La Roca, is a Mexican restaurant located on Smith Street in downtown Winnipeg. It’s the site of what was most recently Gio’s, Winnipeg’s most prominent gay club. Before that there was a restaurant called The Storm, and a couple of others before that.
Recently they had some late night trouble, but other than a quick link to it, I’m not going to talk about it in this review. Since I started this review there is another incident. The place has been on my radar for quite a while, but it’s hours don’t translate particularly well with my schedule. This is a me thing, not a La Roca thing.
La Roca Supper
My first visit was on a very hot day. Despite the offer of air conditioning cool, I chose the patio for seating. However, I got to see the interior as I went through to the patio. The colours are dark and the lighting tends to be as well. There is a lounge area to your left and a dining area to the right. The seats look comfortable. There are also several TVs if you wish to catch the big game.
The patio is a double-decker affair. I ended up on the main level both times. There is enough shade that even on a hot day it is quite comfortable.
Shortly after being seated at the restaurant, you are brought a bucket of tortilla chips and salsa as a starter. From there my server took my drink order and then came back to take my food order. The patio was fairly busy, but the staff was on top of things as far as service is concerned. I’ll say that the quality of service is the best thing I experienced at La Roca.
I settled on a taco platter for my order. The order comes with three tacos and two sides. I chose the Mexican Rice and the Spicy Mexican Baked Beans with Bacon and Chorizo. For tacos I went with the Chipotle Chicken.
The tacos are certainly well filled. That includes a fair bit of chicken even if it does not show in the picture above. However, that is about all that stands out about the tacos. The restaurant claims to be serving elevated Mexican cuisine, but the flavour on the tacos was quite bland.
The lack of flavour and of seasoning carries over to both of the sides. With the beans, what appears to be sauce, is just a watery concoction that does nothing to bring out the flavours of the other three ingredients. I say the same thing about the rice. It is pleasant tasting, but not much more.
Giving La Roca Another Go
A couple of weeks later I returned to La Roca. Again, I took a seat on the patio. This time around I chose a soup, and to go with it a plate of taquitos. The soup is a Mexican chicken soup. The soup is good but not even very good, let alone great. You may notice a theme beginning to develop here.
The taquitos are again, just an okay kind of item. The taquito shells are not particularly well cooked. It was like eating a rather dry breadstick. Maybe this is the way they are meant to be, but it is not my choice. Also, the piling of all the three dipping elements into one bowl did not work very well. There are times when I want to mix, but I also like to take bites that include only one of the dips, and this configuration makes this difficult.
La Roca Overall
There is nothing at La Roca that I would say is bad. On the other hand, there is nothing about the food at La Roca that I would say is very good. Let me repeat my earlier point, the service is very good. I suppose, if average food is a worthwhile trade off for a James Bond, Day of the Dead vibe, La Roca might be the place for you. On the whole I see no reason to return. Simply put, while the food is not bad, every other(save fast foo), Mexican restaurant in town has better food. I’d recommend giving Sargent Taco, or JCs Taco a try instead.