Whether it’s a night out with the girls or date night, Salty’s Fresh Mex offers super fresh Mexican food with several fun flavors of hand-shaken margaritas to wash it down.
Co-owned by the husband and wife team of Paul and Angie Wegeng, Salty’s Fresh Mex opened in Cottleville just over a year ago. Located at 5045 Hwy. N, the restaurant offers burritos, tacos, nachos, fajitas and Mexican-inspired bowls – all made fresh to order. The cozy space has seating for 15 tables inside, with another 10 tables available on the patio.
Paul said he always wanted to do Mexican “because there are so many flavors and tastes and different combinations.” A self-taught cook, he says patrons shouldn’t expect “authentic” Mexican food at Salty’s. He describes the restaurant’s cuisine as an “American twist on Mexican food.”
“Authentic usually means very simple because it’s cheaper to do that,” Paul said. “We are Fresh Mex. We do everything fresh. When you go to a [chain Mexican restaurant], that chicken or steak is sitting in a warmer; you don’t even have to be a cook to know that because your food comes out in seconds of you ordering it.”
At Salty’s, customers can hear the grill start sizzling as soon as an order is placed.
“We do everything fresh from our salsa and guacamole to our refried beans. We soak them and cook them up every day with our own recipe,” said Paul.
There are no fryers, freezers or microwaves at the restaurant.
“We take a lot of time to do these things,” Paul said. “We take a lot of pride in our food.
“We actually have one person who is dedicated to making our salsa. People say we have the best salsa they’ve ever had and there’s a reason because we spend a lot of time doing it.”
Salty’s is known for its burritos, which are stuffed with cilantro lime rice, cheddar cheese and queso, then smothered in a house-made taco sauce that is mixed with freshly made queso.
“It’s a great combination on top of a burrito. It’s awesome,” said Paul.
The Surf and Turf Taco tops the list of the most popular tacos ordered at the restaurant. Salty’s grills its shrimp with garlic, salt and pepper; then adds tender, grilled steak that is drizzled with an avocado poblano ranch sauce before being topped with cilantro and Cojita cheese.
Just in time for Halloween, Head Chef Bryan Buffa has introduced his Voo Doo Sauce, which is described as “deadly spicy.” The restaurant offers the sauce on shrimp tacos and the fajita bowl, but it’s not the only Buffa-inspired sauce on the menu, just one of the very popular ones.
“It’s been so popular that people ask for it on top of other things, too,” Buffa said.
For those looking for a little less spice, but still wanting a kick, the Baja Sauce offers the best of both worlds.
“It’s like a spicy Mexican steak sauce with coriander and cayenne,” Buffa said.
To combat the spice, Salty’s offers some delicious adult beverages, including 10 different margaritas. From the traditional lime or strawberry margarita to a prickly pear or blood orange margarita, Paul said the secret to the flavorful concoctions is the time and preparation spent making them.
“We take the time to shake our margaritas,” Paul said.
The effort has paid off. Paul said he’s already looking for a second location.
“We want to have three or four [Salty’s locations] in the next five years,” said Paul. “But we don’t want to grow too fast. Our focus is offering 100 percent quality and taking good care of our customers.”