A bouquet for La Rosita

La Rosita

Again today I forge into Southern Indiana, following where a fellow foodie has led. This time I’m indebted to LEO’s erudite Marty Rosen for the published pointer to La Rosita Taqueria (2535 Charlestown Road in New Albany, [812] 948-0401), which jumps into a dead heat with, Rosticeria Luna (5213B Preston Highway, [502] 962-8898), as my favorite 100 percent authentic Mexican eatery in town.

Tucked into the corner of Shireman’s Farm produce market, a New Albany institution, La Rosita squeezes barstool seating for a half dozen into its tiny but sparkling quarters; but on a day as beautiful as today, it’s even more tempting to take your tacos and tortas out front for a seat at one of the little green metal tables surrounded by Halloween pumpkins and a brilliant sea of autumn mums. (Watch those tabletops, though – their artful pattern includes open spaces wide enough to lose a bowl of salsa through.) The proprietors are exceptionally friendly, and their English is excellent, so there’s no need to fret about a language barrier; if you’re still working up the real-Mexican learning curve, this place (like Luna) is a comfortable starting point.

The menu is brief, and it’s affordable: A dozen tacos ($2 each) are described in Spanish and English; tortas (hearty Mexican sandwiches) and the familiar burritos come with similar stuffings for $4.99.

Tacos are the authentic Puebla style, not your crisp-fried Taco Bell hardshells but a pair of small, soft corn tortillas with your ingredient of choice piled on, garnished with fresh chopped sweet onions and savory cilantro; you can kick them up further with your choice of homemade green chile verde, red chile colorado with a chipotle beat, or reddish-orange habañero sauce hot enough to make the cow jump over the moon.

We tried all we could hold, including lengua (beef tongue) tacos, tender and beefy, chopped from freshly simmered meat; beef carne asada and pork carnitas tacos, a nifty new notion, a chile relleño taco with a small, crisply fried fresh green chile stuffed with molten queso blanco and dressed with more of the same, delicious despite its unfamliar perch on a pair of soft corn-tortillas. A carnitas torta was fine, chopped meat, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and onions and a bit of sour cream on a light, pastry-like diamond-shaped fresh torta bun.

All this and a Diet Coke and a tamarind-flavor Mexican Jarritos soft drink jangled the cash register at a very reasonable $17.05, and exceptionally hospitable service earned a $4 tip.

SECOND LOCATION: La Rosita has opened a larger, more sit-down location in New Albany at 1515 E. Market St. in New Albany, (812) 944-3620. Click here for my review.