Along with every burrito, quesadilla, or platter, Cancun Taqueria serves a pile of corn chips and a ramekin: your ticket to the restaurant’s salsa bar. You’d need more than a dozen extra containers to taste all of the salsas on hand, which range from mild melon and grainy pumpkinseed sauces to the “macho” salsa, chockfull of big chunks of jalapeños. Tucked away in the far corner is a bowl labeled “Infierno — XX hot.” We’d like to suggest Cancun adds another X. If you dip a chip — we’re not talking about picking up seeds or chunks of anything, just getting it wet — into this thin, coarsely blended salsa and pop it into your mouth, you’ll catch a whiff of the unique floral aroma of habañero, the hottest chile in North America. That scent is your two-second warning that all the skin in your mouth is about to blister and peel. We’ve watched the infierno make grown men sob, and have felt our own tastebuds freeze up in shock after being exposed to a few drops. Yet Cancun continues to make it. And its customers continue to torture themselves with it. Why? We ask you. Why?
La Cascada Taqueria
2164 Center St., Berkeley, 510-704-8688
2975 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-704-1789