Perro Salado then it is very likely that your mindset will change.
Perro Salado is Spanish for "salty dog," an apt phrase to pay homage to this famous fishing and sailing port. The restaurant is about four years old, a joint venture between three people: Dan Hall, Andi Johnson, and Russ Hall. Russ, Dan’s brother, always had a dream of owning a restaurant. He fell in love with Mexican cuisine and saw an opportunity in Newport, which was largely bereft of such cuisine. Dan was a chef, who had worked in Miami and New York, and was up for the challenge of opening a restaurant. Andi Johnson, the general manager, has an artistic eye and helped develop the look and decor of the restaurant. Andi also works as a bartender, helping to create the innovative cocktails on their drink list.
Before ordering your meal, you might want to start off with an alcoholic drink, and tequila reigns supreme here, from margaritas to tasting flights. There are five different types of margaritas, from the House Margarita to the Cilantro-Jalapeno, priced from $6.50-$8 per glass, or a pitcher from $30-$35. Prices are higher if you want a more expensive tequila. I very much enjoyed the taste of the Blood Orange Margarita, and they did not skimp on the tequila. For flights, you can get a Vertical (consisting of a silver, reposado and anejo from the same producer) or a Horizontal (consisting of the same grade from three different producers). You'll also find some other Mexican inspired cocktails, $6-$10, from Oaxacan Lemonade to the Pepino Fresco. I tried the Mezcal Mule, with Scorpion Silver Mezcal, ginger beer, and lime juice, though it did not impress me, needing more ginger flavor.
They offer Red and White Sangria ($11/glass, $22/pitcher) and tried a glass of their Red. I have high standards for sangria, having been spoiled by the excellent sangria at Dali. To my surprise, Perro's sangria reminded me exactly of that from Dali, and I was extremely pleased with its taste. This is sangria I could drink all night long. On the drink menu, you will also find beers, draft and in the bottle, and a small wine list, which has some interesting choices. I should also note that upon arrival, your server places a chilled bottle of water on your table, a nice touch.
Most of the cuisine is not traditional Mexican cuisine, but rather inspired by the flavors and ingredients of Mexico. The chef uses fresh ingredients, often local and/or organic, and most of the specials included local ingredients. This is another compelling reason to patronize Perro Salado, though the true test is still the taste of the food. And in that regard, Perro passes with flying colors.
An intriguing Mexican variant on a famous classic is the Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad ($9) which has jalapeño, bacon, cotija cheese, and a house dressing. The jalapeno added some appealing heat to the dish, and the cotija presented a creamy texture to the the dish. The produce seemed very fresh and I think I like this variant better than a conventional Caesar.
From the Tacqueria, I chose a Quesadilla ($8), filled with Chicken Tinga. The grilled tortilla was filled with plenty of moist, shredded chicken and melted cheese, and the sauce added a spicy edge to the dish. For the price, it was a good-sized dish and shows the kitchen can produce more traditional Mexican dishes as well as their innovative ones.
Service was very good, attentive without being overbearing. Overall, I was impressed with the cuisine, especially the sticky ribs and caesar salad, plus their philosophy of using many local and organic ingredients is a worthy one. I enjoyed its casual and homey ambiance, and their red sangria gets my hearty approval. It is clear why the restaurant attracts the crowds that it does and I would definitely return here on my next visit to Newport. I strongly recommend that my readers make a visit there too, and have some sangria and ribs.