Thirty years ago, founder and chef Josefina Howard opened the doors to the first Rosa Mexicano location in New York City’s Midtown East changing the city’s perception of traditional, authentic Mexican cuisine. Today, there are 14 Rosa Mexicano restaurants around the world ranging from Los Angeles to Miami, Boston to Atlanta, and Puerto Rico to Dubai, just to name a few.
“Thirty years since Rosa Mexicano debuted, the demand for authentic and regional flavors of Mexican food in the US has exploded. We now have 14 restaurants, and we have stayed true to Josefina’s vision while expanding from the East Coast to the West Coast and abroad.” ~ CEO Tom Dillon
To celebrate their 3o-year anniversary, a few of the nation’s best chefs have come together in a collaborative effort to pay homage to Howard including Mario Hernandez (The Black Ant), Roberto Santibanez (Fonda), Richard Sandoval (Richard Sandoval Restaurant Group) and Sue Torres (Sueños) with a celebration party at the original first Rosa Mexicano location in NY where guests will have the chance to meet each of the chefs and sample a dish from each that best represents their vision of Mexico. Event will be held October 6 from 7-10pm. All money from ticket sales will be donated to the The Orphaned Starfish Foundation.
For those who are not in NY, Rosa Mexicano has crafted a rotating special 3-course Desde 1984 menu, with the first that debuted September 10 and will run through October 21. Each menu is an offering of favorite dishes that have been served in the restaurant within the last three decades. These special dishes are available a la carte, but we think the option of three dishes for $30 is your best bet. (Dessert prices are not included as part of the 3-course menu in NY locations.)
After sampling the debut Desde 1984 menu first hand, we (of course) have some suggestions on what we think you’ll enjoy the most:
The first two things any self respecting (or maybe not) person should order is the Guacamole en Molcajete (jalapeno, tomato, onion, and cilantro served with tortilla chips and salsa nortena) and the special Margarita Rosa (pomegranate and prickly pear-infused El Jimador blanco, pomegranate, lime and organic agave nectar. No the guacamole is not part of the special menu. Yes you need it. Made tableside, the guacamole is made with always fresh Hass avocados (we’d expect nothing less) and is customized to your spice preference. We loved the large chunks of avocado and refused to allow our waiter to take the bowl away until sure we were absolutely too stuffed to consume any more. The drink is a fruity pink take on your traditional margarita. Not particularly strong, and something that will compliment whatever you order.
When choosing what to order first as part of your special 3-course meal, there are three options. However, we think the Tamale con Huitlacoche en Cazuela (cornmeal topped with huitlacoche, salsa ranchera, served in traditional cazuela) or the Taquitos de Tinga Poblana (small, soft corn tortillas filled with sauteed shredded pork, smoked chile chipotle, onions, tomato, topped with pico de gallo) are the two options that will not disappoint. Basically we referred to the Tamale con Huitlacoche en Cazuela as “Mexican grits”. Who doesn’t love grits? (We’re just going to ignore anyone who says they don’t.) There’s also another reason why we suggest the guac, and it’s more than the sake of it being a great starter and well… guac. Save some and put it on your Taquitos de Tinga Poblana. It will take the dish from “good” to “I don’t want to stop eating this.”
Before even stepping foot into Rosa Mexicano we knew the Filete con Hongos (pan-seared filet mignon covered with a wild mushroom-tequila cream sauce) would be our favorite option out of the three available. Absolutely smothered in mushrooms and sauce, we couldn’t get enough. And priced at $28 on the a la carte menu, this makes for one of the best deals if you order it from the special menu. For all you non-mushroom lovers (this is seriously a travesty to us), the two other options include the Enchiladas de Mole Poblano (two tortillas filled with shredded chicken, topped with mole sauce, sliced onions and crumbled cheese) and the Crepas con Camarones (crepas filled with shrimp, covered with a chile pasilla sauce, sprinkled with cheese).
Saving room for dessert is an absolute must. This is coming from people who go to dinner just for the opportunity to have dessert. Both options on the Desde 1984 menu are worth taking home your entree leftovers just so you can enjoy the dessert in its entirety. It’d be such a shame to waste it just because you were full. The Crepas con Cajeta (traditional crepes folded and served with a rich caramel sauce, sliced strawberries & Mexican vanilla ice cream) and Tres Leches de Zarzamoras (sour cream pound cake soaked in three milks, topped with blackberry-hibiscus glaze and toasted meringue) are what’s up on the menu deck. You’d be wise for your dinner date to order one while you get the other so a sampling of both is possible.
It was apparent that the servers undergo some intense training, as each dish was explained in great detail. These guys know what they’re talking about, and have a love for what they serve. For those in the DC area one can find Rosa Mexicano in Penn Quarter – right across from the Gallery Place Metro, Chevy Chase, and at the National Harbor. Plus, it’s almost impossible to beat a 3-course menu for $30. Come celebrate with Rosa Mexicano and skip the Taco Bell tonight peeps!
Rosa Mexicano (Penn Quarter)
575 7th St.
NW Washington, DC 20004
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