1124 N Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607
Hrs: Mon-Tues 11AM-3PM
Fri 11AM-10PM Sat 5PM-9PM
Perfect For: Homemade Mexican food, Vegan and vegetarian options, Quick dinner, Family friendly
Menu: Traditional Mexican classics, very fresh, all homemade
Bar/Drinks: Some wine, beer, and liquor available
Good to Know: Hours may vary, it’s advisable to call ahead to make sure they are open, Salsa served to your table will be green, Be prepared to wait on a Friday night
Parking: Plenty of parking in lot out front
Bathroom: It’s a bathroom, what more do you expect?
If I could shower accolades on a hole in the wall restaurant, it would be Rosalinda’s. Interestingly enough, no one can agree on the name of this restaurant. Rosalinda’s Mexican Bistro. Rosalinda’s Fonda. People all over Greenville and the interwebs have different ideas about this restaurant, with one common theme: It’s good.
So good, in fact, that the name doesn’t matter. What’s in a name? When it comes to a restaurant the most important aspect is the food. This food matters and the food is epic. Rosalinda’s is situated in an old shopping center near the intersection of Pleasantburg Dr. and E North St. There isn’t anything particularly eye-catching about the lot or the area of town, which is one of the things that makes it so special. Inside, the restaurant can only be described as cozy. Mexican art adorns the walls, most tables are lit with a lamp, and the entire restaurant can maybe hold 40 people.
I’ve heard word that evenings at Rosalinda’s feel like a party, and I can’t wait to go on a Friday night. On this particular occasion, I had lunch with my husband and toddler, who was very keen to eat everything that was put in front of her. The menu at Rosalinda’s features standard Mexican entrees such as tacos and burritos as well as a huge selection of chile rellenos and a few soups, stews, and salads. Unlike some tex-mex restaurants, the food is hugely authentic without being overly spicy, although there is a house habanero sauce that is great added to your food if you want to kick it up a notch.
After ordering, we were presented with chips and a green sauce as well as a soup that comes with each lunch entrée. The soup varies from day-to-day, and that day it was a chicken broth base with vegetables, chicken, and black-eyed peas. It was nice and salty with great flavor from celery and onion, and we devoured ours within minutes. The green salsa with the chips had some spice and tasted sharply of cilantro, salt, lime, and tomatillos. I love that the salsa is pureed instead of chunky so you end up with a great ratio of chip-to-salsa in each bite. I ordered extra salsa to pour over my rice and beans (okay my entire entree), but that’s just because I have no shame.
I ordered the ground beef chile relleno, which sounds pretty standard but to my surprise was anything but ordinary. The chile was a massive poblano that was baked, not fried, stuffed with tons of juicy ground beef. A sauce of fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and spiced tomato puree covers the entire plate, and the whole beautiful mess is topped with so much cheese I almost giggled with glee. The chile comes with rice and beans, which were garlicky and so well seasoned that I couldn’t stop eating them. The chile relleno itself was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, and I eat tons of great food as a matter of principle. The combination of the freshly cooked pepper with the hearty meat and light sauce plus creamy cheese was just to die for.
My husband ordered chilaquiles, a casserole of tortilla chips with cheese and sauce. He added flank steak with his meal, and couldn’t stop raving about how perfectly the steak was cooked. The steak was very thin, almost like Korean BBQ meat, and seared with spices on the outside and a brown mole-style sauce over top. The chilaquiles are available with green or red sauce, and we asked the server which she preferred. Green made it onto the plate, and the contrast between the deep beef flavor and the bright sauce was absolutely perfect.
Most of all, eating at Rosalinda’s feels like home. We had questions about the menu answered, extras brought out for our toddler, and generally felt like we belonged, even though we don’t frequent the restaurant nearly as much as we’d like to. The only staff we saw were two women who traded serving tables and working in the kitchen. The menu has something that everyone could enjoy from familiar, mild flavors to spicy exotic dishes that you may have never heard of. I have nothing bad to say except for that if it gets as crowded as rumor has it on Fridays, we should all get there early enough to get a seat, a margarita, and settle in for a really delicious night.