What is it about complimentary chips and salsa that turns even the most birdlike eater into a ravenous beast? It’s a funny phenomenon: Head to any Mexican restaurant and no matter how hungry you are, chances are you’ll inhale four baskets of tortillas chips before the first margarita hits the table. At least at Chava’s, there is good reason for the madness. At this Soulard hot spot, they hand-make their deliciously addictive salsa with the same care they show the paid dishes. Onions, scallions and cilantro swim in a fire-engine red tomato puree that has just enough chili heat to make you take notice. Paper-thin and generously salted white corn chips provide the perfect vehicle for scooping up this scrumptious treat. They’ll keep refilling your order until you insist they stop, so you’d better give them an advance notice of how many baskets to bring — once you start, it’s impossible to say no to more. RFT photo.