La Cocina de Rosa
2667 Market St, San Diego, CA 92102
Long time, no tacos! It’s been a typically hectic summer for Mike, Michaela and me, and while our Mexican food consumption may not have lessened, our writing about it certainly has. But we’re back with another Combo Number One visit, this time to the delicious and authentic La Cocina de Rosa.
How authentic is La Cocina de Rosa? So authentic they actually don’t have a Combo Number One! So when the three of us, and our friend Mel, visited, we were at a bit of a loss about what to order. They had a number of specials, including two shrimp options (one item prepared a la diabla and one ranchera), a couple of marinated grilled meats, and a bounty of traditional Mexican dishes, like mole, several caldos, and more. They also had a spit outside with adobada, pork marinated in a “red” sauce. Everything looked delicious and smelled good, and it was really reasonably priced. When we walked in, Mel exclaimed, “It’s so cheap!” after looking at the menu.
Mike ended up choosing one of the daily specials as his combo, and Mel ordered the one thing on the fixed menu that was billed as a special. I’d seen someone eating tacos while we were waiting to order and decided that’s what I wanted, so I ordered three “street”-style tacos.
The service at La Cocina de Rosa was superb, though I could see that it could be bumpy if you don’t have someone with you who speaks Spanish. There were two people who spoke English in the restaurant today, but the one other time Mike and I ate there, there was no one who spoke English behind the counter. (Of course, I relish the chance to use my Spanish, so I actually prefer it that way!)
We ordered our food and settled down to wait with generous servings from the salsa bar. The tortillas at La Cocina de Rosa are hand-made to order on site, and the chips are made from the tortillas. They’re very thick and crunchy, not like Tostitos, and not heavily salted. Mike described the salsa bar as “superb,” and he was absolutely correct. There was a creamy salsa made from avocados, a tangy salsa verde, two red options, and a host of fresh ttopping options: cilantro, onions, radishes, limes, and grilled serrano peppers.
My tacos came first, in what seemed like five seconds after I ordered. They were piping hot and full of meat. The tortillas were small, but the tacos were only a dollar apiece! (They had bigger ones available for $1.49, which is still a steal.) The adobada was probably my favorite; the meat was flavorful and tender, not fatty as some pork can be. I also got a carne asada taco and a carnitas taco– on my first pass. They were so good, Mike decided he wanted one, and I wanted another one, so I ordered two more (another round of carne asada and carnitas).
Mike’s meal came out next. It was a chicken breast, marinated and spiced, grilled along with onions and peppers. The chicken came with rice and beans, an ample scoop of guacamole on a bed of lettuce, and more of the amazing homemade tortillas. ”It was really good, seasoned well,” said Mike of his chicken. ”The beans were good and the salsa was excellent.”
Mel described her milanesa, a breaded piece of beef, in the funniest way I have heard anyone describe food in a while. ”It’s thinner than any I’ve ever had,” she said. ”It’s almost like beef jerky with breadcrumbs on it.” I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing (because beef jerky? Not my favorite.), so I asked, and she confirmed it’s a good thing. ”It made it super light,” she said. ”I liked it!” Her steak came with french fries, which Michaela happily ate (along with about a million chips), and beans, rice, guacamole on a bed of lettuce, and tortillas.
I always think it’s a good sign when you see someone who works at a different restaurant eating somewhere, and the fact that a Zensei Sushi employee was chowing down at La Cocina de Rosita is further proof of that. This experience was indisputably our best all-around meal so far, because of the delicious, authentic food and the excellent service. Maybe I’m just a sucker for people who call me “mija,” or maybe it’s my love of affordable food; either way, I can’t wait to go back to La Cocina de Rosa!