Rosa Mexicano: Now open in downtown Minneapolis
Upscale Mexican chain Rosa Mexicano opened its first Midwestern location this week in downtown Minneapolis, filling the onetime T.G.I. Fridays with pink-accented elegance and transforming a long-dormant corner of City Center.
The Hot Dish stopped by to sample the food and a couple of drinks at the expense of the restaurant. We were curious to see how something big and corporate fit in on the block so near to the recent exodus of the likes of the Hard Rock Cafe, Hooters, et al. We were pleased to find a sleek interior, good food, great drink options, and a multi-use space. A private, large room is fully hooked up with all the necessary multimedia accoutrements that makes for an administrative professional's dream locale. A hopping bar with complimentary lighting features a list of cocktails that are neither overly sweet or too precious. The expansive restaurant space somehow managed to feel cozy, with large booths waiting for large, lively groups of friends and a huge patio already set up with heaters.
What did we try?
The bar is mixing up some pleasant cocktails. While La Antiqua sounded like dessert, featuring cocoa-infused silver tequila, it was actually much closer to a traditional Manhattan. Smoky wisps of bitter cocoa mixed with the tart orange, and the depth of the bitters smoothed off the finish. La Sandia features muddled watermelon and rosemary simple syrup. While a bit sweet, the silver tequila that spikes it shone through. These are not kiddie shots. Even the red sangria, a traditional fruit mix topped with a bit of brandy and red wine, retains a tart, refreshing flavor, enough to remind a tired tongue why this drink caught on in the first place.
The entire restaurant is stationed with carts full of ingredients at the ready to mix the signature guacamole. It's a precise mixture and nothing to be mucked around with; these guys are serious. There will be no mashing of the avocado and never will the fruit be added to the bowl until the chiles and onions have already been tossed, and don't even think about mashing down those ripe tomatoes. The entire process results in...guacamole. Guacamole made with perfectly silky, ripe avocados, but it's hardly a flavor revolution. At least the portion is a healthy amount served alongside freshly fried, warm tortilla chips and just-made corn tortillas. When touring the space we got to meet the ladies in the back, squishing out the sweet masa food cradles.
Additionally we tasted the queso fundido topped with chorizo: gooey, spicy and fun to eat. The hamachi sashimi is served in a round mold and studded with tiny round balls of watermelon. Refreshing, light, and beautifully seasoned, it's a delicate, lovely dish that we enjoyed even more by imagining someone in the kitchen with an itty-bitty melon baller, prepping this thing.
The danger is that Rosa Mexicano will need to be all things to all people, a corporate meeting place, happy-hour hip spot, and elegant dinner before theater destination. Astoundingly, they seem to be on the right track.
Rosa Mexicano 701 Hennepin Ave. (at Sixth), Minneapolis 612.656.7144; Rosa Mexicano website
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