible spoons that serve as a vessel for getting sauce from ramekins onto my taste buds.
If it weren’t for sauce, I wouldn’t eat most things. I’m not above asking for extra and tacking on an extra 75 cents per sauce to my bill.
Here are five of Charlotte’s sauces to track down if you are a true sauce lover.
For years I’ve heard about New-York-based Pio Pio, namely their Green Sauce. Finally, on a dark and stormy night, we made the trek from our Pawtucket/West Side home all the way to shiny Dilworth and it was totally worth it. The Green Sauce is Peruvian Aji Sauce, made with jalapeños, cilantro, and aji chiles. It makes all bright on even the rainiest of days.
1408 East Blvd., A1 and 15025 Lancaster Hwy.
Sabor is the OG of sauce for me. It all started with the empanadas. These doughy, cheese-and-meat-filled or veggie-filled pockets of goodness are good enough by themselves but then Sabor goes above and beyond by giving you their rosada sauce with just a little dab of sour cream. You pair that with their salsa bar and you are in condiment paradise.
415 Hawthorne Lane and other locations
I’m a sucker for tater tots. This elementary school classic is made even better with dipping sauce. I suggest their avocado ranch or the chipotle ranch. While you’re at it, put it on your burger, your fries and — fine — your salad.
1101 Central Ave.
If you haven’t made it a county over to Cramerton’s downtown, stop what you’re doing and go (unless it’s on a Sunday, y’all, this is the Bible Belt). I typically go for the corn and poblano tacos but recently stepped out and grabbed some of their seasoned fries. Because they have a Southwestern avocado dressing. Sure, this is intended for salads, but who’s got time for vegetables when fries exist? This is totally worth the extra pocket change.
119 Center St. # B, Cramerton
The best thing that happened to Viva Chicken was their self-serve sauce bar. Where you once had to ask for sauce at the counter (a way of life for a sauce fanatic), you can now serve yourself their yellow Aji Amarillo (mild) sauce, green Hucatay (medium) sauce and red Rocoto (hot) sauce. An order of plantains, a plethora of sauces and your life will be forever changed.
1617 Elizabeth Ave. and other locations
Got good sauce ideas? Let me know in the comments below. I never met a sauce I didn’t like.
Photo: Katie Toussaint