No, this is not how you might look after temporarily reverting back to your thirsty college days and gracing “Dirty Sixth” (the college area of 6th Street) with your presence. 6th Street Green is my new-found favorite Green Salsa, and even better, it’s made and sold locally! Growing up on the border of Mexico in El Paso, Texas has taught my tastebuds a thing or two about true salsa– usually it doesn’t look or taste like tomato sauce, it’s hearty, fresh, and has a nice kick.
The “6th Street Green”, made, bottled, and sold at 6th Street hot sauce shop Tears of Joy, is a flavor-packed, sweet, yet tangy dipping delight and after falling in love with it at the Austin Hot Sauce Festival a few weeks ago, I went through my bottle in about 1 week.
Fast-forward a few weeks to the present. Today, I am headed out of home sweet Austin for a short while to visit my sister and her hubby in California. When I started thinking about my thank-you-for-hosting-me gifts for them and their extended family that will be having us for dinner, only one idea came to mind: Texas salsa…the 6th Street Green. If anyone knows salsa better than I do, it’s Julie (my older sis). (*Julie, sorry for revealing the surprise…definitely not ruining it because you will love it!)
So, I stopped by the Tears of Joy hot sauce shop on E. 6th (East of Congress, just West of I-35). I walked in and recognized my prize waiting for me to take it home on the shelf facing the entrance. I began talking to Brian Rush, the man behind the taste of these sauces I traveled blocks to buy (ok, not far, but still, I could have easily bought Texas hot sauce at the grocery store). I learned that he moved here from Colorado when he was 19, left, and when he came back, he began working for O’Shucks Tamales, his Mom’s (Joy Burleson- where the store’s name comes from) tamale restaurant. After many years of selling tamales, Joy and Brian began filling their dark wood room-length shelving unit with bottles of salsas and tamale compliments. Eventually, the hot sauces and gift baskets were such a hit, they closed down the tamale operation, and to this day, still use the kitchen from the used-to-be restaurant to make their Tears of Joy line of salsas and sauces. I even got a quick tour of the kitchen, as the 6th Street Red was simmering in the back while I had walked in to make my gift purchases.
Today, about 800 different varieties of hot sauces, including bar-b-que sauces (good thing my brother-in-law isn’t a regular reader, or his surprise would be spoiled too), line the famous shelves that turned a tamale shop into a store who’s purpose is to provide Texans and visitors with a unique taste of Austin.
Rebeccammended thank-you-for-hosting gifts: Tears of Joy 6th hot sauces. The store is located at 618 E. 6th. This weekend, head to the Old Pecan Street Festival, and stop in to see the famous shelves lined with savory sauces!
*If you’re visiting out-of-townerns and need a gift, I Rebeccammend going for a local gift from your city/state of residence. Everyone likes a gift from a different area, state, region than the one in which they live. There are many gifts that can be representative of their local region of origin. If your hosts/hostesses have visited you before, you might bring them a reminder of the tastes and memories they had during that time. Or, you can use local gifts as a way to lure your hosts in to visit your city in the future. And, when they arrive, take your out-of-towners to see this impressive little hot sauce shop.