by LINDEN GROSS A&E Feature Writer
When I first moved to Bend, my father took me to La Rosa. “This is not your average Mexican restaurant,” he told me. That point was reinforced over dinner last month. After a round of some of the best margaritas in town a vat of guacamole made tableside, my three friends I dug into a veritable feast.
Since we had all agreed to share, forks started flying the moment the flavorful Carnitas de Puerco marinated in Corona, Pepsi wine hit the table. Things got even livelier when our server Michael Nerseth brought over the Carne con Nopales, which he insisted we try. The rare beef was so tender flavorful that we checked the menu twice to make sure we were, indeed, eating skirt steak.
“It’s marinated in chipotle, pineapple tequila, then grilled with a tequila-citrus butter,” said Michael. I made a mental note to put the steak on my short list of beef favorites in Bend.
We all sampled the over-the-top Burrito de Marinero next, filled with crab, shrimp white fish, sautéed mushrooms, peppers onions smothered in a cream lobster burrito sauce. If creamy deliciousness is your idea of comfort, just bring your blankie settle in.
Then my dining companions I moved onto the mole special—enchiladas with three completely different house-prepared sauces. As a foodie, it’s tough to admit that I’ve never been a huge mole fan. Now I know what I’ve been missing. I’m still not sure whether I preferred the understated zesty green mole, the barbecue à la chocolate red mole or the deep complex cocoa black mole.
“I just had dinner dessert in one bite,” said one of my dining companions after tasting the latter.
As good as everything was, the general consensus was that my Pescado La Rosa took top honors. I have to confess that I had tried the dish a year prior when a friend ordered it. One bite I spent the rest of the meal filled with fish envy. This time I got to savor slice after slice of the sautéed Mahi, mushrooms, roasted Pasilla peppers in a white wine-chipotle sauce. A bottom layer of corn salsa cut the richness of the dish while adding a hint of sweetness.
We’d clearly had plenty to eat, but our server wasn’t done. “You have to sample the Pozole Verde,” he said as he set down a soup bowl brimming with chicken hominy. Did we ever!
“This is wrong. I’m absolutely stuffed, but I can’t stop eating this,” said the 18 year old at the table. “I love it. I’d eat this every night.”
Half an hour later on the way to our parked cars, he his mom were already trying to figure out when they could return to La Rosa for another round of the green tomatillo chile stew from the Guerrero region of Mexico, as well as the restaurant’s red haujillo chile version. (Call first because it’s not on the daily menu. As with many of the dishes vegetarian/vegan option usually available upon request.)
We ended the evening with deep-fried ice-cream served with a berry coulis a dense cinnamon banana flan that tasted as rich decadent as cheesecake.
I could have felt guilty. Instead, I felt like I had given myself a well-deserved treat.
Pozole next week? Si, como no. Translation: You bet!
2763 Northwest Crossing Drive, Bend
Owner: Carole DeRose
7 days/week: 11:00am–close
(call after 8:00pm to make sure they’re open)