Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr • We pay $10 per published guest review; E-mail Blogger for info.

SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudo

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taco Rosa Second Location Opening Soon


READ THIS FIRST: Click here to read ALL our extensive coverage of both Taco Rosa locations. This is the link to follow since this entry you are on now about Taco Rosa's second location "opening soon" has been outdated (and has no pictures of their food).

Taco Rosa #2
On the Irvine side of
The Tustin Marketplace
13792 Jamboree Rd, Suite 42
Irvine, CA 92602

FINAL UPDATE (March 22, 2007):

Just found out that Taco Rosa's second location is solidly on track for an official opening this coming Monday, March 26.

Appetizer: Mini Tostada
Appetizer #2: Guacamole and Chips
Appetizer #3: Shrimp-stuffed Jalapenos
Soup: Lobster Bisque
Entree: Steak and Lobster
Drink: Mango aguas fresca
Dessert: Cheesecake Flan w/ Chocolate-covered Strawberries
The Dilemma
I drove over after work earlier today and pulled into a parking spot and tried to ascertain if they were open for business or not. On one hand, there were ladders against some of the walls, people sweeping up outside, and other hints that they were in final touchup stage. On the other hand, while peering in through the windows (the best I could from my parked car) I thought I saw people inside cooking up food. I didn't want to presume to be allowed to walk in if all they were doing was finishing up construction but I also didn't want to drive away if it turned out they were really serving food.

As I sat there I noticed there was a married couple parked a couple spaces away from me apparently in the same dilemma as myself. Finally the wife got out, walked up to Taco Rosa's entrance, talked with somebody there, then waved her husband in. That was my signal to give it a try myself.
Friends or Family? Maybe
As I was walking up I asked one of the workers outside if it was open for business and he told me it was training day and asked if I counted as "friends or family." I said, "Well, there's several employees at the other location that recognize me every time I go." He said, "Okay, let's see if we can get you in." And we walked in and nobody had a problem with me being there. I was seated promptly and noticed there were about 20 other people there to enjoy dinner. I had the funny feeling that a couple of them were also food critic types.
The Food
I was treated with the usual complementary botana, a tostadita this time with escabeche on the side, which was served in a nice, sturdy wireframe-type basket instead of the woven baskets used at the first location.

I was also treated to some guacamole and red corn chips, some shrimp-stuffed jalapenos, and a bowl of lobster bisque, Taco Rosa's house soup.

Taco Rosa - Mystery Shot
Mystery Shot

I of course also ordered some aguas frescas, mango this time. At this location the servers walk around with pitchers of aguas frescas, ready to top off anyone's glass. They also had cantaloupe aguas frescas on hand tonight.

For an entree I had the steak and lobster tail recommended to me by my waiter. This was served with potato cakes, acorn squash puree in a red pepper half, lemon, garlic butter, and fresh-made tortillas. Nothing like being able to make your own lobster tacos.

While eating my main course I noticed that some of the Calderon friends and family there had desserts that were the same as at the first location but presented even more professionally. When asked what I would like for dessert I hesitantly asked my server if I could get a flan with two chocolate-covered strawberries (on the menu they are two separate desserts). He replied, "Anything you want. You're the boss tonight." If I'd been able to take a picture of it you could see how appetizing it looked. It was the perfect end to the perfect meal. Only thing is, after I was done eating it brought back all the memories of my first few times eating at Taco Rosa when I didn't know how easy it was to get extremely, uncomfortably, full before I learned how to order my meals there in a way that filled me up just right without any lingering feelings of gluttony-triggered regret. If you've never been to Taco Rosa before just trust me that you should order a little less food than you think you need. Go three times, trying something completely different each time, until you understand their menu and portion size better.
I wish I could show pictures of the interior but you'll have to imagine a version of the other location with some of the same design elements presented in an all-new way. From glancing around it looks like they will have a little more indoor seating and a little less outside seating. One big improvement is that the chairs and tables here allow a little more room for your legs under the table.

Taco Rosa - New Exterior

When they open on Monday they will just be open for dinner for the first few days, although the exact number of dinner-only days has yet to be determined. Then they will add lunch (note: it has since been confirmed that they will open for lunch beginning Wednesday, March 28) and about a week after that they will also be open for breakfast. A waitress there tonight confirmed that they will then be offering breakfast every day.

I was asked not to take pictures during this visit. I don't blame them since there were still some final touches needed and it was understood that this was not the official opening. Not being able to take pictures this time meant that I was forced back to the early days of this blog when I was more verbose and descriptive and my reviews had either no photos or ones that were poor quality. For plenty of photographic examples of their food just click on the "taco rosa" label at the end of this entry. You will see that they got better as time went on.
Rhett's Take
My friend met up with me at Taco Rosa for my first visit there after they officially opened. Here's what he had to say:

Taco Rosa: Spanish for "really full bellies and really satisfied taste buds."

If you're into eating high-quality Mexican food that doesn't empty
your bank account nor increase your time spent sitting on the
porcelain, look no further than Taco Rosa. With an authentic variety
of all sorts of savory comida, this supper club has something for

I tried the appetizer platter and the chicken tacos, and both made me
wish I had a bigger stomach. The chicken is seasoned perfectly and the
tortillas are oven-warm and just the right size. On the appetizer
platter, there's a fantastic selection of Taco Rosa favorites, such as
crispy taquitos, fresh guacamole, spicy sliced carrots, mushroom
quesadillas and these deep fried shrimp things.

So, if you're reading this and you like good food and you're capable
of rational thought, go check Taco Rosa out. It's a cool atmosphere
and the service is impeccable. And the aguas refrescas are bottomless.

But, unfortunately, my bladder ain't.

Read the Orange County Register's March 29th article on the new Taco Rosa.


The following are all the prior updates in reverse chronological order:

UPDATE (March 21, 2007):

Still not open yet. Looks like they might still have another couple days to go but the green fence visually blocking off the construction site from public view has been removed and it looks like this new location will have very nice decor.

UPDATE #2 (March 19, 2007):

Just drove by the site on my lunch break and I'm making an educated guess here but I don't think they are quite ready to actually open today. I could be wrong though. Some people may wonder why I'm covering this so much. The answer is that my site statistics show that plenty of people are searching for information on this new Taco Rosa location and no other site on the Internet is covering it.

UPDATE (March 19, 2007):

This location is supposed to be opening today. I am going to try to get there around 6:30pm. If it is open I am going to try to take some pictures. They do at least have their sign up on the outside now:

Taco Rosa - Second Location Under Construction #2

UPDATE (March 8, 2007):

Received an e-mail directly from Taco Rosa stating that they plan to open on March 19. For the first week they will be open for dinner only. During the second week they will be open for lunch and dinner. After the third week they will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don't know though if that means they will be open for breakfast every day.

Taco Rosa - Second Location Under Construction
"This Site is Under Construction"

March 1, 2007:

Got an e-mail from somebody at the Irvine Company earlier today stating that "Taco Rosa [on the Irvine side of the Tustin Marketplace] should open sometime near the end of March." Then went to Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa for lunch (look for review soon) and one of the employees there said the best he knows right now is that it will open on March 19. Expect more information to be posted here as the date arrives.

Taco Rosa - Second Location Coming


Anonymous said...

Is that the former Koo Koo Roo Chicken building at that south end?

ChristianZ said...

Yes, it's taking the spot of Koo Koo Roo.

Anonymous said...

I think it is the same building Christian.

ChristianZ said...

Yep, it's the same exact building.

Chaz Lamrusco said...

Just a nit. How did you know the couple in the parking lot was married. Did you talk to them later?

ChristianZ said...

Hi, Chaz. You caught me in the middle of writing my story. I surmised they were married by what appeared to be matching wedding rings on their respective fingers. I could be wrong about that though.

elmomonster said...

You crasher you! HAHA! Awesome. I'm going to try to check them out next week sometime.

ChristianZ said...

They have a couple new items you should be on the lookout for when you go. Be sure to give the menu a good read and also find out what the specials of the day are.

Chubbypanda said...

That took some cojones. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

So cool that it's finally open! C and I tried stopping in last Friday, but there was a big sign saying "private party" and they really weren't letting anybody else in this time. Now that I'm back from NY, I'll try again, maybe this week.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks, CP. It was one of those things where I didn't want to drive away if it was going to turn out they were cooking that night.

Joy, good to hear from you again. Sounds like you had the opposite experience of me: you went when it should've been open and it wasn't. When you go back (and hopefully it really is open this time) be sure to look the menu over for a few minor changes.

Anonymous said...

my girlfriend and i reside in lake arrowhead ca.we came down to visit my son,who currently resides in irvine.we were early with time to kill,and invariably,the words"a margarita sounds good"came from her,errr,me?-whatever.It did sound good,and I'll be damned if it was'nt the best we've ever had! And that ain't the booze talkin'!We highly recommend every aspect of this establishment.the food is flat-out killer!we'll be back!

ChristianZ said...

Glad you liked it. Stay tuned for an entry coming soon on Taco Rosa's new breakfast menu.

Anonymous said...

what? a margarita omlette?.. .. . sounds yummie! no,oh,OH! MARGARITA PANCAKES!,CON BLUE AGAVE SYRUP?!.. . maybe somebody should tell the I.H.O.P. down the street to just pack it up now!-arrowhead annon.

ChristianZ said...

Hey, you're actually guessing pretty close.

Anonymous said...

I went a couple of weeks ago and the food was excellent. Just be prepared to wait. I'd called the day before for 'priority seating', which only got me a snide remark and a laugh from the host ("Did they tell you how priority it is?"). It is also very tiny inside!

ChristianZ said...

Glad you liked the food. It might not be huge inside, but "tiny" might be an exaggeration. If you want to see tiny go to Normita's Surf City Tacos.

Anonymous said...

Went for breakfast this morning at about 10:00 am and there was maybe 2 other tables seated in the whole place. My wife and I both ordered the Burrito Toluca and enjoyed it thoroughly. I also love the "churritos" dipped in the chocolate sauce. You can't beat this breakfast for $5.49! I have spent more on an overpriced latte. While it was off-peak, we had no service problems as some have reported, and had about 4 different people come up and ask how everything was. Very attentive staff. Their lunch menu does not look much different from that of Taco Mesa, except more expensive. However, I still want to try Taco Rosa for lunch.

ChristianZ said...

I was going to ask if you'd seen the review about their breakfast but since you used the term "churrito" I know you must've. Glad you liked the food. I'll have to try the Burrito Toluca soon.

Anonymous said...

I was there about a month ago with a friend of mine, semi-reviewing the place. Everything food-wise was great, I had lobster filled enchiladas.

I'd give it 4/5, because of two exceptions:

1) There's nothing spicy on the menu. I even asked to have some type of tapatio sauce, or Tabasco to spice everything up - they said that they don't have vinegar based condiments. That was very disappointing, as everything could have been improved. Not even their salsa for their chips was spicy enough... which leads me to #2...

2) No complimentary chips/salsa? Is that too much to ask for? And when you pay for the chips, it's only one order. That was shocking.

ChristianZ said...

Maybe you can take a jar of Gringo Bandito or some other hot sauce with you next time.

They aren't skimping by not giving chips and salsa, they are actually being more authentic by giving free botanas (appetizers) that are like things you would actually get in Mexico. Chips and salsa is an American phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

So now I've been for breakfast and dinner, and both were outstanding experiences. On this occassion, I started with the house margarita, which was outstanding, with homemade sweet and sour. Then came the lobster bisque, which was rich and creamy with morsels of lobster. I ended up ordering the special yellowtail fish tacos, which were also excellent. I so wanted desert, but couldn't fit it. Went on Saturday night about 7pm and only waited about half an hour. Highly recommend this place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

ChristianZ said...

Thank you for relating your positive experiences. I just noticed a couple days ago that the Irvine location now has specials of the day. I think they had the yellowtail tacos that day so we could have been there on the same day.