“Where are you going to brunch?” I was asked by my gent as I was dropped off Saturday morning.
“Rosa Mexicano,” I replied.
“Ew, that place has gone down hill. I’ll bet it’s a C,” he said, giving me his unsolicited (as always) opinion and ruining my first impression
A few minutes later, I met my dearest friends Adrienne and Christina, who were both in my sorority in college, at the Mexican restaurant in Penn Quarter for brunch.
Rosa Mexicano was a popular chain in DC and New York. I distinctly remember friends raving about it when I was in college and a young professional in Washington. But, it had been awhile since I’d been there—so I decided to go when they invited me in for brunch.
When we first arrived at noon, the enormous space was empty. We were seated at a bright four-top by the window and settled in to catch up.
The waitress arrived with chips and salsa. Rosa Mexicano serves thin, greasy chips and Mexican salsa. It’s good, because it’s what you expect from a Mexican joint.
As was mandated, we began with the guacamole, which is made fresh tableside—the signature component of the Rosa Mexicano dining experience. Honestly, the guacamole was OK. I remember it being phenomenal—but at this point in my life I’ve had far better guacamole.
We ordered drinks—mimosas and coffees. The mimosa was so-so—it was too sweet, with not enough bubbly. But, I’ve never met a mimosa I didn’t like— so I polished it off.
The Bloody Mary, which arrived to our table as a surprise, was quite delicious. It was light—not too thick. It had a bit of a kick—but was not too spicy. You could taste the liquor—but it wasn’t too strong.
We shared a few appetizers: the chicken empanadas and the ceviche tacos. I found the appetizers to be better than the entrees. Empanadas always win me over as they’re my favorite food—these were baked, filled with a flavorful shredded chicken, and served with a creamy Chipotle dipping sauce. Yes, these are a way to win me over.
The ceviche tacos were lime-marinated mahi mahi tacos, with green onions, in corn tortilla shells. The two-bite tacos, served as a plate of three, are a great dish for sharing.
For our entrees, we shared the Baja fish tacos, fried white fish served with the purple cabbage slaw in a corn tortilla. The fish tacos are served with delicious Mexican street corn, to which Adrienne laid claim. It was as good as it looks.
We also split the lone two brunch entrees: two huevos dishes.
The last time I had a Mexican brunch, I had the same thing: scrambled eggs with chorizo. Served in a skillet, these eggs were loaded with fresh veggies: spinach, mushrooms, onions, diced tomatoes, and salsa. The scrambled eggs and chorizo were really mixed in—it was more veggies than anything else. It was a great breakfast dish, as it contained everything you’d want in a breakfast dish: eggs, meat, vegetables, flavor, and some fried tortilla goodness on top. Served in a cast iron skillet, this breakfast dish was loaded with deliciousness and worth ordering again—should I find myself at Rosa.
The second brunch dish, also a plate of eggs, was beautifully presented, with half the plate covered in a green sauce and the other in an orange. The dish was a layer of corn tortillas, a layer of chorizo, a layer of poached eggs, and topped with corn tortilla strips and cilantro, followed by these bright sauces.
The Bitches say: B-. Rosa Mexicano used to be so popular—but it’s fallen from its height due a decline in quality and competition from other, better spots.
575 7th Street N.W.
Rosa Mexicano serves its lunchy brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.