Howling Wolf is a casual dining restaurant in Salem,MA specializing in Burritos,Tacos, and all things Tex-Mex.The restaurant is across the street from the fire station and near artist row in Salem. There can be long waits to get a table at the restaurant, and do not bother calling to make a reservation because they have a first come first served policy for tables. You should call in though if you want take out of delivery, because for a 20 dollar minimum Howling Wolf will deliver anywhere in Salem.
A bit of disclosure, I have been eating at howling wolf since a few weeks after they opened in 2010. I have been there close to 100 times, at one point once a week for almost a year. It is one of my favorite restaurants, so this is not the most unbiased review in the world. I have not been paid to write any of this, mostly writing about it first because I am so familiar with it.
The Menu at Howling wolf has many sections, Appetizers are called wolf bites and the mini taquitos are very good. They have specialty tacos and regular tacos. If you want to order more than 3 tacos that is why they have a per taco price as an option. I will say unless you are very hungry you don’t need more than 3 tacos. You can also get three different kinds on one plate and pay the per taco price for each. Burritos have specialty options, but also a simple pick your meat and fillings option. There are also chimichangas, fajitas, enchiladas, and a selection of wolf favorites that are things like tres amigos and carne asada.
For drinks they have a large selection of alcohols to choose from. They have very good Margarita’s (so I have been told, see the previous article for explanation why I won’t go too detailed into drinks.). For non-alcoholic beverages they have a selection of Mexican Jarritos that does rotate a bit on what they have, I recommend the pineapple. They also have Mexican Coca-Cola, and fountain sodas If you don’t want to get a bottled drink.
Portion sizes are large. They start with bottomless chips and salsa. I would highly recommend getting some queso to go with the chips if you are in a group it is very good. The burritos are large, and you won’t go hungry from eating one. Almost everything is of a portion size that you will likely be taking home leftovers at the end of the meal. If you want something a bit lighter they do offer the burrito as a burrito bowl, or you can order a single or just 2 tacos as well.
Price wise they are one of your cheapest options in Salem. A specialty burrito like the Howling Wolf, or Fiesta Chicken Wing Burrito is only 11.99. There has been more than once where I was cheaper for me to eat at Howling Wolf than at Chipotle. These low prices make it a very popular spot for college students, locals, and budget conscious tourists.
Part of why the prices can stay so low comes down to simple economics. A large portion of the cost of food at a restaurant is not the ingredients, but rather the overhead for the space. Howling Wolf is always packed, If you go after 6pm on any day you may have a wait. I avoid it in October because it can have hour long waits. It is packed, and because of this they don’t need to charge as much per plate to cover overhead.
The service at howling wolf is very good considering how busy they are. I have never had a problem with an order being entered wrong. Some of the waiters there have been working there for years, and they know how to handle how busy they are. The speed they get everything out at is sometimes shocking. This comes down to many things being line style prepared, where they are assembling and cooking things to order, but some ingredients made ahead of time.
The atmosphere is very trendy and tex-mex. It is a somewhat industrial feel to the place. Some of the chairs are close together, they manage to pack in many tables. They have art from local artists on display year round, and the pieces are even available for purchase. There is outdoor seating when the weather is nice, Even in October because they do have heaters for when its cooler out. The style of this place matches the hip up and coming style that has come to characterize many places in Salem. The only real downside is it can be loud at times in the main dining room. This is because of how many tables they have and how busy they are.
For this article I went twice to howling wolf, Once for lunch by myself, and once with a friend for dinner. Both times I was seated immediately this was mostly because I went at lunch time (when they are not too busy on a Monday), and later in the evening on a Saturday. I will say one perk of only going with two people here is they have about five 2-top tables, which tend to not fill up as often as some of the main tables. Both times we were greeted quickly by our waitstaff carrying chips and salsa for us to start.
My first visit by myself I ordered three shrimp tacos and a Mexican Coke. The Mexican came cold in the bottle, and if you have ever had a Mexican Coke you would know that it is made with sugar so it tastes far better than American Cola that is made with corn syrup. The shrimp Tacos came quickly. Each taco had a large portion of shrimp on them, came on corn tortilla, had avocado slices, mango salsa, and a mango chile puree. The best way to describe the taste was very vibrant. The Shrimp were well seasoned, and the fruit compliments it well. It is a very light taco, and very tasty. Plating is very simple, just the three tacos on a plate. While they were light, 3 of them was more than enough food. I was in and out within 45 minutes.
My Second visit I went with a friend of mine. I ordered a Pineapple Jarrito, and a Fiesta Chicken Burrito. My friend stuck to just water and got the signature Howling wolf Burrito. Both of our burritos came with the sauce on-top of the burrito. This means it is by far a knife and fork type of dish. My pinnapple Jarrito was very good, came cold and had a very sweet but refreshing taste, they also are made with sugar not corn syrup. My burrito as the description on the menu says came with Grilled chicken tossed in wing sauce, rice,cheese,pinto beans, celery, blue cheese dressing, corn salsa, and green chile sauce on-top. It was spicy and each component could be tasted individually and contributed in whole to a delicious dish. The meat is grilled chicken that is tossed in the wing sauce. It was also huge, enough food that I did not need anything else the rest of the day.
My friend got the howling wolf burrito Which comes with carne deshebrada (a pulled beef in spicy tomato sauce), rice, cheese, pinto beans, howling sauce (their spiciest hot sauce), guac, with queso and Christmas (red and green) sauces ontop. I have had this burrito multiple times and can tell you it is huge, delicious, messy and filling. My friend liked it, he finished the entire burrito. A side note; if you don’t want the sauce poured on-top of the burrito they do offer it on the side. If you order delivery it will automatically come on the side. We were done with our meal and onto the next activity of the night within an hour, which is impressive considering every table inside and out was full.
Whether you eat in or order out Howling wolf is your best option in Salem, Marblehead, or North Andover. They have howling wolf expresses in Marblehead, and North Andover ( which are more like a chipotle than a sit down restaurant) . If you are in Salem it is worth the wait to go to howling wolf. As they would say you need to feed your good wolf.
As always hope you enjoyed reading,
Go With The Winds.
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