In September of 1984, the flagship Rosa Mexicano opened on First Avenue in Manhattan by chef Josefina Howard. 35 years ago Howard introduced Americans to tableside guacamole, pomegranates, huitlacoche, and chiles. This week, Rosa Mexicano introduces a new leather bound menu that celebrates its founder’s love of authentic cuisine from south of the border, while also giving guests new opportunities to “Journey to Mexico, No Passport Required” at all of its 10 locations nationwide.
The new starters and shareables section of the menu is focused on simple, modern preparations that allow fresh ingredients like ahi tuna, huitlacoche and grilled pineapple to shine. Offering an expanded selection of authentic street tacos and bright and flavorful ceviches, served alongside Rosa Mexicano’s classic tableside guacamole, options include new plant-based and gluten-free dishes. Guests are encouraged to select numerous items, creating an opportunity to explore the breadth of Mexican flavors.
In addition to adding new dishes like Pescado Yucatán, steamed banana-wrapped Pollock served with tomato and red onion; Pollo Con Mole, prepared with Rosa Mexicano’s house-made mole; and Scallops Alambre, to their offerings of Regional Mexican classic entrees, the chain has also reintroduced many of Josefina Howard’s original dishes. The most anticipated being the Filete con Hongos, sautéed medallions of beef served with a tequila cream sauce that includes fresh cactus petals and mushrooms and her braised beef short rib, known to most as the Tablones, served with handmade tortillas that are made fresh to order on a traditional comal.
Inside the menu, guests will find a map of Mexico which highlights regions, and the origins of many of the dishes offered. This was an important inclusion in the menu, as Rosa Mexicano seeks to further educate guests about Mexican cuisine and the origin of so many of their classic dishes.
“Today’s consumers want to better understand what they are eating, and how dishes came to be,” explains Chris Westcott, CEO of Rosa Mexicano. “Dining is an experience, and we want our new menu to not only showcase the stories behind our dishes—we also want it to serve as a vehicle for Americans to better understand the food, culture and people of the nation of Mexico. This is an opportunity for education.”
35 Years of History
The menu features ten pages that are designed to not only highlight its offerings but are also designed to tell more of the story behind the brand’s 35-year history—including the folklore behind its iconography that includes the Otomi gods. Originally created by the indigenous people of Puebla, the Otomi figures were cut from tree bark and wrapped around seeds before planting to ensure a bountiful harvest. Josefina Howard also felt the Otomi protected both her restaurants and her patrons.
The menu also explains how the Cliff Divers of Acapulco—a symbol of great pride in Mexico—are the inspiration behind the divers that adorn many of the restaurant’s walls.
Agave Spirits & Much More
Under the leadership of Rosa Mexicano’s beverage director, Courtenay Greenleaf, beverage offerings have also expanded to bring more focus to agave spirits like tequila and mezcal to more unfamiliar spirits like sotol and rums from Mexico. The new menu includes more than a dozen new cocktails, with highlights including the Sotol Storm, created with La Higuera Sotol, ginger beer and angostura bitters; as well as Buena Vibra, a tiki-inspired beverage that features Charanda, a rum produced exclusively in Mexico.
“Our new bar program offers both one-ounce and two-ounce pours of more than 100 different agave spirits, as well as new tasting flights of tequila and mezcal that change regularly,” explains Greenleaf. “As I always like to say, you don’t discover your favorite agave spirit—it finds you. This is the reason why we encourage our guests to sample them all.”
Rosa Mexicano’s new menu will begin being offered at all locations on Wednesday, September 11.