Being a Southern California native, I just happen to LOVE Mexican food. Guacamole and rice and beans oh my! However, when I found out I was allergic to corn of all things, I started to see many of my Mexican food-filled dreams fly out the window. No more salty tortilla chips with guac. No more fresh tamales. No more mini taquitos and tostadas. The horror! Since Mexican food is a very heavily corn-based, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to eat at many Mexican restaurants anymore. But then I remembered, there’s Taco Rosa.
Taco Rosa is a lovely Mexican Cantina that was created from Taco Mesa founders Ivan and Marco Calderon. While Taco Mesa serves fast and fresh Mexican dishes, Taco Rosa can be viewed as Taco Mesa’s more refined big sister. I have mad mad love for both establishments, but right now this post is dedicated to Taco Rosa (which doesn’t mean that Taco Mesa won’t make an appearance in the near future).
Taco Rosa’s cuisine is something you could imagine yourself eating if you were actually in Mexico City. The restaurant offers many classic Mexican dishes, with a slight French or Spanish influence. If you are looking for more “Americanized” Mexican food, let me tell you, Taco Rosa is NOT that. If you are in the mood for classic, Mexican flavors with a bit of a twist, this is your place. Plus, they have happy hour weekdays from 3-6 so you can enjoy all of their delicious beverages for half the price. But more on the beverages later.
The menu has all of the standards – Quesadillas, Fajitas, Enchiladas, Tostadas, etc. They are also more than willing to accomodate any dietary needs. Everytime I go in there I ask for flour tortillas instead of corn for all of my dishes and they are more than happy to oblige. Oh, and they make the tortillas on site so you KNOW they are good.
When you first sit down, you are presented with some carrots, onions and vinegar (aka escabeche), a couple flautas, and some guacamole. It’s the perfect way to tease your palate of the yummy goodness that is to come. Now Taco Rosa is well known for their homemade margaritas with agave nectar and sea salt, but I also have a love for their house sangria with fresh fruit. The drinks are big and strong so you definitely get your money’s worth.
|Decadant Sangria and a Blended Margarita|
On the food front, their Chicken Quesadilla, Carne Asada Burrito, and Calamari Tostada are all fantastic choices. But of course, I have got to call out their Chicken and Shrimp Fajitas that are always just SIZZLING with flavor when presented.
|Just look at that sizzle!|
One of Taco Rosa’s most popular dishes is the Enchiladas Mexico City which is made with pulled chicken in a tomatillo sauce and smothered in cheese. Corn tortillas are traditionally used for this dish, and sometimes it’s best not to mess with tradition, so my review is strictly based on word of mouth.
If you want something yum and meaty, try the Carnitas Pibil which is made in a wrapped banana leaf, or the Alambre Tacos with bacon and peppers.
Just make sure you leave room for dessert. Oh, the dessert. Sopapillas happen to be one of my favorite Mexican desserts, and many restaurants do not serve them. For those who do not know, a sopapilla is a Mexican quick bread that is made with flour, shortening, oil, and baking powder, to creat a small pillow-like shape. The sopapillas are then dipped in a fryer and usually served warm with ice cream. Taco Rosa however, takes sopapillas to the next level. Once the sopapillas are fried, they are served piping hot over vanilla bean ice cream with fresh strawberries, and honey and chocolate sauce for dipping. Words cannot describe.
Now that you are officially full of Mexican food goodness, you can roll yourself out of the restaurant and take a nice long siesta while your belly digests all that delicious food. Taco Rosa only uses the finest and freshest ingredients, so you don’t leave with that greasy Mexican food feeling.
There are two Taco Rosa locations in Orange County – one in Newport Beach and one in Tustin. Both are fine establishments, but if you are looking for something a little quieter and more intimate, the Newport location is definitely for you. Regardless of which Taco Rosa establishment you dine at, you MUST order the sopapillas. Just trust me on this one.
13792 Jamboree Rd., 92670
fax (714) 505-6133
2632 San Miguel Rd., 92660
fax (949) 720-0982