Rosa Mexicano does crowd-pleasing Mexican and Tex-Mex fare in a bright, sunny set-up, overseen by a painting of Mexico’s best-loved daughter – the instantly recognisable Frida Kahlo.
Location: Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre, Eat Street, T13/70 Middleborough Rd, Burwood East, VIC 3151 Ph: 0434 854 108 See Website for Further Locations
The branding of Rosa Mexicano is clear as soon as you work into any of their eateries. A bright palette with plenty of pink – Rosa Mexicano translates as Mexican pink – and a love of Frida Kahlo. In fact, at the Burwood Brickworks branch, Frida watches benevolently from a mural on the back wall.
But then with Mexican cuisine so ubiquitous at present, you need to fix on something that distinguishes you from the pack and stick to it.
Another en vogue Mexican chain is La Cabra Mexican. Read our review of La Cabra Mexican Hawthorn, here.
As for the food, it’s the kind of fresh, zesty, easy-to-share fare that is a winner for both a cheap date night and a gathering of friends.
And whether you’re part of a couple or a larger group, there are numerous variations on a Margarita to keep you talking, of course.
The Rosa Mexicano at Burwood Brickworks is part of the Eat Street strip of restaurants. This wee chain of venues runs to one side of the main shopping complex. Other dining options along the row include Korean fried chicken at Gami Chicken & Beer and Japanese cuisine at Ichiro Izakaya Bar.
Sat on a corner, the venue benefits from a wall of windows along one side, giving the dining room lots of natural light. However, there’s also a small outside area for those who wish to take in some fresh air.
In keeping with the striking Frida Kahlo portrait on the rear wall, the decor of Rosa Mexicano is very much what many of us perceive as ‘typically Mexican’. Stone greys and pale teals provide a backdrop to checkerboard borders and pink details. There are a few knobbly cactus plants in pots and more greenery dangling from the more structurally interesting light fittings.
Simple wooden tables and sky blue chairs are the main furniture.
To the right of the restaurant, there’s a carefully organised bar with a rainbow of Mexican Sodas standing to attention. Further along, diners can catch glimpses of the busy kitchen through the window over the pass.
The ambience is relaxed and friendly. It feels like an efficient, casual diner – just as a good cantina should.
For a run-down on our Best Mexican Restaurants in Melbourne, see here
The menu at Rosa Mexicano is actually quite large, not least as some dishes come with a number of possible Add Ons. So for example, something as straight forward as the Nachos Supreme ($17) – Corn Chips, Black Beans, Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Chipotle Mayo, Guacamole & Sour Cream – can be supplemented with Vegan Cheese ($3.0) or Meat ($4.0).
This means that ensuring that you’re eating vegetarian, or even vegan, is not a problem.
This time around, we are 3 for a pre-cinema meal. And happily, we all have different appetites when it comes to ordering.
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The pescatarian isn’t massively hungry and so settles for a couple of the Fish Tacos ($9).
They arrive, a crispy battered Flathead Fillet on a bed of shredded Carrot, Corn, Cheese and Garlic & Chipotle Aioli and are, apparently, just the right size.
Meanwhile, the teen veers away from the more traditional Mexican offerings and goes for a Burger. Their choice, the Sriracha Maple Chicken Burger ($23) features Buttermilk Fried Chicken, coated in a spicy Sriracha Maple Sauce. Along with the chook, there’s also Lettuce, Tomato, Cheese and Chipotle Mayo all in a dramatic black bun. And a portion of Fries that are fat enough to be Hot Chips, to my mind.
Both the regular Paella ($34) – Chicken, Chorizo, Mussels & Prawns Cooked with Rice in Garlic Tomatillo Salsa and more – and the Seafood Curry Paella ($38), nearly get a vote. However, Eatability is lured by the attractions the fabulously named Chimichanga ($24). This turns out to be a chunky Fried Burrito accompanied by Mexican Rice, Pico de Gallo and more of that Chipotle Mayo. There’s a choice of filling, and Chipotle Chicken wins out narrowly in the end.
It might not be the most elegant plate of food, but it’s clearly all freshly prepared and tastes great.
For dessert, we consider the Nutella Taco ($10). Because…Well. Why wouldn’t we? After all, who doesn’t like the sound of a Soft Tortilla sandwiching Nutella, Marshmallow and Strawberries?
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Ultimately though, we’re more intrigued by the Banana & Mango Empanada ($12). A Pastry shell, stuffed with Fried Banana and Mango with a liberal dusting of Cinnamon Sugar and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream, it doesn’t disappoint.
Along with the Margaritas ($21/71), the team at Rosa Mexicano shake an array of other Cocktails.
The party adjacent to our table are particularly happy with their Strawberry & Mint Vodka Sangrias ($24). Apparently, the concoction is light and fruity, but with a decent thump of alcohol.
And talking of Sangria, the bar does Red, White, Agave & Menta versions – both by the glass and jug.
If Cocktails and Sangria don’t do it for you, there’s also Beers, Wines, Spirits,Tequilas & Mezcals.
Pleasingly, the non-drinkers are well-catered for with 7 Mocktails, and a healthy selection of Cold Drinks. Our preference is those colourful Mexican Sodas ($7). Both the Tamarind and the Pineapple are a good foil to the cheesy richness of the food.
For a good value meal of familiar Mexican favourites, check out Rosa Mexicano.
The food is fresh and well-seasoned and the drinks list has something for everyone. In addition, the restaurant itself is upbeat and welcoming.
What’s more, the staff at the Burwood Brickworks outlet, though a little timid, are very sweet and accommodating.
It’s the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat before a movie.