This Mexican delight is owned and coddled by Josefina Howard, a restaurateur and pioneer in Mexican cuisine, who is solely responsible for introducing the Eastside set to Puebla’s way of cooking. The interior design and the ambiance of the Rosa Mexicano on 58th Street is both warm and festive, the walls are painted a similar hue as the pomegranate margaritas that they became famous for serving, the staff is always sweet and courteous and the lines out the door and the three deep waiting at the bar are still a good indication to the newest of newcomers that this place is buzzing. No reservations? Ouch, that could hurt, on the weekends especially.
The extensive and seasonal menu is very upscale, slightly trendy and extremely healthy, with many vegetarian and vegan options available. Main courses include the usual suspects, roasted beef enchiladas, smoky fish tacos, grilled filet mignon atop stir fry mixed vegetables, pan seared mahi mahi served over a red bean chili coulis and a simple and nice pollo dish (garlic and lemon chicken skewers that are garnished with Serrano peppers and served over mild, soft yellow house made rice.) Spoiler alert – just do not even think of chowing down on one of said Serrano peppers (as the waiter will certainly or rather scoldingly recommend), or you may end up (like this foolish chili pepper on a few “I can handle it” moments) feverishly chugging an entire pitcher or three of water to put out the swirling dervish of a fire burning in my throat. And that was just the one – they load that plate with four or five of those hotties, so beware – humans are not meant to eat them without a water extinguisher within reach. There are also many great side dishes – vegetarian spicy tomato chili, fried plaintains with creme fraiche and Mexican street corn with sweet cheese – many (actually a lot) of their dishes are also smothered in their now famous, creamy molé sauce (prepared with hot chilis and chocolate and an unusual and non divulged ingredient at Rosa Mexicano that sets their molé far apart from the sort at the other Spanish speaking crowded restaurants on 1st Avenue.) Desserts are not not usually a part of this authors menu selection, but I have heard that they too are ‘muy bueno.’
But the “Dinner Guacamole En Molcajete” are the greens that you come for (otherwise toted as plain old guacamole, gringos, only this dish is anything but) prepared tableside in a molcajete – a round shaped vessel (a mortar and pestal, if you will) supported by three short legs that are frequently decorated with a head carving of an animal on the edge of the bowl – their version looks like a three legged pig (and that’s before the tequila arrives.) Their special and very fresh guac seems warmer, smoother, saltier and tastier than the average avocado spread tasted elsewhere. And as long as (the better than average, actually hands down most delicious pomegranate margaritas south of the border, or the 59th Street bridge, in this case) keep coming, that three legged animal may begin to look like the the piggy back ride that you may need to get home. The pomegranate margaritas are that memorable, and very potent – suggested drink is ordered frozen and salted, and for the lightweights, should be kept to a minimum. The transportation part of the evening should be in a taxi. The way that you feel after a few pomegranates may make you winge a little, but when accompanied by the swell guac, in the silly bowl with the house made tortilla chips and ramekins of “take that” pow, heated chilis, the loopy ride home, may prove less memorable than the drinks, but will certainly be worth the trip. A Mexican Rose by any other name would taste as sweet.
1063 1ST AVENUE AT 58TH ST
NEW YORK, NY 10022