When one thinks of culinary excellence, one thinks of Auburn Blvd.Â One just can’t help it.Â It is inevitable that one be drawn by the fine wafting odors of Sacramento’s “street of dreams” when hunger rattles one’s belly. Be it Taco Bell, Mountain Mike’s Pizza or the unnamed restaurant in the bowels of the Clarion Hotel, gastronomic greatness exudes from every street corner.
I kid, of course. Auburn Blvd is simply an asphalt ribbon of sleaze with a few gems floating in the muck, and lucky is one who finds the gem without getting a little bit of the sleaze on him.Â One of those gems is La Rosa Blanca, a speck of a place wedged among a pawn shop a ubiquitous flophouse style motel and the Deseret Thrift Store (RULDS2?).
The Mrs. and I hit the Rosa last weekend when we were both feeling a little under the weather.Â We just wanted some Mexican comfort food- nothing fancy, nothing exotic, nothing that would take too long.Â La Rosa Blanca turned out to be a perfect destination.Â The dining space managed to feel cozy rather than cramped which wasn’t easy since the place was just about full with only 25 diners.Â First impressions of a Mexican restaurant are usually transmitted through the chips and salsa, and La Rosa Blanca’s salsa was wonderful, chunky and fresh.
The Mrs. opted for carnitas, and I went for “Mama’s Chicken,” a specialty of the house. Â Both dishes were brought out on molten hot metal plates by our gracious and attentive server.Â The rice and beans, usually an afterthought at most Mexican joints, were top rate.Â The carnitas, well roasted and flavorful, were served with generous slices of avocado.Â Mama’s Chicken, however, stood out as one of the strangest Mexican dishes I’ve ever had.Â Large hunks of slow simmered chicken sat stewing in a deep red sauce that I thought would be spicy and straightforward, but instead turned out to be more complex than a Raymond Chandler novel.Â Tasting of chiles, tomatoes, and spices like allspice, cloves and cinnamon, the sauce picked me up, teased me, doorbell ditched me, hid my keys, then slapped me in the face…but in a good way.Â There was one flavor especially that I just couldn’t place, and when I asked the waiter about it as he was taking away my completely empty plate he smiled and said, “Coke.Â You know, Coca-cola.”
Ah, that crafty Mama.Â She puts soft drinks in her Mexican food.Â She probably treated he children’s toothaches with whiskey and laudanum too.Â She’s my kind of lady.
P.S. La Rosa’s location, on Auburn Blvd between Watt and Fulton, will be changing soon, if not already, to the former digs of Sampan Chinese on Fulton between El Camino and Marconi.Â The signs in LRB let customers know that they were moving to an address that was “Formally Sampan Chinese Restaurant.”Â Mrs. Eats and I had a good time imaging all the Sampan employees moving out their woks and paper lanterns while wearing white ties and tails and saying “excuse me” and “after you sir” in Jeeves and Wooster accents.Â That’s how we roll.
La Rosa Blanca- (soon to be) Fulton Ave between El Camino & Marconi
Food***1/2Â Service***Â Atmosphere**