First Taste: Tia Rosa Taqueria

You might not know it based on the opening week of Tia Rosa Taqueria, but there are other Mexican restaurants in Gilbert.

Quite a few, in fact.

But that didn’t seem to matter to the standing-room-only crowds that packed the former Fazoli’s building on the southeast corner of Baseline and Gilbert roads.

The taqueria is the first spin-off of Rancho de Tia Rosa, the popular Mexican food establishment in east Mesa that consists of a full-service  restaurant and a stand-alone taqueria.

Owners Dennis and Lizabeth Sirrine plan to open full-service Tia Rosa locations in Gilbert and Chandler this year, but it’s their 25-year-old son, Nic, who’s launched the Gilbert taqueria.

The interior renovations are extensive. Faux straw-and-plaster walls create a reasonable illusion of rusticity, enhanced by lots of weathered wood and Mexican tile.

Accent pieces include rusted metal agave, ceramic roadrunners, sombreros and blue glass bottles.

There’s an elevated lounge area in the center of the dining room — a nice idea on paper but you have to wonder how long it will be before the precious real estate is converted to tables.

On both of my opening-week visits, customers waiting for their orders were crowded elbow-to-elbow in the cramped space between the soda fountain and the utensils dispensers.

And they had to stand for a while.

There are two registers to order at, and both have signs warning that training is in progress. The friendly staff also points out the kitchen crew still isn’t up to speed.

I waited about 25 minutes for my order on both visits, which were Tia Rosa’s second and fourth days of business.

(Nic Sirrine says a drive-through window, which only will be used for picking up orders placed by phone, will not be employed until the kitchen gets faster.)

The Gilbert taqueria has almost the exact same menu as the Mesa taqueria: mostly tacos (such as the salmon and shrimp ones pictured at left), enchiladas and burritos sold a la carte. Just because the atmosphere is casual, prices aren’t necessarily cheap.

Eight varieties of salsa are available. Three (a medium red, hot red and green) are complimentary, but you’ll have to pay extra if you want to try, say, orange-mango ($2.50 for 4 ounces) or papaya-watermelon ($2.75).

You’ll also have to pay for chips — $1 for half of a brown paper bag or $2 for a full bag.

Meats — shredded beef, pork, chicken and seafood — are marinated and roasted, making them juicy and flavorful.

Double-wrapped tacos start at $2.99, enchiladas at $3.49 and meat-and-bean burros at $3.99. You can add rice and beans to any item for another $2.

Thus, two medium-sized cheese enchiladas with rice and beans will run you about $9 before drink and tax.

There also are four specialty dishes. The two most expensive, a chimichanga ($8.50, pictured at right) and a carne asada plate (also $8.50), are the only menu items that include rice and beans in the price.

Besides soft drinks ($1.39-$1.59) and horchata ($1.50-$2), beverage options include beer ($3.50 domestic, $4 imported) and margaritas ($6.50-$12).

Tia Rosa Taqueria
Where: 2135 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert (southeast corner of Baseline and Gilbert roads)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Prices: Tacos ($2.79-$3.89), enchiladas ($3.49-$4.99), burritos ($3.99-$4.99), desserts $3.50
Info: (480) 503-3729 or www.ranchodetiarosa.com

First Taste reviews are based on initial visits to new restaurants and are meant to be more informational than critical. Full reviews only are written after a restaurant has been open at least a couple of months.

Photos by Tim Hacker, East Valley Tribune

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9 Responses to First Taste: Tia Rosa Taqueria

  1. roguemaster666 says:

    My wife and I prefer Macayos, but I think we’ll have to try them out….

  2. Stevee says:

    My wife and I and our visiting relatives all frequent Tia Rosas and have over the last decade or more. This is because this is one of the only real restaurants in East Mesa and puts all other chains and independent mexican restaurants to shame. This is because Tia rosa roasts it own meats and doesn’t make things out of lard, real refries and the best chips and home made salas. I just hope the expansion doesn’t hurt the existing restaurant and tacqaria on McKellips. The reason for the excitement is that its fine dining at reasonable prices and excellent food.

  3. Kelly Harris says:

    “You might not know it based on the opening week of Tia Rosa Taqueria, but there are other Mexican restaurants in Gilbert.”

    But are any worth going to? I have to say I am pretty let down by the “Mexican” selection in Gilbert. I tell my foodie buddies if they want to make good money, open up a REAL Mexican restaurant in Gilbert.

  4. Tyler Baer says:

    Amazing Restaurante! The service is fantastic, the food is simply delicious, and the renovations (especially the tiles along the border) are superb. So glad that there is a real and authentic mexican food establishment in Gilbert now!

  5. SueQ says:

    Sticking with Serranos!!!!!!

  6. kweed says:

    AWFUL FOOD. HORRIBLE. Disgusting. Sickening. Worst food I have had in a long time. Not to mention overpriced. Any positive review you see here must have been written by an one of the owners. (And who’s the fool is that spent that much money on tacky “autherntic” renovations, only to slap Chicago Cubs signs all over the place?)

    DISGUSTING. Do yourself a favor and eat anywhere but here!

  7. Stubby says:

    Hi, let’s not forget who owns Tia Rosa’s. The biggest scam arist this valley has ever seen. He owes 100’s of people money. His son in laws are the same. I don’t know how they have escaped jail time this long. I sure would like to know how his wife sleeps at night, knowing how scummy her family is. PLEASE DO NOT EAT AT THIS RESTARAUNT, YOU ARE SUPPORTING CON ARTISTS!!!!

  8. I'll go to Some Burros or Cafe Rio instead says:

    Waited 25 minutes too… for food that was bland at best… Salsa was portioned out in 1/4 ounce servings?! WTF?! My lunch companion and I got the Chicken Quesadilla, Seafood Enchilada, rolled beef tacos, and a bean and cheese burrito…

    We liked the burrito. It had a smokey flavor we couldn’t quite place… and then it hit us… it tasted like smoked gouda instead of cheddar?!

    The rolled tacos were too greasy to be good. The chicken quesadilla had a good amount of fillings but were quickly dismissed by the undercooked tortilla they were wrapped in. The Seafood Enchilada was taking forever to come out from the kitchen… they said it had to be re-made because the first one came out too small… that would be fine if they didn’t hold up the rest of our order while we waited on it. Had to go up to get our order and tell them to just bring the rest when it was ready. When it finally showed up, it was just so-so…

    Nothing I’d order again. Too bad Los Dos Molinos didn’t take over the place instead…

  9. patron says:

    I saw all the reviews and it caught my eye. Usually I won’t go to a restaurant that has so so reviews but Tia Rosa Taqueria has Black and White reviews. Obviously everyone is strongly opinionated. I went myself to check it out and was very surprised. I remember when it was a fast food chain and it is now far from it. The decor and atmosphere is full and lively. Even the second time I saw new things added and developing. They are obviously progressing the restaurant every day. (I never give a restaurant just one chance)(I believe restaurants have bad days just like everyone does) I ordered the Carne Asada (fijitas) and it was very flavorful and filling. They make their Carne Asada different from traditional which threw me off but it was delicious! My busser was polite and cleared my things when needed with a smile. The service was friendly and the first visit I received my food in 6-8mins. The second time I went it was much busier and I waited 10-12 mins. I understand that Tia Rosa’s isn’t fast food but there are others in the crowd who demand it from them because of the racing competition around them like Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, etc. But I’m not going to compare Tia Rosa Taqueria to them.
    My experiences on both visits were delightful and satisfying. Like I mentioned before, in my opinion, it is good to hear a restaurant have such opposite reviews because “people” can be just Ridiculous when it comes to reviews.

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