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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Taco Rosa - Review #3


Taco Rosa
2632 San Miguel Road
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 720-0980

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Official Site

Okay, a reader named Joy posted a comment on my most recent review of Taco Rosa and her comments were so lengthy and in-depth I felt they could pass as their very own entry. I've been hoping for other people to submit reviews of restaurants and now we have the first such instance so you other readers don't feel shy. Hopefully we can have some good quality pictures to portray Taco Rosa with whenever there might be a fourth review.

From here on out it is Joy's words:

Hi Christian,

Love your blog! Mostly in response to your posts, I dragged my SO and friend to Taco Rosa last night (well, dragged isn't quite the word) and we LOVED it! They had canteloupe and honeydew aguas frescas, and I started with the canteloupe thinking I'd have honeydew for my next glass -- I didn't realize it was free refills, that's great! Okay, so I'll try the honeydew another time.

We got the complimentary appetizers and didn't think we'd get chips, so we ordered chips and guacamole. The guac was *great* - lots of avocado. But they brought chips and three salsas out beforehand. All three were pretty smooth rather than chunky, and one was a chile verde; do you know what the other two were?

We went overboard on ordering because I wanted to try everything. Between the three of us we got: chips and guacamole, chile relleno, flor de calabaza (zucchini quesadilla), a calamari taco, and two orders of carnitas pibil -- these each came with piles of escabeche, and some with more guac and sour cream. The corn tortillas were excellent: much thicker than usual, and steaming hot, very flavorful. I convinced the men to help me with a single order of sopapillas, although I had to do more than my share. All told, we paid $68 plus tip, and took home four full boxes of leftovers = four more servings/meals.

Loved the chile relleno (very eggy), flor de calabaza, calamari taco, escabeche, aguas frescas, and guac. The men found the carnitas not quite to their taste -- not dry, as is often the problem, but not as flavorful, with a somewhat pasty sauce. I tried it and thought it was okay but not great: maybe they were having an off night, or maybe other folks like it this way?

I didn't care for the sweet tamale that came with each entree, but my SO brought his home and warmed it up for lunch today. He still didn't like it, but I liked it just fine on the second try. Guess you have to know what you're getting (and eat it RIGHT away).

The sopapillas were far too large for one person -- it was almost too much for the three of us! Delicious.

Liked the setting a lot too, although we ended up on very hard seats, like picnic table benches. Great service, too.

We are *definitely* going back. Is there anything in particular you'd recommend we try next?

5 comments:

ChristianZ said...

"Love your blog! Mostly in response to your posts, I dragged my SO and friend to Taco Rosa last night (well, dragged isn't quite the word) and we LOVED it!"

Phew! Glad I didn't send somebody to a restaurant I recommended and have them regret it.

"They had canteloupe and honeydew aguas frescas, and I started with the canteloupe thinking I'd have honeydew for my next glass -- I didn't realize it was free refills, that's great! Okay, so I'll try the honeydew another time."

Here's a little secret: When you get a refill on your aguas fresca you can get the other flavor they have that day as your refill at no extra charge. I didn't find this out by asking but by them offering that one time. So I utilized this two visits ago when I started out with watermelon then got horchata as my refill. The honeydew drink they have there is quite good. Still waiting to try the grape.

"We got the complimentary appetizers and didn't think we'd get chips, so we ordered chips and guacamole. The guac was *great* - lots of avocado. But they brought chips and three salsas out beforehand. All three were pretty smooth rather than chunky, and one was a chile verde; do you know what the other two were?"

Couldn't say offhand but you can actually go to their salsa bar and get exactly what you need. They might have labels there identifying what kind of salsas they have that day. Can't remember for sure though since they are always so good about bringing you some and sometimes making the perfect recommendation about what to use with whatever item you ordered.

"We went overboard on ordering because I wanted to try everything. Between the three of us we got: chips and guacamole, chile relleno, flor de calabaza (zucchini quesadilla), a calamari taco, and two orders of carnitas pibil -- these each came with piles of escabeche, and some with more guac and sour cream. The corn tortillas were excellent: much thicker than usual, and steaming hot, very flavorful."

Good on you for trying the flor de calabaza. They used to make each serving of it with one red and one blue tortilla but lately they have only been using the white/yellow tortillas. Still good. I just wish they'd make them a tad crispier on the outside. Still good and recommended.

"I convinced the men to help me with a single order of sopapillas, although I had to do more than my share. The sopapillas were far too large for one person -- it was almost too much for the three of us! Delicious."

Good stuff. On my last visit (I've had at least two visits since the one reported on in my second review here) I bumped into some girls I haven't seen in a few years. They were there on a double date and sat at the table next to my party. When they were ready to order dessert I convinced them to order the sopapillas and they loved them.

"Liked the setting a lot too, although we ended up on very hard seats, like picnic table benches."

Yeah, they need to figure out how to improve their whole seating situation. At many of the tables it is hard to fit both your legs under.

"Great service, too."

It's always been good for me.

"We are *definitely* going back. Is there anything in particular you'd recommend we try next?"

Over the course of numerous visits I have learned how to get filled up without going overboard. I would maybe recommend sharing the platon de botanas (appetizer sampler platter) next time to get another good sampling of their food. That should fill you up (in addition to their complimentary appetizers) but, if not, you could also add a bowl of soup or an a la carte taco (all depends on the number of people in the party and how much each person can eat).

Joy said...

It's very good to know that I can get the second aguas frescas flavor as a free refill too. As much as I like horchata, this was much more refreshing -- the perfect accompaniment for the hot, spicy food.

I also noticed that the flor de calabaza was not very crisp, but it was tasty nonetheless.

christianz wrote:
"Over the course of numerous visits I have learned how to get filled up without going overboard."

But I *like* going overboard! :-) We usually plan to order enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day, that way we can have a greater variety. I like the fact that Taco Rosa gives you hard plastic take-away containers that are microwaveable, not those nasty styrofoam ones some places use.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks, Joy. My version of going overboard meant eating too much for one sitting. Let us know how your next visit goes.

joy said...

We brought more friends back to try Taco Rosa last night, and we all loved it. Early on, my friend said something in Spanish to the servers, and next thing we know we had bowls of all kinds of things for dipping and spreading and snacking -- various salsas, beans, guac, cheese, escabeche, chopped jalepenos and serranos, chipotle... the table was full, and our meals hadn't even arrived.

I had the mango aguas fresca, which was great (especially after eating the serrano chiles straight) but not as good as the melon was last time -- not as strong-tasting. The other flavor was jicama, which was even weaker. On my third glass (!) they must have made a new batch, because it was much sweeter and stronger.

The other couple had the seafood platter for two, which came with a great variety of delicious options. They let me taste test everything (what nice friends) and I especially liked something that was like a soft crepe with a creamy sauce and... well, I can't remember the filling, but it was great. The only thing we didn't like was the shrimp wrapped in tortillas and almost blackened; it had a red paste between the shrimp and the wrapping that was somewhat dry and didn't go well with the other flavors.

I had the alambre taco (delicious, but gone so quickly!), plus sharing the flor de calabaza again, and Mr. J had carne asada (also delicious). The sweet corn tamale was better this time than last time: lighter, not as dense.

But we somehow left room for dessert. The other couple had the flan, and we had the churros. I had to convince their daughter to eat half my churros because I was so full (okay, it wasn't hard to convince her). But what blew me away was the flan -- it was excellent! We all agreed it was the best flan we'd ever had.

The service was excellent, too.

This is becoming one of our favorite restaurants, and it looks like we won some more converts too.

ChristianZ said...

You wrote another review-length comment again. Sounds like everything went good. Mango is not really my favorite flavor (prefer papaya over it but mango seems to get all the attention) and I never knew they made aguas fresca out of jicama. Sounds odd. I really appreciate their flan now after the last place I got flan from was very good but with absolutely nothing garnishing it at all. Taco Rosa seems to make theirs a little different each time so you get surprised every time. I really need to take a bunch of pictures next time I go. I keep wondering if they'll let me stand in the kitchen and snap all the dishes they make right before they are taken to the customers. That seafood platter sounds good too. I've probably been there thirty times and there's still stuff I need to try.