El Secreto de Rosita

My spouse and I are having a lazy weekend at home, recharging our social batteries after many weekends of back-to-back get-togethers, happy hours, and weddings. I almost cancelled our reservation at El Secreto de Rosita for this very reason, hoping I could convince him to just stay in and order Chop’t on Uber Eats. I am glad I eventually pulled myself up by my introvert bootstraps and made it happen, although the food at El Secreto Etc. is basically the anti-Chop’t.

I tried and tried to get a reservation here that included by in-laws, who I thought would be down to try it. One look at their decor and I was completely relieved I’d only been able to find a table for two. If you know The Big Lebowski, the interior is a lot like Maude Lebowski’s studio. In a word: VAGINA. Consider yourself advised.

To start off, we ordered from their tasty-looking list of house cocktails. I had the El Placer (left), entirely because it advertised cardamom-infused pisco. My husband asked for the Santo Pecado (right). The El Placer had a definite tinge of cardamom without being overwhelming, and a bitterness and light smoke from the unnamed whiskey (possibly Scotch?) The Santo Pecado had a small punch of jalapeño heat without the vegetal flavor that sometimes comes with chile infusions, and a nice, citrusy flavor for balance. We ended up swapping drinks, but would have been happy either way.

The server let us know about the specials, which included an octopus small plate (sign us up!) We also ordered the ahi tuna tiradito (they got me with the passionfruit) and the seco de res, a dish I am just generally passionate about. The tuna was small but absolutely delicious, with plenty of sweet-acidic sauce and a nice, thin, tender cut of fish. The octopus had a great char with crispy suckers, although the thick end of the tentacle was noticeably tougher than the tip. It was all still chewable and delicious, plus the aji amarillo mousse next to it was earthy, spicy, creamy, whipped perfection. It could have been dessert.

Finally, the seco de res arrived, with pinto beans and al dente rice. I tasted the beans first, thinking “wow, these are so smoky and ham-flavored,” but that was before I had a bite of the beef. The meat separated from the rib bone with a slight tug of my fork, and most of it was fork-shreddable. The flavor can only be described as the essence of beef.

It should have ended there, with us feeling satiated but not full full. I even said, “I don’t want dessert, I’m feeling like I ate the correct amount.” But then the server dropped a plate of unordered buñuelos on our table for no apparent reason and I was like, “NEVERMIND!” Doughy, yeasty balls of joy with thick, rich chocolate sauce. It was also correctly-sized, especially for a dessert, although who includes five of anything on a shareable plate? Even numbers, people!

Price: $75 per person.

Bottom line: So that was it! Our first of many visits to El Secreto… We’ll definitely be back, although with a slightly steep price tag, it might be good birthday fodder and not an all-the-time thing. Oh, and one more time: VAGINA.

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