Beer & BBQ Summer Demo

Beer & BBQ Summer Cooking Demo at The Salsa Grill

Chef Marco Zapien will host a special “Beer & BBQ” themed Summer cooking demo at The Salsa Grill on Wednesday, June 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Cooking demo attendees will have the opportunity to learn nine different recipes, including a signature drink, Watermelon and Basil Coronarita, two appetizers, one salad, four main courses and a dessert. Each menu item includes some Mexican flare and beer, combined with Chef MZ’s creativity to line up a summer filled with cooking inspiration.

Chef MZ will take guests through each item and will provide copies of each recipe, as well as some of his kitchen secrets. 

The menu includes items such as Citrus Marinated Carnitas Crepes with Tecate maple syrup and Oven Braised Beef Brisket, which includes Blue Moon Citrus Ju. To view the full cooking demo menu, click here. 

On top of this expansive menu demonstration and trying each item listed, guests will enjoy each item demonstrated, drink specials and more. The cost is $55 per person. 

Click here to register and view the class menu. Space is limited. 

It’s Hatch Chile Season at The Salsa Grill

Hatch Chile season is here and The Salsa Grill is ready with three events surely to take advantage of the bright green, glossy pepper’s annual availability.

It's Hatch Chile Season at The Salsa GrillFor the eighth year, Chef Marco Zapien is hosting an interactive, Hatch Chile cooking demonstration, Hatch Chile roast and Hatch Chile brunch.

Every summer, New Mexican Hatch Chiles are ripe enough to enjoy and Chef MZ makes a late summer celebration out of it.

The cooking demo on Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 6 -8 p.m. is where participants will learn how to make several Hatch Chile recipes. The exact menu is not out yet, but last year, Chef MZ impressed his participants with Hatch Chile Chile Verde, just after being voted best Chile Verde in Los Angeles by the L.A. Times. 

Recipes for more than seven different Hatch Chile dishes, including dessert, will be demonstrated and then served for all to enjoy. Class goers will take home recipes and step-by-step directions. The cost is $50 per person. Every year the class fills up, so reserve a spot early

This year’s Hatch cooking demo will give class attendees a taste of what the Hatch Chile roast is all about; Chef MZ will do a live roast at the cooking demo. And what would a cooking demo be without a raffle – the raffle prizes vary from Salsa Grill swag to a free case of roasted Hatch Chiles, available for pick-up on or after the Hatch Chile Roast on Saturday, Sept. 8 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can reserve your case of roasted Hatch Chiles now, as well as select the level of spice –  from mild to very hot. Each case is $40 and includes 25 pounds of Hatch Chiles. 

That same day, the restaurant will host a special Hatch Chile brunch, also from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The brunch includes a complete Hatch Chile inspired menu. Adult brunch includes champagne or Mimosas. 

The Salsa Grill parking lot in front of the restaurant will be filled with roasters and cases of chiles as the restaurant works closely with Melissa’s Produce to ensure the most flavorful peppers for the roast, cooking demo and brunch. Reserve your cases of Hatch Chiles here.

Check out the Hatch Chile cooking demo menu here, Chef MZ’s Hatch Chile brunch menu will be available soon. 


Chef MZ Heads to MLB All-Star Game

MLB standouts from all over the country may dominate the field at the 2018 MLB All-Star game, but there’s a another team of stars who feed all the fans flocking to Nationals Park to see the action, and Chef Marco Zapien is part of that roster. Chef MZ Heads to MLB All-Star Game

Zapien, also known as Chef MZ, will be attending the All-Star Game in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Melissa’s World Variety Produce, where he is also a corporate chef. 

The produce company will have four different areas within the stadium where they will be offering fans some healthy alternatives, including Melissa’s Organic Drinking Coconuts and Clean Snax.

Chef MZ will be overseeing the operations and making sure the stands are well represented, and will be working with other chefs from Melissa’s Produce. 

Through his work with Melissa’s, Chef MZ has traveled the nation’s sports and entertainment venues and has even had the opportunity to cook and consult at events such as the Grammy’s. 

Salsa Grill’s Marco Zapien Named to Chamber Executive Board

Chef Marco Zapien, Executive Chef and co-owner of Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria, will be named to the Pico Rivera Chamber of Commerce Executive Board in a special ceremony on Friday, June 15. Salsa Grill Participates at East LA Meets Napa

Zapien will serve as Secretary on  the Executive Board for one year, which will be made official at the Pico Rivera Chamber’s Installation and Awards Banquet held at the Swiss Park Banquet Center in Whittier.

For many years, Zapien has been an active member of the Pico River Chamber of Commerce by volunteering, donating food and drinks and sponsoring various events. 

Zapien’s involvement will expand as he becomes more involved with the chamber in his role as secretary, and in events including the upcoming Pico Rivera Chamber Golf Tournament on Friday, July 13 at the Pico Rivera Golf Course. 

Like most chambers, the Pico Rivera Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to helping local companies grow their business by taking the lead in various programs and events. 

The chamber has hundreds of members and is constantly growing its base in adding small, medium and large businesses to its roster. 

With over 20 years as the Executive Chef and co-owner of The Salsa Grill, Zapien proved his leadership years before as a chef for various sports & entertainment venus throughout the U.S., and now as a Corporate Chef for Melissa’s Produce. Zapien also owns a catering company, Black Tie & Blue Jeans Catering. 



Cinco de Mayo Cooking Demo at The Salsa Grill

Chef Marco Zapien will host a special Cinco de Mayo themed cooking demo at The Salsa Grill on Wednesday, May 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. Cinco de Mayo Cooking Demo

Cooking demo attendees will have the opportunity to learn seven different recipes, including a signature drink, five main courses and a dessert. Each menu item includes some Mexican flare combined with Chef MZ’s creativity to line up with the Cinco de Mayo celebration the following weekend. 

Chef MZ will take guests through each item and will provide copies of each recipe, as well as some of his kitchen secrets. 

The menu includes items such as Durito Street Corn Gratin, which is roasted sweet corn mixed with Chipotle seasoning and Carnitas Classicas with Enchilada de Nopal, which includes the tender chunks of pork used in the restaurant’s Chile Verde that helped them earn the title of ‘Best Chile Verde’ in Los Angeles last year. To view the full cooking demo menu, click here

On top of this expansive menu demonstration and trying each item listed, guests will enjoy each item demonstrated, drink specials and more. The cost is $45 per person. 

Click here to register and view the class menu. Space is limited. 


Amid controversy, Pico Rivera eatery takes ‘The Mayor,’ named after Gregory Salcido, off the menu

January 29, 2018

Amid controversy, Pico Rivera eatery takes ‘The Mayor,’ named after Gregory Salcido, off the menu

A popular lunch special at Zapien’s Salsa Grill named to honor El Rancho High teacher and Pico Rivera City Councilman Gregory Salcido was pulled from the menu Sunday in response to videos Salsa Grill removes 'The Mayor' from menuthat surfaced two days prior in which he is heard making anti-military remarks.

Chef Marco Zapien named the enchilada plate the politician frequently ordered “The Mayor,” in his honor in 2015, when Salcido was mayor, his third, one-year rotation with the gavel since being elected in 1999.


“It was a dish — chile verde served over two enchiladas — that Mr. Salcido specially ordered every time he came into the restaurant,” Zapien said. “So I decided to put it on our menu of lunch specials.”

On Sunday and Monday, Zapien — who has co-owned the restaurant with his father, Jess, for 24 years — received the first of three emails asking him to remove the meal from the menu. At least one was from out of state.

He did so willingly.

“I am outraged by what he said against our military personnel and our veterans,” said Zapien, who for the past 15 years has donated his time to teaching aspiring chefs at local high schools. “I don’t condone or support anything Mr. Salcido said.”

In the videos posted Friday on Facebook, one of which has been viewed more than 6 million times, Salcido is heard saying the only reason a student would go into the military is because they don’t qualify for college, and that military members are “lowest of the low.”

A plate being named for someone is not unusual at Salsa Grill. Regulars who repeatedly order the same item often get their concoctions named after them, Zapien said.

“It’s just something fun we do,” he said.

Zapien — who last month initiated a program for all military personnel currently serving and veterans, as well as first-responders to receive 50 percent off their bill — responded personally to the emails.

“We 100 percent support our military servicemen and women and DO NOT, in any way, support Mr. Salcido’s stance or his comments made public from his classroom. I have great respect for all who serve and have served in our armed forces and I will remove that menu item immediately,” he wrote in response to one of the emails.

While the chile verde-adorned enchiladas won’t be called “The Mayor” anymore, patrons can get the dish made for them upon request, Zapien added.

Salsa Grill Partners with Latino Kids Health, Hosts Holiday Toy Drive

Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria will be bringing joy to those in need this holiday season.  The restaurant is currently running its seventh annual gift drive. Salsa Grill Hosts Annual Toy Drive

Running through Sunday, Dec. 17, all unwrapped toys donated will be delivered Latino Kids Health in Montebello to be distributed to less fortunate families, with teens and children, just in time for Christmas.

The Salsa Grill is offering adults 50 percent off their meal (per item, per person) and children (12 and under) will eat free with any unwrapped, new toy. A win-win situation.

Chef and owner Marco Zapien works closely with the community by giving his time all year long by donating, providing food, and catering to those in need.  This holiday season is no different as Chef Zapien will provide his own bundle of gifts and toys to the drive.

In previous years, the restaurant’s toy drives have helped the local community through various churches. In 2016, over 200 toys were collected. The restaurant is hoping to exceed that this year.

Latino Kids (LK) Health is a non-profit organization which provides health care sites and health care to Latino communities. 

Get into the holiday spirit and donate a gift to a family in need.

The Family Grill

November 1, 2017

The Family Grill


In the beginning of the business venture, all the family members which included Marco Zapien’s parents and two brothers, were involved in the day-to-day business.  Although, each of the siblings had their own separate career paths, Marco Zapien was the one who was more interested in the culinary arts.  

Marco Zapien attended the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and graduated with honors in 1997. Soon after his graduation, he began his culinary career at a restaurant just up the corner, the Dal Rae. Later in his career, Zapien followed as a chef in the sports and entertainment industry. He became the sous chef at Edison International Field of Anaheim, now Angel Stadium of Anaheim.


Zapien’s Salsa Grill is unique to the City of Pico Rivera. Salsa Grill started out much like a whim. The opportunity presented itself over twenty years ago when the restaurant space became available. According to Marco Zapien, his father Jess always dreamed of owning a restaurant, so as the opportunity arose, the family came together and Salsa Grill opened its doors in 1994.


Building a solid culinary reputation in the Sports and Entertainment Industry, he soon worked for professional sports teams throughout the country including The Portland Trailblazers, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Saint Louis Rams, the Oakland Raiders, the Oakland Athletics, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. During his career in professional sports, Zapien was present for two Laker Championships, the Angels World Championship, and the Anaheim Ducks run for the Stanley Cup. Zapien would leave his Executive Chef post at the Arrowhead Pond in 2003 to partner up with his father at the Salsa Grill.  

The Salsa Grill is a special place, a labor of love for all those involved. Zapien takes extra special care of all his customers, as does the staff. When you walk through the door of Salsa Grill, you are immediately taken back to a time when your own home smelled of home cooking as your parents toiled in the kitchen cooking secret family recipes. In fact, it’s the family recipes that are behind some of the most delicious dishes offered at the Salsa Grill. The menu is inspired by tradition, recipes that were handed down by Zapien’s parents and grandparents. It’s about Marco Zapien and the staff who bring traditional recipes from their respective homes and backgrounds. Recipes that are like no other, and are unique to any one family. While ingredients may be identical, it’s the way it is prepared, and perhaps the measurements and care that goes into the preparation.


Dishes at Salsa Grill are prepared with fresh ingredients and more importantly from scratch. According to Zapien, that is what sets them apart from the other restaurants. Everything is made in house, from the tortilla chips, to the dressings, it’s all is made carefully by the Salsa Grill staff. According to Zapien, he prides himself on making everything from scratch, creating that “homey” feel to the customers. Many customers have complimented Marco that it reminds them of their grandmother’s or mother’s cooking.

Just like any other restaurant, the menu is important to the success of any restaurant. Salsa Grill’s menu is unique and a testament to the steady clientele the restaurant serves on a daily basis. There are dishes in the menu that are traditional Mexican plates and are named after Zapien’s good friends or regular visitors, including “The Eddie Blanco Special,” “the Jack Thomas Omelet,” or for lunch, you may find a “Dionicio Morales’ Favorite,” or “Lizette’s Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad.” It’s the benefit of being the owner and Executive Chef. 

Zapien commented on having fun with food trends and dishes for special occasions. During these nights, a specialty item will be available that is not normally offered such as Ribs or Roasted Chicken.  

The most popular dishes are the weekend items, Menudo and Pozole. Zapien admitted that he sees an influx of customers on Sundays, especially after local church services. Zapien also sees many regular customers, some of which have been coming to the restaurant for decades. Because the Zapien family has been in Pico Rivera for such a long time, many customers are those the family grew up with. Many customers are former classmates and teachers of Zapien.

Being an Executive Chef and co-owner is not all about the cooking, “there’s tons of office work as well” quipped Zapien. It could be stressful, but according to Zapien, one of the greatest de-stressors is actually spending time in the kitchen. “My stress reliever is to get in the kitchen” said Zapien. “I’ll go in the kitchen and try and do something, create something that I have been thinking about in my head… that’s how I work it out.” Cooking is such a passion for Zapien that he often comes up with ideas in the middle of the night or on his way home and immediately writes it down or sends himself an email to remind him to try it out.

The support of the community is astounding. As much as the community has supported Salsa Grill, Salsa Grill has supported the community by sponsoring youth sports teams in the area, participating in charitable causes organized by local churches, bi-annual sponsorship of the El Rancho High School Golf Program, and donates to local schools, clubs and organizations.

Salsa Grill has been a family owned staple in the City for 23 years. Zapien added that there are talks about opening a second location however, right now nothing is concrete. Zapien also added that the current location isn’t going anywhere. “I’m definitely keeping this location,” said Zapien, “because it’s been so good to us and the community has supported us for so long. It’s where we will always be.”

Show 199, November 26, 2016: Chef/Proprietor Marco Zapien, Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria

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It’s our salute to Small Business Saturday and the backbone of small business, the family-owned, local dining destination.

Since 1994 Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueriahas been the standout Mexican restaurant in Pico Rivera. It recently underwent a major refreshening.

In 2003, Chef Marco Zapien joined The Grill full-time as the Executive Chef and partnered with his father, Jess, to become co-owner. Chef Marco has elevated the cuisine and enhanced its popularity well beyond the borders of Pico Rivera. He also operates a full-service catering firm creating dishes of global cuisine beyond the Mexican pantry.

Chef Marco has refined a unique style of cooking that incorporates two generations of his mother’s and father’s family recipes with the passionate creativity he has enhanced throughout his culinary career.

The Salsa Grill serves truly traditional Mexican food with items such as Lengua and Enchilades en Mole on the Chef’s Specialties menu, Camarones Mojo De Ajo and Tequila Fried Shrimp on its Seafood Specialty Menu, and fresh Menudo, Cocido and Pozole served daily.

They even make their own tortillas right there fresh throughout the day. This is the base of their addictive tortilla chips, too. Can’t get any fresher than this! Most everything (including all sauces) is created from scratch on site. That’s a genuine commitment to quality!

Chef Marco is our guest.

Pico Rivera chef, owner of Zapien’s, honored by Cal High culinary academy in Whittier

Chef Marco Zapien is honored by the California High School Culinary Arts Academy by naming one of their program “kitchens” after their long-time volunteer instructor during a special ceremony at the school. Zapien, owner and chef at Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria in Pico Rivera, has been an active volunteer and donor to the program for over five years. Sept. 28, 2016. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)
Chef Marco Zapien is honored by the California High School Culinary Arts Academy by naming one of their program “kitchens” after their long-time volunteer instructor during a special ceremony at the school. Zapien, owner and chef at Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria in Pico Rivera, has been an active volunteer and donor to the program for over five years. Sept. 28, 2016. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb, SGV Tribune/ SCNG)

By SANDRA T. MOLINA | | San Gabriel Valley Tribune


WHITTIER >> The California High School Culinary Arts Academy named one of its kitchens after a longtime supporter during a ceremony Wednesday.

Marco Zapien, owner and executive chef at Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria in his hometown of Pico Rivera, was praised for his volunteer work with students for the past 15 years.

“He’s been an integral part of this program,” said lead academy teacher Corey Duarte.

She thanked Zapien, who is part of the day-to-day operations of Salsa Grill along with his father, Jess Zapien, for his countless hours of volunteering to impart his professional wisdom.

“He shows them the fundamentals of cooking,” Duarte said.

• PHOTOS: See Marco Zapien accepting the honor in the Cal High culinary school kitchen

He follows family recipes, prepares the dishes in front of the students and shows them what it takes to be successful in the culinary industry.

“I love to teach,” said Zapien, who is a graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute.

He also tries to let students know they can achieve their dreams because he is just like them.

“I’m just a kid from Pico,” Zapien said.

Zapien said he wants students to know they, like him, can serve as head chef at Angel Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Staples Center and other sports and entertainment venues, and serve as the corporate chef for Melissa’s Produce.

“He is so inspiring,” said student Alex Anchondo, 17. “He shows that not everyone starts at the top, but with hard work you can achieve anything.”

“He’s taught us that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but the hard work you put into making your dreams come true,” added fellow senior Jayla Beltran, 17.

The academy divides students into smaller individual groups or “kitchens” for more hands-on experience and an interactive learning environment. A few of the other chefs these kitchens are named after include Julia Child, Duff Goldman and Bobby Flay.