Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory ~ Hurst, Texas
January 2013 update: Some quick updates here on Rosa's. First off, interesting to note that Taco Villa itself is now in the DFW area (in Benbrook). This is my first revisit since I wrote the below review - almost exactly 4 years ago. I decided to go back because the place seems to be popular still, and maybe I'm just not ordering the right thing? So this time I tried a chicken fajita burrito. What a joke. It was practically the size of a taquito, with a mushy tortilla and tough chicken. Seriously I would've needed 4 of them to fill me up. But I passed on that temptation since quite frankly it wasn't good. At all. The salsa bar is still there, and their chile de arbol sauce remains the only thing I can recommend about Rosa's. Their ground beef tacos mix in potatoes to cheapen the product (I know it's authentic, but authentic doesn't always translate to the best experience). There's only one thing I can say about Rosa's: It's cheap. Cheap. Cheap. That's all it is. I'm done with this place and I vow not to go back unless I hear of significant changes.
One of the staples of my diet while attending Texas Tech in Lubbock in the mid 1980s was Taco Villa. They always had more to offer concerning taste and spice than the competing Taco Bell (there was also Taco Mayo, but that's for another day). Bobby Cox opened his first Taco Villa in Odessa in 1968, and built a regional empire of taco stands throughout West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. As the crunchy fast food taco fad eventually subsided, Taco Villa fell on hard times, and eventually lead to a split of the company. Today the original Taco Villa still exists in the Midland-Odessa area as well as Amarillo. The Lubbock franchise is completely separate but about equal in size. I haven't been to either in years, so no idea how one stacks up against the other (they were one company in the 1980s).
All of this leads up to Rosa's Cafe & Tortilla Factory, Bobby Cox's next venture. The company was bought in after the concept had already begun, but it's clear the franchising expertise has been put forth. Whereas Taco Villa competed against Taco Bell, Rosa's Cafe is a direct response to Taco Cabana. That is, the second generation of the fast food Mexican experience.
Truth be told, there's nothing exceptional about Rosa's, except one very critical point - the price. Nowhere else can you get a complete Mexican meal with beans and rice for under $4. Everything here is average, but certainly decent enough, I guess. And one other aspect of the franchise that is to be commended - the salsa bar. While they have the usual array of mild and medium sauces, not too many offer a chile de arbol as a regular item, and it even has a bit of a kick to it.
When we first moved to NE Tarrant at the beginning of 2003, we gave Rosa's a few tries. But this was my first visit in nearly 5 years. Nothing has changed. And the place is still mobbed. So much so, I couldn't grab a table and had to have mine repackaged to-go. Times are hard, but people still like to go out and eat. Given their popularity, one has to conclude that Rosa's provides the right food at the right price. It's a winning combination for the current economy. But it's not a restaurant I'd recommend.
Website isn't working. No doubt they were too cheap to pay the fee.