Rosa Mexicano NJ

By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Rosa Mexicano is a high-end Mexican food chain restaurant with locations throughout the US, Dubai, Puerto Rico, and Panama. This review focuses specifically on the Hackensack, New Jersey location on Hackensack Ave.

The food
Rosa Mexicano offers several menus: brunch, lunch, dinner, gluten free lunch, gluten free dinner, dessert, and a kids menu (or Young Amigos). I’ve dined at Rosa Mexicano several times, but only for dinner.

I’ve enjoyed my meals at the restaurant, but during my most recent visit I felt a bit underwhelmed. After a long debate over what I wanted to eat (the menu is big enough and generally pretty interesting, but I try to shy away from entrees with a heavy focus on cilantro), I settled on the chicken enchiladas: roasted chicken tinga topped with a creamy tomatillo sauce, cilantro, onion, and melted Chihuahua cheese.

The cilantro wasn’t overbearing as it is used simply for garnish in this dish, so I figured I would give it a shot. I was sold specifically on the tomatillo sauce, but I felt the dish overall was still a bit bland. The people I dined with ordered the same dish and we all agreed it needed just one more ingredient. Garlic maybe?

It was fine, but not nearly as good as other dishes I’ve had at Rosa Mexicano. With a hankering for enchiladas, I should have gone for the crab: lump crab escabeche layered zerape-style with crispy corn tortillas and topped with a creamy, tangy tomatillo sauce. Next time.

The drinks
With well over 50 different kinds of tequila to choose from, Rosa Mexicano certainly knows its way around the margarita. I knew this from my past experiences at the restaurant, so I went for the frozen lime margarita. Typically, frozen margaritas tend to be on the sweeter, less potent side, but Rosa Mexicano’s frozen margarita packs as strong a punch as those on the rocks. Perhaps, it packs an even stronger punch.

The restaurant also offers a wide variety of other margaritas, including the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. The chile mango margarita contains blanco tequila, mango, lime, and organic agave with a chile de arbol and guajillo chile salted rim. Frankly, as good as Rosa Mexicano’s traditional margaritas are, the place could survive alone on serving the chile mango.

Alas, if margaritas and tequila are not for you, Rosa Mexicano also has wines by the glass and bottle, beer, micheladas, sangrias, and cocktails on offer.

The service/ambience
The restaurant is a big one, even for the suburbs. The bar area is fairly large and is attached to a well-decorated open seating area with both a low loft-style area and a ground level area. The restaurant also offers outdoor seating, but dining adjacent a parking lot isn’t exactly ideal ambience.

The wait staff is courteous, knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive. Really, even at its worst, Rosa Mexicano offers a pretty enjoyable dining experience. I still intend to return, just not for the chicken enchiladas.