153 Waterfront Street
Oxon Hill, MD
Mexican cuisine in Maryland you say? This chain of nine restaurants concentrated mainly on the east coast (with a lone western outpost in Los Angeles) was chosen among the limited within-walking-distance places to eat a late dinner by our traveling group after a long day. Coincidentally, the troop included a native Mexican, who we consulted about Rosa Mexicano. According to him, he had heard it was not Mexican food in the traditional sense, but had some dishes listed on the menu near the front door that he considered quite unorthodox and amused him enough to say, “let’s give it a try”! And so with that directive, we did just that…
This particular location was situated in a new development of commercial and residential buildings in National Harbour, and sat on the banks of the Potomac River – although the direct view was obscured from the outdoor backside deck where we were sat. Water taxis could be ridden back and forth across to the beautiful Old Town district of historic Alexandria, Virginia, making this area a prime piece of real estate.
Decorated inside with an array of seemingly carefully chosen pieces of art, it had a higher end feel and atmosphere and a lively bar area just off the main entrance. Without a reservation, the wait was ample. Forty minutes all told.
Now while I’ve been on the wagon for a while now, the night called for a slight reprieve as the full table was indulging in some margaritas. A pomegranate flavored one intrigued me, so I was the lone member to have this non-traditional drink, while the others opted for the more orthodox. I enjoy tangy and sour food and drinks, so this fit the bill for what I was looking for – refreshing, ice cold, but with some sweetness. They were not shy with the shots of booze within, as I could feel a strong bite to it on the very first sip. Or perhaps that’s just my extremely low tolerance now having stopped drinking.
Another fellow I know who’d been in a Rosa Mexicano before had noted to me previously that if I ever came here, to have the house-made guacamole en molcajete. The accompanying corn tortilla chips rounded out this offering – priced at $14 for a serving of two.
I’d heard that it was made table side but perhaps with our request of two full orders, it came pre-made and simply delivered to our table. Aside from the avocado, the mixture included tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. It was slightly chunky which I liked and there was no skimping on the avocados. It was fresh but still lacked some seasoning in my books. On its own, I wouldn’t call this a rousing success but it wasn’t a swing-and-a-miss either.
And now my main. After hemming and hawing over several dishes that seemed to have some appeal, I reverted to my healthier options and asked for the pescado a la talla (butterflied red snapper). It was pan-sauteed and served with two sauces – one was a tomatillo-cilantro concoction that was memorable for its inclusion of habanero-infused marinated red onions, and the second was made up of guajillo-chili-garlic. At $27.50 this was on the higher end of the entrees and thus I was expecting a more refined presentation, but as you can see above, it came served plain Jane on a wooden board. Adding to the disappointment was the flavor of the fish. While snapper is a fairly neutral fish, it was not being helped by being overcooked, as the dryness hidden underneath the sauce coverings could not be overlooked.
A fulfilling dinner it was not. My companions experienced similar letdowns with their chosen main dishes that I won’t go into here as I did not sample any of their food. Our Mexican friend apologized for the lack of excitement with the juxtaposed ingredient combinations that he thought might be interesting when we walked into this place.