Guapo’s Famous Fresh Pico de Gallo

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This salsa is one of the most sought after recipes in DC, and a little digging unearthed the Washington Post article from 2006 with the recipe. It takes less than 5 minutes and is hands down the best salsa ever.

Guapos SalsaThis salsa and I go way back… to one of my first nights away from home in LA. I went to college in Washington, DC and this restaurant, Guapo’s, was the place to go if you were a kid from my university. Over the years it became one of my favorites and when we moved back to DC years later we ended up living directly across the street.

This salsa is one of my strongest memories of all those years in DC. It’s spicy, delicious, and easy to throw together. It is one of the staples in our house, used to top meats, salads, used in making my favorite Toasted Mexican Rice, and even with chips on rare occasion. 😉

Guapo's Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa



Guapo's Famous Pico de Gallo Salsa

5 from 15 votes
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Course: Salsa
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
This salsa is one of the most sought after recipes in DC, and a little digging unearthed the Washington Post article from 2006 with the recipe. It takes less than 5 minutes and is hands down the best salsa ever.


  • 1 large jalapeno , stemmed (halve and remove seeds for less heat)
  • 1 can tomato juice (11-12 oz)
  • 1 small white onion , chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes , cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Place the jalapeno chili peppers in a food processor with the tomato juice and pulse until almost smooth.

  2. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin and oil, stirring to combine.

  3. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  4. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from:

Nutrition Information

Yield: 1 quart, Amount per serving: 360 calories, Calories: 360g, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 3515mg, Potassium: 878mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 2740g, Vitamin C: 60.6g, Calcium: 91g, Iron: 3.2g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: Guapo's Famous Fresh Pico de Gallo (Copycat), pico de gallo, Restaurant Style Salsa, salsa

Guapos Salsa

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  1. How kid friendly is this? Will seeding the jalapeños make it kid friendly or should I just omit the jalapeños?

    1. Spice is subjective so you can just leave them out if you’re worried but deseeding them takes the heat out but leaves the flavor.

  2. So excited to see this recipe! My daughter spent 8 years living in DC and Guapo’s was a favorite of ours when she was a student at American University. Can’t wait to make it!

  3. This sounds amazing!! Wondering what your thoughts on canning this would be. I have so many tomatoes from my garden that I’d love to can up some of your salsa!!

    1. I really wish I knew a thing about canning but I can tell you to check out Foodie with Family blog. They should be able to get you started with that. Hope this helps!

  4. I’ve been going to Guapos in Bethesda since 2000 and I will tell you this is the exact taste which is so shocking. Thank you so much I’ve been wondering what ingredients they use

  5. this was excellent! i’ve long been searching for a homemade salsa that will make both me & my partner happy, and this is it. i had never heard of putting tomato juice in salsa, this is definitely the secret ingredient for me (esp as he’s a big fan of the “salsa water” and i’m here for the pico de gallo). the best part is my regular grocery store sells individual cans of campbell’s tomato juice (11.5 oz) so i can buy exactly as much as we need.

    anyway, made this along with the beef barbacoa last night and fried my own tortilla chips for the first time and the chips and salsa were actually the star. i put half the salsa in a bowl and not a single chip or drop of salsa was left. for better or worse, i know i’ll never be able to buy either one again, haha.

    1. Thank you so much for coming back and letting me know what you thought! Totally made my day. 🙂 And yes, the tomato juice seemed so odd when I read it, but once I tried it I was hooked.

  6. I love guapos! My college roommate turned me onto it when I lived in Maryland – used to go to one up in Gaithersburg area (my mind is slipping). But then I worked in Bethesda and was spoiled having one down the way on Wisc Ave! Thank you for bringing back memories… And one of the best salsas ever.

    1. Oh my goodness, if you are a fan of guapos you HAVE to make it and report back what you think! I spent HOURS searching before I came up with the actual recipe and I was so excited to find it I sent my husband to the store literally seconds later for the tomato juice! We make this every time we have Mexican food now!

  7. My husband is a huge fan of pico de gallo. I will share this recipe with him! I think it frustrates him because he has not found a recipe that is really good. Maybe this one is the one he is looking for!

  8. I love to put pico de gallo on my tacos and fajitas! It really adds some flavor! I mean, it tastes good as it is, but pico de gallo takes it over the top!

    1. I always need chips! I added this salsa to some leftover Mexican rice last night as a quick dinner. I was proud of myself for skipping the chips, haha.

  9. I love me some chips and salsa. This pico sounds like a treat for my tongue, although I might would leave the seeds in because I like the extra heat 😀

  10. You have me reminiscing about my favorite eateries in college. The recipe sounds delicious!

  11. This looks so delicious. I will have to try this recipe this weekend. I am sure we will love it.

  12. This looks really good. I’m sure it is healthier than store bought kinds. Thank you for this recipe.

  13. I LOVE me some Pico de Gallo. We recently started making at home since it’s fresher that way. I will have to try this recipe now!

  14. I love a home made salsa, so quick and easy and much, much tastier than out of a jar! Looks delicious!

    1. Thank you! I’m a big fan of easy and store bought fresh salsas, but this one is just too good and still easy so I make it pretty regularly 🙂

    1. I used to go to this restaurant just for the chips and salsa and order a drink just so I had to pay something! The salsa is that amazing… now I just need to learn how to make the super thin chips!

  15. Salsa is always welcome in my house, especially because I’m working on a baked tortilla chip recipe now! 🙂

  16. Nothing tastes quite like fresh pico and this recipe sounds delicious. I like the addition of tomato juice for a bit less chunk.

    1. I remember when I found their recipe and saw tomato juice, I just was so shocked, I had never considered using tomato juice!

  17. All of those spices sound awesome in this salsa. I can see why it’s such a sought after recipe.

  18. oooh weee, that looks HOT! I love pico, but I like it on the veggie side. My husband can take the heat, though.

  19. This looks great! I LOVE pico de gallo and the one I make is a drier chunkier kind. I may switch it up and make this one next!

    1. It really is a winner, I promise! Everyone I ever took to the restaurant asked for more and more salsa during the meal!

  20. That looks delicious! I’m a huge fan of pico de gallo. It’s one of my favorite dips.

  21. My husband would love this recipe as he really likes Pico de Gallo Salsa. Will copy your link and send it to him in an email so he can have it handy when we get fresh garden veggies.

  22. Oh Sabrina, you’re killing me with all the awesome recipes you keep posting over here. How about if you just move next door to me so I can come over and mooch, errr help taste test all your awesomeness.

    1. Hahaha, my friends and husband’s coworkers are really enjoying my blog because they get to eat all the extra food left over!