The original Rosa Mexicano opened on the Upper East Side in 1984 and retains an intimate, cozy charm—unlike the noisier newcomer at Union Square. Here, in a small, simply decorated bar area and L-shaped dining room of traditional salmon-colored stucco walls with black tiles and paper cutouts fluttering overhead, diners enjoy conversation along with some serious eats prepared by Chef Ignacio Cotzomi.
As in all the Rosa Mexicano restaurants (there is another in Lincoln Center and others in many cities), guacamole is prepared tableside, as mild or spicy as you like. This demonstration makes you want to eat more of it than you might otherwise. A starter of Garlic and Lime Smoked Ribs may change your mind forever about what you think ribs should taste like. These are tossed in a delicious and sticky piloncillo-chipotle glaze that will have you licking your fingers. The accompanying salad of jicama, mango, and cucumber will help cool down your palate. On a winter day, have some Tortilla Soup, a Mexican chicken soup to warm the soul, with pasilla chile, grilled chicken, avocado, shredded cheese, crema, and strips of crispy tortilla.
The Jumbo Lump Crab Enchiladas entrée comes with a fabulous creamy tomatillo sauce and it goes down easy like comfort food. You don’t realize how much heat it packs until your eyes begin to tear. Mucho delicioso! There are many classics to choose from, such as the Steamed Lamb Shank coated with three chiles, garlic and spices wrapped in parchment paper and steamed until fork tender. Dinner 5 to 10:30 pm weekdays; 4 to 11:30pm Saturday; to 10:30pm Sunday. -- Marian Betancourt