Why I Pay $14 for Rosa Mexicano's Guacamole

When I was a student at New York University, my boyfriend and I used to eat cheap Mexican food practically every day. At Panchito's on MacDougal Street, you could get a giant platter of nachos and guacamole for about $6. Plus the place served alcohol to minors without batting an eyelash. I came to love Mexican food for both its cheapness and deliciousness.

When I went to Mexico to study the Post-Classic Mayan civilization, I was enthralled by shrimp tacos for a buck, guacamole for about $2, and giant frozen margaritas for the price of a gallon of gas. Mexican food, once again, was at the top of my list for food light on the pocket and heavy on the flavor.

Then Rosa Mexicano opened and turned the whole enchilada upside down (pardon the pun). Suddenly a taco was the price of the entire bill at more humble Mexican restaurants. Was the food worth the price? The answer is yes -- especially the guacamole.

Guacamole is usually dished out from a large premade plastic tub onto your plate as an afterthought at most restaurants. Looking more like what the Grinch might leave behind after a night partying than a meal, guacamole tends to be salty, runny, and treated more like a dip or salsa than a dish.

The guacamole at Rosa Mexicano has little in common with the green mess described above. A server rolls a special copper cart to your table to make your guacamole to order. I like mine very spicy and chunky, but please order yours to your specification. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and avocados are mixed and presented in a lava bowl with warm tortillas and freshly made chips. The portion is large and meant to be shared by a few people (though I've ordered it solo as an entrée). The price for fresh guacamole and the show that accompanies it: $14 for dinner and $12 for lunch.

I know the economy is tough, but sometimes paying more for good food is worth it. Sure, you could get guacamole cheaper, but it won't be as good or fresh or come with a show. A New York strip at Applebee's is $13.69. At Prime One Twelve, it's $47. I won't go into explaining which one is better; I'll just say there are different levels of prices for different levels of experiences. And sometimes you gotta go with the good guac.

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