Rosa Mexicano leaves a lot to be desired

Mexican fare disappointing even on the good china

You can't really make a meal out of sides, but having tasted the fried plantains—almost candied, with a great texture, just soft enough—you might try to. And the short-grained brown rice that comes with every main is buttery, very faintly tangy with mustard, and pleasantly chewy. The refried beans are rich and creamy, just like they are supposed to be. And the corn tortillas are clearly made fresh in the kitchen, from good masa.

Then, on the dessert menu, out of nowhere comes Rosa Mexicano's secret weapon, a dish that must have been designed to make you forget all that came before. The Flan de Rosa is over-the-top in a way that suits the pink decor, with a thin layer of rich brownie on the bottom and an espresso flavor infused all the way through. It felt almost dirty, like hush money pressed into your palm after you witnessed some unseemly behavior, but so good you're tempted to accept.

The other desserts don't reach these heights, but none are really bad. Skip the chocolate flautas; they might as well have come frozen out of a box. The tres leches cake, robed in chilled fruit, doesn't have that smooth texture and fine crumb I associate with the classic dessert. The churros are delightfully cinnamony, but almost raw in the center. You will be willing to overlook this, however, once you taste the goat's milk caramel dipping sauce. This should come with a spoon.

E. Katie Holm
E. Katie Holm

Location Info

Map

Rosa Mexicano

609 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)

Details

Rosa Mexicano
609 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
612.656.7144; rosamexicano.com
appetizers $7.75-$14; entrées $18.75-$28.50

It should be said that all of this, even those sad pork belly tacos, is served in a beautiful space. Rosa Mexicano seats over 300 people, but the individual dining rooms are laid out in a way that makes each of them feel intimate and small. Wide aisles, generous booths, individual lighting, and some great sound design make each table feel separate and private. Big round booths accommodate parties of eight or ten in a way that few restaurants in downtown Minneapolis can. The pink interior steers just shy of bad '80s mauve. And a mesmerizing water fixture in the center of the room takes up real estate that could have been used to cram in more tables.

These details, like flattery, go a long way. I can imagine a large celebratory group, all craving margaritas and guacamole and steak, who will be very glad to take up a big, round booth for the evening. But flattery isn't enough. We deserve better than gloppy cheese and flavorless chicken, and we know it.

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