La Rosa Tequileria & Grille | Santa Rosa

La Rosa in downtown Santa Rosa features margaritas and solid Mexican fare

Cantina was always the margarita, chips and chimichanga restaurant I wanted to love, but never could. The chips were stale, the margaritas syrupy and the food, well, was only a step above Taco Bell. On a good night. Don’t even get me started on the subway-station bathrooms.

Which is why it’s heartening to see the spacious downtown Santa Rosa cucina reincarnated as La Rosa Tequileria and Grille. Without trying to reinvent the wheel, the new owners have given the restaurant a stylish makeover (beautiful mural, new banquettes and chairs, new bathrooms and a bright open bar), a solidly tasty updated menu, a kick-ass tequila lineup and a more upbeat vibe without taking away it’s approachability, affordability or “let’s go get a margarita and chips” vibe.

Special features include tequila flights and tastings, along with real-deal margaritas — housemaid sweet and sour, rather than the stuff that comes in 20 gallon drums.

Here are some don’t miss eats and drinks:
– The Smokey: Made with Mescal and tequila (with a bit of cranberry), this is a sneak attack of a cocktail that’s rich and smoky and delicious.

The Smokey

– the Diablo: Strawberry meets jalapeno in this saucy little margarita.
– The Cucumber ‘rita: Fresh cucumbers and tequila. ‘Nuff said.
– Scallop ceviche: Not overcooked, not undercooked, with bits of chorizo (better than it sounds) and peppers.
– Killer guac, salsa and chips
– Caramelized plantains with ice cream: Shut up. Just shut up.
– Mini carne asada tacos with pineapple: Sweet, spicy, mini. Can’t eat just one
– Fish tacos: Ahí ahí tacos with bits of fresh orange, cabbage, cilantro and guacamole. Takes me back to Baja.

In short, it finally feels like the place we always wished Cantina could be, but never was. See you on the patio.

La Rosa Tequileria and Grille, 500 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sun 11am-2am


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24 thoughts on “La Rosa Tequileria & Grille | Santa Rosa

  1. I have been there a few times now and have had great experiences every time. The chips and salsa are great. I have had the chicken enchiladas and a couple different salads…all very tasty!

    1. I went with a group of six for a Cinco De Mayo lunch. Three of us had the shrimp & mahi tacos and we all thought the food was bland. The beans had no flavor at all, the rice, though fresh had no spices. The tacos were fresh tasting just not enough fish or real spice. Maybe a good place for drinks but the food needs upgrading at least for lunch.

      1. This was the first time eating at this place since they changed hands, I can honestly say I doubt I will go back, I ordered fish tacos which I love and could not eat them because the fish was slimy, the rice and beans were very good though but for the money I paid it was not worth it, and I am not a picky eater, hope they find a different cook because they really need help the service was good I have to say

  2. I’m going with friends tonight. I’ll post my experience…keeping my fingers crossed because its a great spot downtown and I know the new owners are trying really hard to make us happy!

    1. Well, I loved the updated decor. Nice and friendly. Our waitress was very nice and responsive. The Chicken Chili Verde Soup was amazing and the steak fajitas that we ordered rare were just that. Very good! The chicken chili verde burrito could have used a little more sauce on top and maybe a dollop of sour cream. The chili relleno and cheesr enchilada were very good for my vegetarian friend and the chips were delish! So was the margarita on ice with the splash of cranberry juice. Much better than the regular blended. For the desserts, we ordered the deep fried ice cream and the Mexican chocolate mousse. The ice cream dish was not very good but that mousse…OMG! I notice that Heathers picture above has the glass full with the adornment of the strawberries…mine was 3/4 full, no strawberries. It looked a little unfinished but still tasted THE BEST for any chocolaholics! We will definitely return for more dishes. 🙂

  3. My wife and I decided to try it based on the biteclub review and because there is no where in Santa Rosa where you can get both a good Margarita and good Mexican food. And, unfortunately that still holds true. I first ordered the El Rey and it was cloyingly sweet and out of balance. The manager was kind enough to attempt a fix and then when that failed I ordered their basic Margarita w/El Jimador which I still fund to be on the syrupy side and though they claim to use fresh citrus I detected no hint of fresh lime. (Check out Adobo in Chicago). The chips and salsa were good. The guacamole though fresh was quite bland—no cilantro, no onion, no jalapeno—adding the salsa to it helped spice it up. We split the fish tacos and they tasted fresh, the pickled onions were a nice touch but still they lacked dimension. The rice and beans both had nice flavor. On the whole we would not go again. What happened to the bar manger from Earth and Surf? Now they had some really great cocktails where the flavor of fresh juice shined through. I still make the best Margarita anywhere in Sonoma County.

  4. Had lunch there today. Shrimp fajitas were yummy. Fresh chips,salsa and guacamole were all delish. The mango jalapeno magaritas were amazing! Looks like it’s still the opening for the staff so they aren’t quite on point as far as service goes.But I have faith that this place is gonna be THE PLACE to hang during the wednesday markets. And I say – bring on the happy hour and you will find me there often! Buena Suerte

  5. Extortion or theft? After we received incomplete change from our cash payment of lunch today we were told that any amount less than .25 in coins would be kept by the establishment. I’ve reported them to the Better Business Bureau.

    1. We are surprised and embarrassed one of my staff has said that we round up and “keep the change from the customer.” We have trained all employees our employees that if we cannot givet give exact change back, ALWAYS round up on the customer’s behalf. We completely understand that this kind of ignorance would make anyone feel disrespected, angry, please accept our sincerest apologies.

      Thank you in advance for understanding as we continue to further train our staff and make La Rosa even better. We will always have at least one of the owners on site at all times, so please do not hesitate to ask for one of us if you ever have a concern. We sincerely appreciate any and all comments and strongly encourage everybody’s feedback.

      Karen, please contact me directly and we can work together to set this right. Again, we deeply apologize for your experience and hope we can have the chance to show you what La Rosa can really be.

      Darren Chapple
      La Rosa Tequileria & Grille
      500 4th Street
      Santa Rosa, CA 95401

  6. i liked it. had the chile verde chicken burrito for lunch and it was a generous-sized plate and was good. not great, but good and just as good as anywhere else downtown. liked the atmosphere and the chips too. glad it’s opened up. hope other people try it out too or else it’ll close down quickly like too many other places that haven’t survived this brutal economy.

  7. I went there for lunch and it was AMAZING! I tend to shy away from mexican food for lunch cause its just way too filling. But this place rocks! Super tasty, super healthy, super creative and the sevrvice was pleasant. I will go back and back and back! I work just down tje street and hardly went in because the old place was just too average. Try the grilled salmon tacos w a great fresh tangerine sals! And the veggie wrap was to die for! You would have thought there was meat but all healthy!
    Oh!!! And the chile verde soup was delicsh!!! I even poured some on my tacos!!! HOME RUN Guys!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Went back today for lunch with friends. Overall consensus was “solid” and “glad to have it downtown”. Food presentation wasn’t quite as nice as the pretty pics i took on friday, but the Rellenos were tasty and the prices were right on. Look forward to other thoughts.

    1. Yes, we will begin our happy hour menu next week. It will consist of $4 margs in addition to other drink special and a small bites menu including $1.50 tacos, $3 Nachos and Quesadillas and $2.50 for the worlds most delicious hot wings, amongs other things.

  9. Staff was nice. Interior looks good. Food seemed about like it was when it was the Cantina. Drinks seemed weak. Will give it another chance in the summer when the patio is open and they have had time to work out the kinks.

  10. Best of luck Caitlin. Everything sounds delicious. Andy and I would love to come in someday when we head that way.
    Gina and Andy Aguiar

  11. East coast kudos to La Rosa!!!
    Can’t wait to experience the revival and vibe!!
    Go Caitlin et al!
    Mom, Beano, Sue and Joe

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