Pasadena >Food & Dining > Dona Rosa Bakery Taqueria
577 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA | Directions 9110534.136092 -118.147689
Sat: 6am-12am, Sun: 6am-11pm, Mon-Fri: 7am-12am
Neighborhoods: South Pasadena
Great Place! Bakery and margaritas – been here a couple of times and the more I try the more i like. Great Torta's, I didn't even know what that was, a spanish sandwich, Subway is in deep trouble. Great burritos and the margaritas are excelllent and powerful!
Have great happy hours mariachi on tuesdays and I think fridays. Can be tough to park but then again this is Pasadena. Worth it!
Disappointed – I've been here twice. The first time I just had an apple crisp. It was dry, but not that bad. The second time I had a margarita and some tacos. What I didn't like was that despite their "special" of $1.50 tacos that day, they charged me $2.00 each for al pastor tacos, without telling me there was a difference in price (obviously I found this out a while later when I looked at the receipt). At most serious taco places (I would not consider this one), there is no difference in price between the different meats. Normally I wouldn't care about a small difference, but the al pastor was, in my opinion, not good at all. I'm phrasing this nicely. It didn't have much flavor and was nowhere near tender. You can get way better al pastor tacos about two blocks away, and for cheaper. I'm a fairly experienced taco eater, and I'm pretty frustrated that I actually let myself pay $2 for al pastor tacos of such non-great quality. I will say that the atmosphere is quite lively and nice, so in a sense I at least got part of my money's worth. But in a culinary sense, I wasted money.
The asada wasn't good, but was at least acceptable. The salsa was passable.
I also made the mistake of ordering a shrimp taco. It wasn't good at all, and again I'm being nice here. It barely had any shrimp, nor did they have the proper salsa in the salsa bar which is necessary for shrimp tacos, and thus the taco did not have much flavor nor a remotely satisfying texture. I've had far better shrimp tacos for much less $.
I had one margarita, which was actually pretty decent for the price ($1.75 on a Friday), but was displeased with the after effects (despite only drinking one). In comparison, I once had a margarita at Margarita Jones (next door) and 1 and 1/2 margaritas at a bar in Old Town in the same night, and my head felt better than it did with just one margarita at Dona Rosa.
My advice to Dona Rosa: 1) With respect to the shrimp tacos, go to La Estrella on Fair Oaks north of the 134 and order a shrimp taco. The red salsa that they put on it is the correct salsa for shrimp tacos. Learn from them. 2) With respect to the al pastor, go to the El Gallito taco truck on Fair Oaks near California and order an al pastor taco. Those are legitimate tacos and you should learn from them.
3) The quality of the margaritas at the $1.75 price point is justifiable. But had I purchased one at regular price (if I remember correctly, around $4 dollars?), I would have been as disappointed as I was with the food.
Great location, horrrrrrible food – I'm not sure what kind of cheese they use, or tortillas, but it's tasteless. I also couldn't find a salsa that I could even stand. Love the look, but could do so much better with the food. Sorry to have to write this.
Better food and service at the Santa Anita location. – I have been to the Pasadena location many times and I usually really liked the food. So, I was excited when a new location opened up at the Santa Anita mall. I've also been to that one more than a few times. I'm surprised to say that the one in the mall is much better food wise and service wise.
The people at the one in Pasadena are not friendly, for one. Secondly, they do not listen when you want to order something with NO jalapenos and they don't even bother to offer you chips. You have to ask for them for it. And, third, they have this tendency to just walk away from the cash stand even when there's a line and leave you to just wait to order while they prep food. Poor management planning.
At the Santa Anita location the service people are always very welcoming and check in with you regularly, which was surprising given that table service at the Pasadena location means they just bring your food to the table and that's it.
Now for the food. I love the torta at the Santa Anita location so much better! This surprised me given that they are the same restaurant. The bread at the one in Pasadena crumbles too easily and is very dry. The al pastor is cut into chunks and has a really good and has a lot of flavor at the Santa Anita location, while the Pasadena pastor is shredded and has a bitter flavor and lacked salt (I'm not a huge fan of salty food, but this meat needed it). Also, the Santa Anita location actually had dinner specials. My boyfriend ordered their shrimp enchiladas and they were very good. It was made in a green enchilada sauce with plenty of shrimp and cheese. I would have order again if they had it on their menu regularly.
The only thing I have to say against the Santa Anita location is the parking situation. That mall is horrible when it comes to finding any kind of parking. However, the food, to me, makes up for it. I'd rather sit for 20 min. to find parking, rather than drive 20 min. to the Pasadena location.
Worst Mexican Food In town – Chewy Carne Asada, Bland Chicken! Not Homemade Tortillas. I've been in a few times and they never have homemade tortillas. This is a nice place to go to if you want to have a margarita, if you don't mind consistancy!
Good hangout, margaritas and price. – For starters, the margaritas as of 7/9/07 are $4.25. Still cheaper then elsewhere. My husband and I shared the torta Cubana on the recommendation of internet reviews. We went at 6:30pm with another couple, before the crowd, so there was no wait. The ambience was awesome and we stayed for 3.5 hours - dinner, two rounds of drinks and desert - we sat on couches and didn't get any pressure to leave, and it wasn't too loud. My husband says the torta was "allright" - I personally didn't like it and I could feel my arteries clogging. My friend got two tacos that looked good. Contrary to other reviews this place is not at all expensive for Pasadena or Los Angeles, and believe me I do frequent taco trucks and I'm not rich or anything. The worst thing about the place was that I ordered salad since we were sharing a torta - hugest restaurant mistake I've ever made. I wish I could have gotten a refund. It was clearly a wilted package of greens from the grocery store with sliced tomotoes on top for $6. The salad even smelled bad. I know how much those packages are in the store so I know how much of a profit they made off that "salad." I would take friends here again because it's quite a find for places to chill - you can stay as long as you want, not too loud, no one waiting to clear your table or get your check. I would also go back for the margaritas. If it was just on the food I wouldn't necessarily go back here because you can find better. But, nothing is perfect.
Error rate is unbelievable – I go to Dona Rosa a lot, mainly for their delicious cheese enchilada plate. It's mainly geared towards white, self-absorbed, 30-somethings, so it suits me fine.
The error rate is staggering. Literally 1 in 4 orders is screwed up. I order CHEESE enchiladas. I get chicken and all sorts of other meat products in there instead. I've coined the term "meat check" specifically for this restaurant. My friends see me very slowly stabbing my food with my fork, over and over and ask me what I'm doing. My response: meat check.
I wish they wouldn't hire such idiots. Or at least idiots who understand english.
Fun for fairly authentic for Los Angeles standards fast food... – This spot is great for picking up a snack or even stopping for a meal. There is a ton of seating both inside and out, and if you stay you get free run of the salsa bar... which is more varied than you would imagine. Tamales are better than your typical fast food spot, and the taco platter is a great deal for the amount of food you get.... we fed 4 easily and had leftovers with this... Mexican Hot Chocolate is GREAT and I would even order it in 90 degree weather... but that's just me. They also do catering, and the food goes over great, but check your order as I've had some problems with them giving you everything when you order massive quantities.
Editorial Review – Pasadena Mexican restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Buffets, catering, fax orders and kids menus are available.
Excellent carne asada with not-so excellent prices – This somewhat mainstream Mexican joint, while it does satisfy your standard taco craving, is more pricey and less superb than the more authentic joints nearby. The carne asada is spicy, flavorful choice beef, and be sure not to miss the homemade Mexican pastries. But if its greasy, gutty tacos you seek, skip the 7 dollar burritos and head for the taco trucks.
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