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Monday, December 26, 2005

Taco Rosa - Review #1

2632 San Miguel Road
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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Official Site

Appetizer: Mini Tostada
Entree: Chile Relleno Salad
Drink: Mixed Fruit aguas fresca
Dessert: Cheesecake Flan

I decided to stop here for a quick lunch on this day-after-Christmas day but when I arrived the whole atmosphere seemed rather languorous so I adjusted my pace to the current pace of the restaurant. I can't blame them for seeming a little slow on a day when many people are not working so I took advantage of any downtime by reading the book I had brought in with me.

Taco Rosa is one of my favorite Mexican places. I guess it is "fast casual" but, if so, it is on the higher end of the fast casual spectrum. Instead of bringing the usual chips and salsa to your table as an appetizer they bring each person in the party a specially handcrafted item such as a tostadito, taquito, or gordita. I believe they have one cook who does nothing other than make appetizers and desserts. Today though I didn't get an appetizer when I arrived. I didn't complain because, after all, it is free and who am I to demand free food?

I started out by ordering an aguas fresca to drink. Every day they prepare two different flavors of these fresh fruit juices and today they had pineapple and mixed fruit. I chose the mixed fruit and it turned out to be a refreshing concoction with watermelon figuring heavy in the mix.

The mere fact alone that they offer aguas frescas is a big plus in my book. I don't drink alcohol and sometimes water alone is fine but sometimes I like to have a drink with some flavor to it. Sodas fit the bill quite often but I find that the carbonation in soda mixed with the spiciness of Mexican food can be a little too much of a double whammy, so their aguas frescas are perfect. Other flavors I've had on my visits so far have been watermelon (all by itself), cantalope, mango, honeydew (excellent!), raspberry, tamarind, jamaica, and maybe one or two others. A waitress there once told me their grape aguas fresca is particularly good but I haven't been fortunate enough to be there yet on a day when it was being offered.

They seemed to have a new menu today, one that's slightly more colorful than their prior version and now contains pictures of a few of the items. I kept looking for the postres (desserts) section on the menu but couldn't find it so I was left wondering if they stopped giving free appetizers AND stopped offering dessert items.

For an entree I ordered a chile relleno salad from their relatively new lunch menu. I wondered just what a chile relleno salad might be like and it turns out that it is, simply enough, a chile relleno (a very good one, mind you) on a bed of lettuce greens. I only have a very cursory knowledge of the Atkins diet but I imagine this menu item would be rather Atkins-friendly. When I was done my waiter asked me if I would like any dessert but I still wasn't filled up lunchwise yet so I asked if they still gave out the free appetizers. He then realized that I had never received an appetizer so he came back a minute or two later with a made-to-order mini tostada with some escabeche (spicy pickled onions and carrots) on the side and that filled me up just right.

Then the subject of dessert came up again. He mentioned their chocolate-covered strawberry dish and their fried sopapilla dish. I have had all of their desserts at least once if not more and they are all very good but the two dishes mentioned are too big for one person (unless I'm particularly hungry . . . and they don't do half-size desserts any more like they used to) so I ordered the flan. I don't know if it was to apologize for forgetting the appetizer at the beginning of the meal but when the flan came it had been prepared in an especially fancy manner accompanied by two chocolate-covered strawberries. It was the perfect way to finish off the meal.

Overall the experience warrants a five Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Follow our Taco Rosa label below or CLICK HERE for our very extensive coverage (and dozens of photos) of both Taco Rosa locations. If you are only looking at "Taco Rosa - Review #1" you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

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