At the height of the holiday season, we find ourselves grateful to you Brunch with Bearees, for reading and eating along with us in the big, big city. We also find ourselves occasionally homesick, and missing the tiny town from whence we came. When we think of home, we think of palm trees, traffic, and most of all, tacos! So this weekend, we’re taking you with us to experience possibly the fanciest tacos we’ve ever had, and hopefully, in doing so, get a little closer to home.
At home in Southern California, I eat tacos roughly once a week. In New York, it’s just not as easy to celebrate #TacoTuesday (and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday). The Brunch with Bear team has gotten to eat some truly wonderful food, but tacos are sadly still not a regular occurrence. So when we scheduled a family dinner, I jumped at the chance to eat tacos—really expensive, fancy tacos at Rosa Mexicano.
I first went to Rosa Mexicano with my family for a birthday dinner, way back in sophomore year when this whole allergy thing was still breaking. There are multiple New York locations, including one in Union Square. Union Square is very popular, and I imagine the other locations would be as well, so definitely call ahead to make reservations and make sure to get there early if you can’t make reservations. We went at a particularly crowded Friday night and it was difficult to get a table.
The Union Square location is the one we are blogging about today, and is located on 18th Street between 5th Avenue and Broadway. The closest subway stops are the 18th Street stop on the 1 train, the 14th Street stop on the 1, 2, 3, F, M, N, Q, and R trains, or the 23rd Street stop on the 6, N, or R trains. Being right in Union Square, it’s situated just perfectly for a shopping trip at Strand Bookstore and dessert at Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Company!
The hostess that seated us was not our favorite person (re: made us wait forever and did not give us very thorough info) but the waiters themselves were all charm and competence. Our waiter seemed to understand the allergy situation immediately and was comfortable taking care of the details, even for a very large party. Although at home my usual is a pile of carne asada, I opted for the carnitas this time, just to try something new.
Rosa Mexicano has a vibe that’s part upscale-business-formal and part exotic-vacation-with-cliff-divers, so while the menu is pretty authentic and partially en Español, the presentation of the food is very American gourmet. The pork itself was perfectly tender and shredded to a good size, and it was fun to try the trio of salsas that came with my meal. I found the idea of pineapple in tacos a little weird, but I know grilled fruit is a fancy thing nowadays, so I just kept it on the side. We also ordered sides of rice and beans for the table, and while the rice was pretty mediocre, the beans were excellent. The black beans were very salty and refried in a way that was hearty rather than greasy. The rice was simply white rice with some spices, rather than Spanish rice, which I found to be disappointing.
As I said before, Rosa Mexicano is terribly overpriced, especially since in my hometown you can get a plate of tacos for less than six dollars. However, it is a beautiful cavernous restaurant that definitely turns tacos into an elegant event in a way that a Styrofoam container and a can of Coke just can’t do. The clientele seemed to be mostly families, a few dinner dates, and a few business dates. If you have a special occasion, or a lot of cash to blow on tacos, Rosa Mexicano is a great family-friendly and allergy-friendly place to spend some time catching up and laughing together!
I get homesick a lot in New York, and as the holidays approach, it’s easy to miss my hometown and my sunshine. A big part of that homesickness is missing familiar food and familiar faces and on the rare and exciting occasion that the two come together, it’s delicious!