Mex and the city

I am a Mexican food fanatic.

If you don’t already know that about me, you don’t know me at all.

I attribute this obsession to a number of reasons. Number 1: My mother is a Texan. Number 2: Mexican food is delicious. Enough said.

Honestly, I find it to be restorative. There’s no bad week some guacamole and a soft chicken taco can’t solve. Feeling blue? Load up on refried beans and a burrito. Bad breakup? Queso is the cure.

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The problem is–I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last–New York City is a wasteland when it comes to quality Tex Mex. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of “gourmet” Mexican (Crema, ABC Cocina, I’m looking at you). But who wants a duck mole enchilada every Tuesday? And spring pea empanadas with green chili yogurt??

Give me a break.

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I want quality chips. Bomb salsa. Fresh guac. And fajita chicken in a soft corn tortilla with some pico on top. Oh, and strong margaritas on tap. Is that so hard???

Apparently so. Simple is underrated in this city.

So, dear readers, the truth is that even though my roommate (and fellow Mexican fanatic) and I have been on a hunt across our adopted homeland, we have yet to find the truly satisfying Mexican food we crave. It’s a real issue.

But, like true addicts, we never give up. Which is why I ended up at Rosie’s in the East Village twice in the span of three days. And sampled half the menu. And decided that, hey, it’s not half bad.

Yes, the chips are sometimes stale, and the tacos leave something to be desired, but the vibe is A++ and the margs…they’re strong. Ask our other roommate who was having a lovely quiet night until Tropical Storm Margarita rolled in.

For the sake of argument, here’s a full rundown. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. There are worse ways to spend a Wednesday night.

The place: I mentioned an A++ vibe and I meant it. It’s everything you want in a classy Mexican restaurant…festive lights, open windows, authentic music, and some ladies in the open air kitchen making delicious things out of masa.

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The food. I didn’t go twice in three days for nothing…I went to eat as many things as possible. Here’s what I found: the guacamole is great, as it should be. Any kindergartener can make guac. Salsa is the tricky part, and it’s pretty good here. There’s a mild which is mild, and a hot which is also fairly mild but has a smoky aftertaste. The chips were stale the first time I went, and decent the second time so I guess I have to go again to get them justttt right.

First time around, I had an order of the suadero tacos and split the tinga de pollo tacos. My first thought: “What are these? Tacos for ants?” My second thought: “These braised brisket tacos aren’t bad.” The chicken tacos left something to be desired…they were spicy but needed salt, but I concede that I over salt everything and have probably dulled my palate. The rice and beans, on the other hand? Need salt. This was true on Friday, and again on Monday.

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On Monday, I decided to do things differently so I started with the memelitas, which according to the menu are round masa tarts with charred napoles, poblano rajas and tomatillo salsa. I was a Spanish major and I have no idea what that means. I think it means masa puffs stuffed with black beans and topped with spicy tomatillo. The tomatillo was a bit overpowering, but I’m partial to it so I’ll allow it.

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To round things out, my roommate and I split the enchiladas suizas, sans cheese because I live a sad life. Maybe it was the absence of cheese, but these enchiladas had an absence of flavor. Also, they came on plate with iceberg lettuce. Really?? If we were at a Mexican restaurant in Roanoke Virginia (true story my favorite restaurant in the entire world is Alejandro’s Mexican Grill in Roanoke) this would be acceptable. But we were not. We were in New York freaking City and I haven’t seen iceberg here in like ever.

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That said, I would come back for the guac, and to try the other tacos, and because at $8/2 tacos, it’s a pretty good deal.

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The drinks. I’ve tried them all so you don’t have to. The classic margarita is a perfectly acceptable choice. The watermelon is pink and happy and comes with some delicious salt. But the Rosie’s Margarita is where it’s at: mezcal, spicy serrano-infused tequila rimmed in Pasilla de Oaxaca salt which whatever it is, it’s amazing. Have two, roll home, sleep like a bebe. Repeat next Sunday/Monday/Tuesday.

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