Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Aug 31, 2007 08:02 PM

Rosa Mexicano Report- Miami

I was literally transported by the guacamole. Their guac, for those of you who don't know, is made tableside in a huge mortar and pestle. The guac is very fresh, chunky and divine. It is made spicy or mild according to your specifications and contains bits of tomato and onion. As for the rest of the meal, I can't say I was overwhelmed. The salmon in mole was very good but the tuna salad and beef enchilada from my companion's plates left me underwhelmed. We sampled the cheesecake (never a fave of mine but the winner of the bunch), an oozing chocolate dessert and a tres leche encased in a meringue.

I would definitely come back for guac and margaritas.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What's the story/history of Rosa's? Anyone know?

    1 Reply
    1. re: netmover

      I first ate at Rosa Mexicano in the late '80s. They had one location on the east side in NYC (1st Ave in the 50's I think) and we ate there somewhat regularly until we moved to FL 10 years later. At that time it was a new concept, the presentation of authentic Mexican cuisine not simply made up of tacos and burritos. The location was bright and pretty and the guacamole made tableside was a signature dish. Sounds like they still have that going for them in a big way. Josefina Howard, who I believe was a chef-owner (co-owner?) was locally famous at a time BEFORE food tv and the massive celebrity chef thing today, and I remember profiles in the Times and local TV with her as a leader in "authentic" Mexican food. Obviously Rosa Mexicano has branched out massively of late with numerous locations, which IMHO usually goes with a decline in quality, oversite, authenticity etc. That said, I have not eaten in any of the outposts such as the Florida one. (I think Eduardo de San Angel locally, would be my top choice for upscale Mexican food.)

    2. good to hear they are open. Net, they are a NYC restaurant. First one on 58th and 1st or 2nd ave and the second one on w62nd st & columbus. Known for the guac but not the best high end mexican in the world. Still quite a bit better than what we have here for high end mex so it is welcome.

      12 Replies
      1. re: tpigeon

        Thanks for the history lessons.

        I am having a problem with "upscale" and "high end" mex neither of which seem appropriate adjectives for this chow. It's just not a term I am comfortable with when discussing the genre, although there is a place I've been to in Broward called Canyon that does an "upscale" version, would Rosa's or Eduardo's be at all comparable in that sense?

        1. re: netmover

          Conceivably my memory is fading re. Rosa Mexicano as I haven't eaten there in years, but I agree with you that "upscale Mexican" seems like an oxymoron. Nevertheless I think Eduardo's comes closest. I like Eduardo's better than Canyon, mainly because Canyon has more singles-bar elements, but also because I think Eduardo's has more creative ingredients. I think the original idea was the introduction to the American tastebuds that there's more to Mexican food than tacos and beans, and Eduardo's ventures into more interesting areas new to me, such as Mexican artisanal cheeses, nopales, cuitlacoche or regional distintions such as Oaxacan and Yucatecan dishes.

          1. re: kate7047


            Is the set up at Rosa Mexicano such that AB & I could go and hang out and drink and try the guac and some drinks? Is there a bar area or just a dining room? Always up for a tapas crawl and drinks...

            On a related note, has anyone tried Poblando "fine Mexican" on Sunset?


            1. re: advisor_Girl

              Lots of folks were having drinks at the bar but I saw no signs of food. I would think you could sample some food in the front area along with some margs. Might want to call them first to make sure.

              1. re: chocolada

                Went last night and just hung out at the bar. Tried their signature pomegranate margarita on the premise that if I'm going to have a margarita, I'm at least going to have one with antioxidants. It came from a slushy machine a la Fat Tuesdays and I was a little disappointed. Had chips and salsa at the bar. The bartender brought us was seemed to be one tomatillo and one chipotle based salsa. She said "I know you're probably thinking of a salsa that's called pico de gallo but I brought you these because they're better." I gave no response, just the look of "lady, you don't know who you're dealing with." Regardless, the place was packed. Agree with Choco that no one at the bar had anything substantial to eat. The only thing on the bar menu besides margaritas was the guacamole (but it's not made bar side). The have a cool outdoor area for when it gets, well , cooler.

                Poblano's is still on my radar but just haven't made the trek. Let's race to see who gets there first.

                1. re: lax2mia


                  Great minds drink alike! We talked about hitting the bar @ Rosa last night but saw King of Kong instead

                  If we can go drink, sample custom guac and learn more about that intoxicating new sal-sah... well, perhaps we will try later on this weekend.

                  BTW- I would have paid my entire 2008 burrito budget to see your face when the bartender 'splained the salsa to you!

                  Like you, I would rather go and suss out the restaurant via the bar than get stuck at a full table of not-ready-for-primetime entrees at a hyped & pricey chain. But slushy drinks and lukewarm reviews are not luring me to BrickelLimbo on a holiday weekend...

                  Standing by for more enthusiastic reports.


              2. re: advisor_Girl

                I walked by Poblano last night and looked at the menu but it didnt really appeal to me so I walked on. There is a new restaurant on Sunset that just opened on September 6th that I took a flyer for. The name is escaping me at the moment, but I remember it being described as "exquisite comfort food". The restaurant looked really clean, probably bcuz no one was in it, and the pics of food on the flyer looked very tasty. I think the flyer gets me a free glass of wine too, so thats cool. I wouldve dined there, but I was solo and it wouldve made me feel too losery to be eating in an empty restaurant by myself LOL. So, I headed to Bacchus Wine Bar for some wine and apps which I will write about in a new thread, probably like I shouldve done with the rest of this drivel...

              3. re: kate7047

                Have to whole-heartedly disagree that "upscale Mexican" is an oxymoron. Years ago - many years ago, I'm dating myself here - there was a wonderful place at what I am pretty sure is currently the Miss Saigon location on Giralda in the Gables called Las Puertas. They did wonderful Mexican food that was in some instances traditional, sometimes more contemporary, but always elegant. They did a whole menu inspired by the movie "Like Water for Chocolate" including an absolutely fantastic Chiles en Nogado. I still mourn the passing of the restaurant and their great duck fajitas.

                Rick Bayless has been doing fantastic upscale Mexican in Chicago at his restaurants - particularly Topolobampo, a higher-end cousin to Frontera Grill - for years.

                It may not accurately describe Rosa Mexicano (and for a place that's serving margaritas out of a slushie machine I doubt it does), but that certainly doesn't mean upscale Mexican doesn't exist.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  'Upscale Mexican' is as much an oxymoron as upscale French, Italian, Chinese (various), Greek, etc.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Though the cuisine contains complexity, it's just not one that conjures up the idea of "upscale" or "highend". Not that it doesn't exist or hasn't been tried, you probably remember MAYA's short run on sobe, no Fro? It's best rendition in the MIA would have to be Jaguar. Though it's not a "Mexican" restaurant perse, it is owned by Mexicans and does have that (here I go contrradicting myself again) upscale feel and taste for a quasi Mexican joint. So yes, you ARE right, upscale mexy is out there, it's just few and far between down here in the MIA.

                    1. re: netmover

                      I do remember (and miss) Maya though it was nowhere near as good as La Puertas was. Don't think Jaguar quite makes the cut (though I like it for what it is). The menu is way too much of a hodge-podge of different latin influences and the Mexican portion of it is basically just various tacos.

                      From just looking at the menu online Eduardo de San Angel actually looks fairly upscale to me - though I've never been up that way to try it.

                      1. re: netmover

                        Agree with Frod and MD. And net, it's not one that conjures up an idea of upscale because the media and our culture has told you otherwise. Think about it, do you think the French scoff at the idea of upscale American?

              4. Poblano in South Miami is great. Truely authentic. The Stuffed pepper is excellent. Great food, great service and awsome cucmber lemonade. You have to try it!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: danielphotoland

                  I should add that I tried the frozen pomegranite margarita as well and was disappointed. It was thick.... and pink....and slushy... and I shoulda known better.

                2. I loved eating at Rosa's Mexicano on the Upper East Side in the late 80's. It was always delicious, and I'm afraid to eat at the new MIA location for fear of being majorly disappointed.

                  I, too, don't understand the oxymoron comment. Yes, there is lots of rustic and homestyle and taco truck and Tex-Mex (and more) food, but just as with any other cuisine, there are many different styles. And in a country as large as Mexico, you can bet there are lots of them! Don't you think there are upscale restaurants in Mexico City, for instance, where they serve elegant regional cooking in a lovely setting?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: diablita FL

                    I would put Rosa Mexicano somewhere in the midscale Mexican category, having eaten numerous times at both of their New York locations. The food is just not refined or creative enough to be considered upscale cuisine. I would agree with Frodnesor that Topolobampo is an extremely successful rendition of upscale Mexican cuisine and I eat there every time I am in Chicago. New York has a number of spots that are actually better than Rosa Mexicano (Itzocan, Maya, Pampano) but none of them are actually as good as Topolobampo.

                    My problem with Rosa has always been that the marginal improvement in quality over basic Mexican food was not worth the price premium. They basically charge the same prices as the better Mexican restaurants in New York and far more than casual Mexican restaurants when one is in the mood for a more casual meal. I am not up to date on the other Mexican offerings in Miami but I doubt Rosa Mexicano will offer a substantial improvement and is more likely to be a disappointment, especially for the price conscious.

                    And yes the guacamole is one of the better items on the menu.

                    1. re: petroniusarbiter

                      haven't been up no. university via 595, in years.... i recall some "gourmet" mexican restaurant cantina open. can't remember the name... gourmet cantina? has anyone tried it?
                      over by the broward mall?
                      i'm sooooooo in the mood for good mexican.

                      1. re: Shirley U. Jest

                        That would be Cantina Laredo. We've tried it for dinner and it was not terribly memorable, but not bad for a "gourmet" chain. Nice atmosphere, not exactly expensive (entrees in the $10-$25 range,) but the extra money is more for the location and atmosphere than the food, IMHO.

                        I believe I ordered a spinach and veggie enchilada, and there were some shrimp flautas going around. Our friends liked the tableside guac-making, but I've always thought it was a bit silly - "ooh, what artful mashing skills you have!"

                        Overall, worth a try and better than some of the other chains, but not my cup of meat.

                    2. re: diablita FL

                      I definitely agree. You can "upscale" or "downscale" any cuisine. Think carribean...Puerto RIcan, Cuban, Haitian...not usually considered gourmet, but it can be done and it can be done beautifully....

                      Duck fajitas???? yummmm. Sorry I missed that.

                    3. Rosa opened for lunch today and since it's conveniently located across the street from my office and I'm tired of Perricone's, I went with a couple of co-workers. Disclaimer: I've never been to any other Rosa so I have no point of comparison with the other locations. If nothing else, I will give them this: the restaurant is nice and the presentation of their dishes is too.

                      The guacamole is definitely great. Not cheap at $10 but it's prepared tableside and served chunky, just how I like it.

                      I ordered the cochinito de pibil tacos. I liked the pork, especially with the lime marinated onions that topped it. One coworker ordered the cabrito tacos and another the enchiladas suizas. I'm no expert in Mexican food so I won't make this post about the foods' degree of authenthicity, but based on just this visit, I liked it.

                      I do, however, agree with petroniusarbiter in that it didn't seem overly creative for the price, especially if you're thinking upscale and all. Perhaps you're also paying for the experience. Regardless, I have a feeling they'll do well -- at least for lunch. We arrived at noon and were seated immediately but by the time we left there were about 10 people waiting for a table. Today, on their first day of lunch service, things ran smoothly for us and the service was good. Let's just hope they don't deteriorate with time as so many restaurants do.