Rosa Mexicano — a restaurant chain known for its tableside guacamole preparation, frozen pomegranate margaritas and huge selection of agave-based spirits — will open Wednesday in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, the CEO announced Monday.
The spot is at 51 Isham Road . across from the Cheesecake Factory. Bar Louie was in that location until it closed in 2020. Rosa Mexicano’s hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Blue Back Square spot will become the 10th location, and the first in Connecticut, of the chain that originated in 1984 in New York City. “This is the perfect demographic for us,” CEO Jim Dunn said.
Other Rosa Mexicanos are in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia and New York. More locations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Rhode Island are in the works, Dunn said.
“For the last two years, we have focused on growing it out. The pandemic put that on hold,” Dunn said. “This is a 38-year-old brand with a fantastic history and a great following.”
The 6,000-square-feet West Hartford location, which will seat 276 in the dining areas and 40 at the bar, will have an enclosed patio.
Manuel Treviño, the vice president of culinary at Rosa Mexicano, learned to cook when he was 4 years old, growing up in a Mexican-American family in Laredo, Texas.
“My mother was a horrible cook,” he said. “I loved to eat and I got bored so quickly. I learned to cook out of necessity. I had fun cooking.”
Treviño went on to attend the (now-closed) New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, then spent 30 years in the restaurant industry.
In New York City, he worked at the legendary Le Cirque and worked for famed restaurateurs Mario Batali and Steve Hanson. He later competed on Season 4 of “Top Chef” and was a guest judge on “Hell’s Kitchen.”
He brought one recipe from his childhood to Rosa. “My Mexican rice lives on on our menu,” he said.
The signature guacamole is $15, $28 for a double, and can be topped off with pineapple pico de gallo ($4), bacon-cotija ($5) and lump crab meat ($9). A flight of guac flavors is available for $24.
Dunn said the guacamole always has been a major draw for the chain. “About 92% of the tables get the guacamole,” he said.
Starters, for $9 to $16, include shrimp in chile de arbol sauce, black bean empanadas, nachos, flautas, tortilla soup, quesadillas, queso with chips, Caesar salad and chopped salad. Ceviche — in shrimp, tuna or salmon — is $14 to $16, with a flight for $24.
Main dishes are a half chicken ($25), tampiquena ($28), salmon ($25), pork shank ($24), carnitas ($23), chile relleno ($20), mushroom huarache ($23), shrimp and chorizo over noodles ($26) and a ribeye steak ($48). Parrilladas, a mixed-grill, is $64 for two people, $119 for four and $169 for six.
Tacos, three per order, range from $12 to $19, in ahi tuna, shrimp, chicken, New York strip, mushroom, duck, cheese, carnitas and birria. Enchiladas, two per order, range from $19 to $24, in duck, chicken, beef, mushroom and cheese. A flight of three enchiladas is $29.
A smaller lunch menu offers many of the same options. See more at rosamexicano.com.
Susan Dunne can be reached at email@example.com.