Rosy’s Taco Bar
A “Philly style” Mexican restaurant near Rittenhouse and Fitler Square serves up authentic Mexican tacos and margaritas.
Legend has it that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “aimless, yet charming” older brother James, nicknamed Rosy, went on a journey through the American Southwest into Mexico in pursuit of good drink and a beautiful woman. When he returned to the US, he was rumored to be an early champion of the at the time unknown delicacy of “tacos.”
FCM Hospitality has chosen to honor this legacy by opening their own Rosy’s Taco Bar in the Roosevelt building on Walnut Street near the Rittenhouse and Fitler Square neighborhoods.
“When we were researching the Roosevelt family, we found this forgotten story about his drunken forgotten brother,” said Rose Brownell, the Rosy’s marketing manager. “It’s as if he came back and opened this taco bar.”
The concept for the business is to serve as a relaxing neighborhood bar where many different types of people can stop in with their friends or family to enjoy some good tacos and drinks. The interior is designed to have a Southwestern feel with an ornamental steer head hanging on the back wall and plants, provided by ILLexotics (a South Philly exotic plants and animals store), scattered throughout.
“Many other Mexican restaurants are just restaurants,” said Brownell. “We think of ourselves as a low key Mexican pub. A tacos by day, tequila by night kind of place.”
The tacos, the highlight of the menu, are classified into either traditional or special categories. Among the most popular traditional ones are Al Pastor (pork shoulder, pineapple), Pollo Tinga (chicken tinga, chipotle, queso fresco) and Carnitas (crispy pork, salsa verde). The special flavors include (my favorite) Koreanos (Korean-Style Short Ribs, Guajillo Chile Paste, Kimchi, Radish, Chipotle Mayo) and Pescado (Cod, Parsnip Puree, Red Cabbage, Green Olive Mayo, Scallion).
Running the fully Latino kitchen is Executive Chef Rodrigo Rufino, who has over 15 years of experience working in the city’s Latin food industry. After arriving to Philly from Mexico City in the early 2000s, he got his start at El Vez, where he worked under Jose Garces. His big break occurred a few years later when Garces brought him to Amada as a line cook. Since then, he worked as a chef at Mexican restaurants El Poquito and Mission Taqueria before starting at Rosy’s this past September.
“I initially learned about cooking observing my father at his taqueria in Mexico City,” said Rufino. “(In Philly,) chefs have guided me, told me when I made a mistake. That’s when you learn.”
The menu changes up on Saturday and Sunday mornings when they offer a special brunch menu. You can order the “borracho brunch” for $30 which includes 3 drinks, an entree and churros or the option to order items a la carte, such as Huevos Rancheros (2 Fried Eggs, Chorizo, Crispy Tortilla, Salsa Ranchera, Avocado, Black Beans, Rice) and Chilaquiles (Corn Tortilla Chips, 2 Fried Eggs, Salsa de Arbol, Shaved Lettuce, Queso Fresco, Crema, Red Onion).
Alongside the food, Rosy’s has live music every Friday and Saturday night bringing in local artists and DJs. After 10 p.m. they clear some tables to give the place a party vibe. Phit (Philly’s Improv Theater Group) has started a quizzo series.
For more information about Rosy’s Taco Bar, check out their website rosystacobar.com or their Facebook and Instagram @rosystacobar. Address: 2220 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19103. Hours: Full Menu daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., limited menu 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prices: $8 - $14.