Your First Left: Rosalita’s Backyard Tacos

Surely you aren’t surprised I’m talking tacos again? John is overjoyed by my recent need to cover tacos. I was hoping my cornucopia of taco stand coverage would dampen his desire, but no luck. Not too long ago, we hit up another Bywater stand, Rosalita’s Backyard Tacos.

Originally a Rosalie Alley pop-up created by longtime New Orleans restaurateurs Laurie Casebonne and Ian Schnoebelen (the folks behind Iris and Mariza), the pop-up scored its own digs this past January. Now located on St. Claude in the building that once housed Shake Sugary bakery, Rosalita’s Backyard Tacos is offering a larger menu and a huge, outdoor patio on which to enjoy it.

Unfamiliar with the process, John and I walked into the tiny shop which only consisted of a counter and thought we’d have to order takeout whether we wanted to or not. We placed our order (three tacos each) and as I was paying, the cashier asked if we wanted it for there or to-go. Surprised, I glanced around the shop and jokingly asked where we’d sit. Laughing, she informed me of their backyard patio, we just had to take a number, go back out and take a hard left.

With drinks, numerous sauces and our number in hand, we walked back outside to discover a narrow (I’m talking one-person-width only) alleyway that opened out into a large, tree-shaded patio already almost filled with guests. We found an open table and sat down to wait. While sipping a couple of watermelon lemonades, so fresh tasting we might as well have been eating watermelon, a large group of friends were gathering at a table nearby, laughing and talking. Not that I was eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help hearing one guy relate his hilarious adventures while trying to find the patio. Apparently, he accidentally went into the next door neighbor’s yard, walked into their house and sat down on their couch to wait for his tacos!

As we giggled about his mishap between ourselves, our food arrived. We had a total of six tacos, an order of elote and some tortilla chips with fresh guacamole. The corn tortilla tacos were al pastor, chorizo, fried fish, pork belly, lengua and smoked brisket. John absolutely loved the smoked pork and brisket, but I thought they were all not only substantial, but meaty and flavorful, especially with a splash of one or more of their house made sauces. Well, all of them except the lengua.

Though I’ll eat pretty much anything once, I’ve always had a deep aversion to tongue. Growing up, my dad loved preparing sheep’s tongue and he would frequently torment my siblings and I, chasing us around the house with a huge, nasty-looking tongue. At that time, you couldn’t pay me to eat it. But now I am nearing the big 5-0 and I’d heard many tales about the wonders of lengua, so I thought I would finally give it a go.

I didn’t like it.

Thankfully, John did enjoy the lengua taco and he devoured the rest. It had a sharp, pungent flavor, something I would describe as a sensation, which just didn’t jive with me. Could it have been a psychological response? Possibly. But it’s unlikely I’d be so open to trying it again.

Before we started eating, I had planned to try a fruit empanada for dessert, but we were both so full towards the end, we decided to skip it. I know, I almost always get dessert, but I have been trying to break the habit. Maybe next time?

Recently, I was told that Rosalie’s was “better” when they were a pop-up, and though I never had the opportunity to enjoy it before they brick and mortared, our experience was still pretty awesome. In fact, I would go so far as to say among the many taco joints we’d already tried, Rosalita’s was just as tasty, if not more so, and offered a lot more bang for our buck. Does novelty influence flavor? I wonder . . .

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