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Friday, May 5, 2023

Rosa Mexicano Offers Festive, If Uneven, Dining for Cinco de Mayo

 by Beth Keating and Ray Keating



May 5, 2023


If you’re wondering where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, you might want to consider the recently opened Rosa Mexicano at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World.  


Just a short walk or boat ride from EPCOT’s International Gateway, the Dolphin site is the newest spot in the restaurant’s eleven location repertoire. There are three eateries in New York City, as well as ones in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

Rosa Mexicano honors the restaurant’s Mexican heritage, dishing up both classic and upscale dishes in a festive atmosphere.  The locale serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and boasts an extensive drink menu, including an award-winning signature margarita served at their New York City destination as well. There is also a separate kids’ menu.


The restaurant is helmed by Florida native and executive chef Ryan Mills, who grew up on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  He previously served as sous chef at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, as well as executive chef at the world-famous Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans, before heading to Denver to help develop a new restaurant concept for Great Divide Brewery.


The menu at Rosa Mexicano certainly is wide ranging, but on the evening we were there, the results were … uneven. There were standout moments, but there were others that ranked as rather ordinary. And that was disappointing given the prices.  On the upside, the décor was lively, with large windows offering a light, airy feel. 


Rosa Mexicano is known for its tableside guacamole preparation, a fun and interesting bit of entertainment along with your meal. And we were fortunate to get a peek as the diners one table over made this selection. The preparer was fluid and friendly, and our neighbors certainly seemed to enjoy the results.


Our meal started off with two satisfying drink selections. The Cocojito ($17) featured Cruzan Rum, house-made coconut liqueur, fresh mint, coconut milk, Canela-Infused Agave Nectar and fresh lime. It all worked together for a refreshing, milky, lime flavor (sounds weird, but again it was quite enjoyable). As for the Mexicano Mule ($15), it also was refreshing. It was crisp but not sweet, and featured Hornitos Reposado Tequila, fresh lime and Q Ginger Beer.

Next came the starters. The Chicken Flautas ($13) offered fried corn tortillas filled with pulled all-natural chicken, shaved cabbage, crema, queso fresco, tomatillo and avocado salsa. It was a nice mix of taste and texture, including the flavorful chicken, a mix of crunch and softness in the tortilla, and mild sauce.


Even better, though, was the Fresh Ahi Tuna Tacos ($19), with soy and lime, red onion, sliced avocado, cilantro, and crispy corn tortillas. It was delectable and zesty – cool, fresh and with a kick.

Unfortunately, the entrées were far less inspiring. Both diners went the duck carnitas route, given that duck is such a favorite in our family. But the Duck Carnitas Tacos ($19) – featuring black beans, grilled pineapple and jicama salsa, queso fresco, mint and corn tortilla – were fine, but in the end, kind of forgettable. And one of us thought the meat was on the dry side.

The Duck Carnitas Enchiladas ($26) – with mole poblano, queso fresco and crema – were an improvement. The sauce was rich, not acidic, and the meat moister. But it wasn’t a must-have-again meal. 

Having said this, the menu is quite extensive, and additional visits would be needed for a more complete picture. At the same time, though, this is an expensive meal.

Fortunately, the taste meter jumped back up at dessert. Our two desserts were, to say the least, generous portions. The Tres Leches offered sponge cake, soaked in three different milks, and light cream, and didn’t shortchange in terms of the size and number of strawberry slices. It was quite good.

Interestingly, the Flan was even better. We might say it was the best flan we’ve ever had. It was smooth and creamy, but not heavy. The sweetness level was just right, with the caramel sauce providing a boost. There also was a tiny hint of smokiness. Overall, it was a cool, tasty dessert – perfect at the end of a hot Florida day.


Is it enough to excel with the drinks, appetizers and desserts, when the main entrées are a bit lacking? That’s a choice only the individual diner can answer. But we did love those desserts.




Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.


Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, and the Alliance of Saint Michael novels; and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

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