I had the incredible opportunity of not only trying a brand of hot sauce I’d never tried before, but also attending The Offspring (and Sublime) concert in Boston, MA where I got to go backstage to meet the lead singer and creator of the Gringo Bandito hot sauce line, Dexter Holland. Despite knowing The Offspring and many of their hit songs as part of the soundtrack of my middle school and high school years, I didn’t know about this hot sauce. I also didn’t know that it is apparently available at common grocery store chains like Stop and Shop, so it’s pretty easy to find.
Dexter started the brand as a hobby because he just, “thought it would be cool to have a hot sauce,” and gifted his first batch to friends one Christmas. His friends loved it so much that he decided to run with the idea and start a hot sauce company. They now have three sauces: Red (the original), Super Hot, and Green, which can be found on Amazon or at local grocery stores.
At first glance, I have to admit that the Gringo Bandito hot sauce looks like a novelty sauce one might find at a joke or gift shop. The label itself is kind of a joke featuring a cartoon drawing of Dexter Holland dressed up as a stereotypical Wild West “bandito.” Nonetheless, that’s where the similarity ends between joke sauces bent on burning taste buds and Gringo Bandito’s finely crafted recipe. I was legitimately surprised when I tasted each sauce and actually liked them!
Red Sauce – The red Gringo Bandito is kind of like the flagship of the brand. It’s the sauce that Dexter Holland, came up with and used to start the company. It’s a really nice, standard hot sauce one might find on an American-style taco that really isn’t all that hot at all (like a way better version of Taco Bell’s mild or medium sauce). I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that it focuses more on flavor rather than heat, which makes this a well thought out hot sauce instead of just some novelty capsaicin bomb of pain a tourist might find on the shelf in some quirky gift shop somewhere. It’s a nicely crafted sauce that’s more for the gringos out there who may not necessarily like a lot of heat, but want some hot sauce flavor.
Super Hot – The hotter version of the red sauce is called, “Super Hot” and it’s definitely got some heat to it, which is why I preferred it slightly more than the basic red. It has all of the same flavors of the balanced red, but with a bit more vinegar and spice to ignite a little fire in every bite. It is also not outrageously hot, but hot enough for the banditos out there seeking a little burn.
Green Hot Sauce – My favorite – While all of the hot sauces turned out to actually have really good flavors, the green hot sauce made the biggest impression on me. I would buy this again for sure because it is just fantastic with tacos, burritos, eggs, and fatty barbecue. I especially loved it on some homemade smoked brisket that I paired with eggs. The green sauce is reminiscent of a tomatillo style salsa, but smooth and mildly spicy. It’s just the right amount of tangy and heat to add flavor, but without being obnoxiously hot.
Overall Impression – Pleasantly surprised. I honestly, thought that when I got these hot sauces in the mail that they might be a gimmick and I wouldn’t find them appetizing, which would make writing about them much harder. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and I genuinely enjoyed these sauces (especially the green, which will take up permanent residence in my fridge). It also made going backstage to see The Offspring play that much more awesome. It was great meeting Dexter and hearing that music of my childhood live. My friend who was with me who tried the sauces and saw the show said, “You know, I wasn’t all that big of an Offspring fan before, but now I think I really like The Offspring!” Hot sauce and music – winning people over with an unlikely yet oddly perfect pairing!
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