Rosa Mexicano

The rating scale of 0 to 100 reflects our editors’ appraisals of all the tangible and intangible factors that make a restaurant or bar great — or terrible — regardless of price.

80 Good

The flagship location of Josefina Howard’s acclaimed Mexican restaurant chain.

1063 First Ave., New York, NY, 10022

212-753-7407

http://rosamexicano.com

Known For

The lowdown

In 1984, Rosa Mexicano opened its doors to teach New Yorkers that authentic Mexican cuisine did not mean chili cheese burritos. It has since opened three other NYC locations, plus branches in Miami, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. The formula? Guacamole prepared tableside, frozen pomegranate margaritas dispensed from a Slurpee machine, and upscale south-of-the-border cuisine. The original locale is a meandering series of rooms done in muted pastels—the pink mosaic bar matches the frozen margaritas—with white tablecloths and large plants. The dishes, from crabmeat enchiladas to beer-and-lemon-marinated short ribs with salsa ranchera, are mostly worth what some would consider a high price tag, and yes, the guac is tops. But this once rich culinary outpost can sometimes feel a little rote, mainly because of the service, which can make you feel like you’re on an assembly line. Worse, the wait staff presses for more drink orders in a way that verges on harassment, and that seems less in the spirit of inspiring a tequila fiesta than procuring more pesos. Eating at the bar solves the problem, though it certainly doesn’t inspire lingering.

What you need to know

Recommended DishesGuacamole en molcajete; carne asada con rojas

DrinksFull Bar

Noise LevelBring earplugs!