My wife and I are going out for a birthday dinner and we never go out for Mexican cuisine. So which would be a preferable upscale choice on a Friday evening Rosa Mexicano or Maya. An additional factor is that we try and eat as healthfully as possible although we are very lenient for special occasions.
You're looking for help in choosing a Mexican restaurant and people suggest newpanlatino and Spanish restaurants all while discssing the meaning of the restaurant's names. Perhaps in the spirit of the group I should suggest you eat in French restaurant. ;-)
OK, I'm not a big fan of Mexican food, although Maya has provided a couple of very tasty meals that brought me back. It's also provided some over done glop that didn't pass for upscale and cooled my interests. I've only eaten at Rosa Mexicana once. It could have been chance, but Maya was the one that lasted longer in our short list. The guacamole was better at Rosa Mexicana and the fact that my last meal at Maya may well have been my last there may make my vote count for very little.
Try Zarela's on 2nd Ave and 50th Street. It's much better than what what normally passes for Mexican food in NY. Interesting ingredients, sauces with depth to them. It's a lively place though so if you are looking for a quiet evening out you might save this for another time.
I agree with Chris that Zarela's is far better than Rosa Mexicano (which does have terrific guacamole) or Maya (which I've only been to once, in fairness).
The appetizers and side dishes are especially strong at Zarela's. Some personal favorites include the snapper hash, tender and moist tamales, queso fundido, the tortas, and most of the vegetable dishes. If they have the corn and crab soup, try it.
I find Zarela's frustrating because, while her cookbooks are generally wonderful, it's as though she's been in the US too long and her menus are apprpriately "crowdpleasing" (read: bland). As the other person said, it's more about the apps & sides there than the entrees.
Maya is probably your best bet; it's the most romantic room of any of the restaurants mentioned, and the food is uniformly great, if not exceptional. It's also a nice balance between authenticity/tradition and contemporary (though never 'fusion,' and, thankfully, doesn't toy with other Latino cuisines). The appetizers here, too, are more interesting; you might want to construct a meal out of appetizers, or get a lot of appetizers and share an entree.