Rosa Mexicano is a Mexican restaurant in Penn Quarter serving authentic Mexican cuisine. This chain has restaurants in Atlanta, Hackensack, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, and New York. Despite the mixed feedback I've heard from others, Zach and I decided to go because (1) it is close to the theater we were going to and (2) it has been in DC for a long time and I felt it was time to finally try it out.
We had reservations for 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Little did we realize how popular this place was -- it was packed to the brim with people! I'm just glad we had reservations. We were seated in the main dining area, which was pretty large. With the large dining area, close seating to others, and loud atmosphere, it had the feel of a Chi-Chi's. That is not a good thing.
The decor was kind of cool with the Mexican animal masks on the wall.
We took a look at the menu and started with some drinks. I ordered the El Mezcalito. The Tanteo jalapeno-infused silver tequila was spicy, but when mixed with fresh strawberries, Del Maguey-Vida mezcal, fresh lemon, and organic agave, it was sweet at the same time.
This restaurant is known to have great guacamole and as far as I know, it is the most expensive guac in DC. As this would likely be our last time here, we had to try it. The guacamole cart was rolled over and the little guac guy made it fresh next to our table by mixing avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and salt.
The guacamole is also served with tortilla chips and two sauces. I really liked the guacamole and both sauces -- one was a tomatillo habanero sauce that was super spicy and the other was a pasilla pepper sauce that was smoky.
The service was incredibly slow. By the time we had finished our guacamole, the server hadn't even taken our order. By the time he came around, we were ready for round two of drinks. I ordered a La Mandarina, which had fresh tangerine and basil, El Jimador silver tequila, fresh lemon, and agave. Delish! When we finally placed our order, the server was very helpful in helping me understand the vegan options, of which there were few. They included vegetable enchiladas and vegetarian tacos. That makes it easy, I guess.
When our food finally arrived, we were suprised at how large the portions were given that most people order the guacamole too. I ordered the vegetable enchiladas, which came with black beans and rice. Unfortunately, it also came with cheese, which I had, obviously, asked them to omit. They quickly brought me a new one. Zach ordered the tacos that also came with black beans and rice.
The enchiladas were filled with spinach and just a few mushrooms and served with a tomato sauce. The sauce tasted very fresh, but there was nothing special about. The same goes for the enchiladas. They needed more spice -- the flavor was lacking.
Zach felt the same way about his tacos.
The beans were pretty good though and the rice was great. What made the rice so different was that it was cooked with cilantro, scallions, and mustard -- a nice twist!
It was a while after we finished eating before the server brought us our check and actually took our payment, which was particularly annoying because we were headed to the theater. The meal with two drinks each plus tip was $115 -- the priciest Chi-Chi's meal I've ever had. Of particular note is that the guacamole is $14 and the enchiladas are $16. The service was slow, the food mediocre, and the prices outrageous. Of the other two upscale Mexican places I like in DC, both Oyamel and El Centro have better food, better service, and a nicer atmosphere. I really have no idea how Rosa Mexicano stays so busy in a city with such great restaurants. Next time I get a hankering for Mexican food, I'm heading to Oyamel instead.
575 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004