We headed over to Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar for lunch recently and found a bit of a mixed experience. This growing chain of restaurants started in West Palm Beach in 2007 and has grown into quite the restaurant empire and has even been mentioned by Kelly Ripa on the TV show Live with Regis and Kelly. Rocco Mangel started the chain and has quite the pedigree to bring bold Mexican cuisine to his restaurants,which also translates into the cool, funky Mexican décor.
The Boca Raton location can be quite busy for lunch and since it was a bit windy and cool, we didn’t want to sit on the patio. The outside patio has lots of seating and the tables look right out of Mexico, so we can imagine night-dining is pretty cool here. Inside, Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar is a Mexican explosion.
It’s tastefully decorated with lots of color and art work that definitely sets the tone and makes you feel as if you are in a trendy restaurant on a Mexican beach. I actually liked the look of the place and found the bar area to be a perfect spot for happy hour. Table seating inside is a bit cramped and not as comfortable in all areas and we suggest you request a booth.
Service was a bit clunky at the start and we had to wait a bit for the hostess to finish something up before even greeting us. Once seated at the table, our main server was over and we decided to start with the ‘Guacamole prepared tableside with Roccos chips’ ($12.50). The menu promises that this guacamole is prepared ‘table side’ and is probably part of the reason it costs $12.50, but unfortunately, since the tables were packed in to tightly, we didn’t get the show. The ‘guac guy’ came by and asked how spicy we liked it and then walked off to the side of the restaurant to the ‘guac cart’. It was so far away that he had forgotten we requested ‘medium spicy’ and he had to come back to ask again. Served in the cool stone bowl, the portion was large and we both really liked the flavor and commented on how fresh it tasted. The Rocco chips were rather addictive and with the sprinkling of seasoning paired well with the guacamole.
Our server was back to take our orders and to make sure our guacamole turned out well, but we didn’t see her much after that. The lunch rush was in full swing and we had to wait a bit longer than usual for soda refills. On the bright side, our food didn’t take long to come out of the kitchen and was dropped off by a ‘runner’.
Daily Special – Chicken Tacos ($11.50) – Two grilled chicken tacos with pineapple cucumber salsa, yucca fries and some sort of lentil, Spanish and onion side. When they put the plate down, it looked amazing. The tacos popped with color and just begged to be eaten. Unfortunately, the pineapple cucumber salsa was on the bottom, soaking through the flour tortilla which made the tacos impossible to pick up and eat. The gummy bottoms of the tortilla really kind of killed the taco experience, which was a shame since the flavor was spot on. The chicken was nicely grilled and the freshness of the pineapple, cucumber salsa really was enjoyable. Luckily, we had some left over chips, which I used to scoop up the tasty taco filling. The yucca fries were crisp, but suffered from the yucca blandness we really don’t enjoy. The lentil side was a bit confusing. I can’t say 100% that these were lentils and I know they were not beans. The taste was similar to the seasoning found in other Mexican bean dishes and honestly, we were a bit confused on how it fit into the dish.
Short rib a la Parilla Torta ‘sandwich’ ($12.50) – Short rib grilled cheese, oaxacan and cotija cheese, chile rajas, veggie chips. This was a case where the menu description and the presentation was better than the actual flavor of the dish. The sandwich (or torta) is served on a unique roll that was actually turned inside out to allow for a better ‘grill’. The roll was thicker than expected and Chris said that the sandwich actually lacked some flavor, almost like something was missing. The short rib was more like post roast, which doesn’t always lend to complex flavors. We also expected more cheese as the menu called it a ‘short rib grilled cheese’. While the veggie chips were unique as far as restaurant sides, we felt it was a bit of a cheap way out. A salad or even something with more of a Mexican twist would have been a better choice.
We left stuffed and a siesta was almost in order, but we had to head back to work. While we hit a few snags in our lunch visit, they did score high marks with the guacamole and chips with us. The prices are a bit on the higher side for some of the items so budget accordingly if you order appetizers and full entrees. Our tip when visiting the Boca Raton location of Rocco’s Tacos? Order the guacamole and chips and some single tacos or head over for the happy hour prices.
Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar is located at 5250 Town Center Circle Boca Raton, FL 33486