Rosie’s Red-Hot Cantina & Taco Joint (Wellington CBD, New Zealand)
Stepping into the bustling heart of Wellington during the Wellington On a Plate 2023 and Burger on a Plate event, our journey led us to the vibrant Rosie’s Red-Hot Cantina & Taco Joint. A long-awaited visit and a culinary delight awaited us in this Mexican-inspired haven.
Our first tryst with Rosie’s was serendipitous – perfectly timed with the festival. A previous attempt thwarted by a full house during my last Wellington visit, this was my chance to explore Rosie’s, and the stars had aligned. Rosie’s Red Hot Cantina beckoned, and the first glance at the menu was promising. It wasn’t just about the dishes but the price points – a range of Mexican-styled delights catering to diverse palates and preferences.
Despite the bustling weekday crowd, the efficient staff managed to keep the tempo upbeat and friendly. The busy scene was a testament to Rosie’s popularity among both locals and visitors, a testament to its allure. Amidst a sea of options, Rosie’s stood out for its pricing. In a world where affordability and quality seldom shake hands, Rosie’s did both. It’s a rare joy to find a place where delectable dishes come with a pocket-friendly tag.
Turning to the menu, we found a harmonious blend of Mexican culinary traditions and innovative Kiwi twists. The dishes were a medley of sensations, catering to various taste preferences, from mild to spicy.
While the lively music added to the vibe, it occasionally hijacked our conversations. Yet, the staff’s courteousness and recommendations overshadowed the minor hiccup, ensuring a memorable dining experience.
Our orders spoke of our collective appetite – the tantalizing Rosie’s Best in Town Chicken Wings, the classic Guacamole, and the intriguing Woo-Haa-Kah Flocka Flame. The chicken wings, dripping with Calexican Buffalo sauce, sesame, radish & Xiannaise left us craving for more, accompanied by pints of Fortune Flavours The Adventurer Green Bulle Pilsner.
One of the highlights of our visit was a recommendation from an amiable staff member. We learned about the .50 cent per piece chicken wing promotion that night. Eager to save money without compromising what we will have for starters, my colleagues and I gleefully seized the opportunity. Forty pieces of mouthwatering chicken wings were savoured, all for just $20.00. Comparing that to getting 3 different appetizers, it was a steal.
The Guacamole (NZ$16.00), made with Crushed avocado, poblano, Tajin, salsa roja & pink onions served together with blue & yellow corn chips, teased our taste buds. Although initially under seasoned, the salt shaker on the side came to the rescue, transforming it into a perfect accompaniment.
The Woo-Haa-Kah Flocka Flame Burger (NZ$29.00) showcased a creative mix of ingredients, made with smashed beef patty, pibil pork belly, Oaxaca cheese croquette, grilled pineapple, chili pickled cucumber and radish, shredded cabbage, jalapeño crema & fermented mayo in a milk bun. The description was a masterpiece on paper – a symphony of components that seemed ready to burst into an exquisite harmony of taste. With heightened anticipation, I embraced the burger. The initial bite unveiled an intriguing dance of textures. The patty’s crunch met the succulence of the pibil pork belly, with the Oaxaca cheese croquette’s gooey interior adding a touch of creamy indulgence. The grilled pineapple lent a tangy twist, while the chili-pickled cucumber and radish contributed a refreshing crunch.
However, as the journey progressed, a common thread emerged – an undercurrent of under seasoning. While the pork belly proved fork-tender and flavoursome, the patty, unfortunately, lacked the robustness I craved. The Oaxaca cheese croquette, although delightfully gooey within, sported an outer layer that, while crunchy, leaned towards an unwanted hardness. Amidst this, the grilled pineapple stood as a beacon of brightness. Its tangy sweetness cut through, lending a refreshing contrast to the ensemble. It was a stroke of genius, harmoniously balancing the savoury components.
The shoestring fries that came with the burger was dusted with habanero and offered a fiery crunch. A word of caution: the powdered jalapeno concealed a sneaky kick, triggering instant coughs but lacking overwhelming spiciness. The fries themselves were commendable, bringing a satisfying crispy texture to the meal.
In the midst of this culinary exploration, my colleague’s burger took the spotlight. A tantalizing sight and, according to him, a delightful blend of flavours. His experience highlighted the simplicity of his burger, offering a glimmer of the fire that I, unfortunately, missed.
Our culinary journey at Rosie’s Red-Hot Cantina & Taco Joint was an adventure of flavours and camaraderie. Amidst the vivacious atmosphere, the delightful service, and the indulgent bites, Rosie’s etched its mark as a must-visit Wellington gem.
Rosie’s is more than a restaurant; it’s a blend of affordability, innovation, and vibrant culinary traditions. Amidst the myriad choices Wellington offers, Rosie’s manages to stand out, weaving stories through each dish and ensuring that every bite is a memory worth cherishing.
Rosie’s Red-Hot Cantina & Taco Joint
Address: 4 Queens Wharf, Wellington Central, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Phone: +644 473 7244