New Mexican Restaurant Coming to Disney World

Rosa Mexicano Restaurants has announced a new fine dining table service restaurant coming to Walt Disney World in 2023. This post covers official details of the upcoming addition, what it’s replacing, and other commentary.

This will be the first Orlando-area location of Rosa Mexicano Restaurants, which will join the already-stacked dining lineup at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in early 2023. With current locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland, as well as upcoming openings in four other states, Rosa Mexicano Restaurants will offer an “elevated fiesta” dining experience, including signature menu items and award-winning margaritas.

“Rosa Mexicano’s arrival to Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is a truly exciting moment of our expansion. The opening reflects our founding chef Josefina Howard’s vision of introducing Mexican culinary traditions and authentic Mexican heritage to the world,” said Jim Dunn, CEO of Rosa Mexicano. “Once the restaurant opens, we will offer the Orlando market a fresh take on Mexican food, authentic Mexican heritage, culinary techniques and lively dining.”

The Rosa Mexicano Restaurant location at Walt Disney World is helmed by Manuel Trevino, Vice President of Culinary, and will feature dramatic design elements to transport guests on a unique culinary journey. The 5,500-square-foot restaurant will offer various seating areas with capacity of about 300 guests, including a 30-person bar and a private dining room for 50.

Rosa Mexicano will be located in the Walt Disney World Dolphin, replacing the current restaurant Fresh Mediterranean Market. That restaurant will remain open until further notice, but presumably will sometime this year for extensive remodeling.

The menu at Rosa Mexicano Restaurant will showcase a contemporary interpretation of authentic Mexican cuisine, including beloved classics and innovative, sophisticated dishes that pay tribute to Mexico’s richly varied culinary regions.

Rosa Mexicano’s renowned beverage program boasts over 100 varieties of tequila and agave-based spirits. The restaurant’s signature frozen pomegranate margarita, named the best in New York City, will also appear on the menu at Walt Disney World.

“Rosa Mexicano is the perfect partner to enhance our current dining options,” said Sean Verney, Area General Manager of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. “We pride ourselves on offering the best quality restaurant experiences for our hotel guests as well as local Orlando residents, and Rosa Mexicano delivers on that promise. We’re excited to be home to their first Florida location starting in early 2023.”

Guests can receive a first taste of Rosa Mexicano during the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, which will be held November 11 & 12, 2022. Rosa Mexicano will offer a tasting station during the popular annual festival.

Headquartered in New York, Rosa Mexicano set a new standard for Mexican fine dining when it first opened its doors on the Upper East Side in 1984. Chef founder Josefina Howard played a leading role in defining what was then a revolutionary ‘new’ cuisine for American diners. Rosa Mexicano continues to deliver authentic, regionally inspired Mexican cuisine in a stylish, “elevated fiesta” atmosphere.

For generations, the signature guacamole and frozen pomegranate margarita have been regarded as best-in-class. Today, the company operates restaurants across the northeast, including New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

I had never heard of Rosa Mexicano prior to this announcement, but judging by its locations in the Northeast, I’m going to guess it’s probably pretty similar to the existing Mexican restaurants around Walt Disney World that are operated by the Palmas Restaurant Group. Personally, this doesn’t bother me, as those locations offer crowd pleasing cuisine.

Regardless, this will almost certainly be an unequivocal improvement over what it’s replacing. Along with Garden Grove, Fresh Mediterranean Market is probably the biggest exception to the statement that the Swan & Dolphin have “stacked” culinary lineups. Aside from that dubious duo, everything from the coffee shops to the flagship fine dining locations are excellent.

Speaking of which, I’m overdue to review Amare at the new Swan Reserve, but it is fantastic. 

We dined at that table service restaurant and had an excellent dinner, and were one of only a handful of parties in the entire restaurant. Everything we had was superlative–from the signature pizza to the steak to the souvlaki. Obviously, not totally on topic here since Rosa Mexicano is operated by a different restaurant group, but just thought I’d mention it while we’re discussing the Swan & Dolphin in case I don’t get around to reviewing Amare. (Suffice to say, we recommend it!)

We also recommend staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and, especially, the new Swan Reserve. For those unfamiliar with them, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are considered Deluxe Resorts but are managed by Marriott. Due to an agreement way back in the Eisner days, these are the only third party hotels that are treated like actual Deluxe Resorts and bookable by the public. (Shades of Green is similar, minus the last part.)

In addition to enjoying standard on-site Walt Disney World benefits and guest perks, Marriott Bonvoy Rewards members can take advantage of program benefits, including earning Marriott Bonvoy points with each stay. We are Marriott Bonvoy Members, have stayed at many of the chain’s other hotels, and have found it to be a solid brand with quality service.

If you’ve made it this far into the post, you’re probably not one of the many Walt Disney World diehards who dismisses the Swolphin out of hand because these hotels are “not Disney.” Those people are making a mistake.

We are big fans of Disney, but don’t think hotel management is one of the company’s strong suits. Marriott definitely has the edge there. To be sure, not everything about the Swan & Dolphin is perfect (the Magic Kingdom bus to TTC is the biggest strike against it) or even great. With that said, our experiences here have generally surpassed those at Disney-owned properties.

Although the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort hotels are not owned by Disney, they are very much on-site hotels. Located on Crescent Lake alongside BoardWalk Inn and Yacht & Beach Club, the Swan & Dolphin are within walking distance of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

With this prime piece of real estate, the Swan & Dolphin actually have a better location (in my estimation) than most Disney-owned hotels. To each their own, but I’d put Crescent Lake right up there with the Magic Kingdom monorail loop.

The Swan & Dolphin also have better on-site perks than most Disney-owned hotels now that Disney’s Magical Express has been retired and so long as the Disney Dining Plan remains suspended. In addition to Early Entry, Swan & Dolphin guests are eligible for Extended Evening Hours, whereas Value and Moderate Resort guests are not.

Unlike other third party hotels that are technically on-site, the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin truly offer the best of both worlds. All of the benefits (for now, at least) of staying in a Disney-owned hotel, plus a rewards program, and better management. About the only thing you’re missing is Disney IP infused into the hotel.

Actually, that’s not true. The other thing you’re missing with the Swan & Dolphin is high prices.

Aside from some anomalies, these hotels are competitively priced, and actually offering discounts right now. (Although many of those have already booked up for October through December.) In general, though, rates are much better at the Swan & Dolphin, especially for those who qualify for an affiliation discount or manage to score a hot deal.

Ultimately, I can’t say I’m super stoked about Rosa Mexicano coming to Walt Disney World, but it should be at least an incremental improvement bringing a new type of cuisine to the Swan & Dolphin. To me, it doesn’t sound like an “exciting” restaurant that I’d go out of my way to try, but not every new addition needs to be.

At this point, the more dining added to Walt Disney World, the better. Fresh Mediterranean Market was underutilized (and for good reason), so this will be an upgrade. With that said, tastes and preferences obviously vary, so perhaps some of you will be very excited about this news!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of Rosa Mexicano Restaurant joining the Walt Disney World dining scene? Think this will be a worthy addition to the culinary landscape around Crescent Lake, or just more noise in an overcrowded market that’s not much different than the Mexican restaurants a short walk away inside EPCOT? Are you excited for this third party offering, or would you prefer some original conceptsDo you agree or disagree with thoughts? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

42 Responses to “New Mexican Restaurant Coming to Disney World”
  1. Dr. Enrique Jimenez Chapa September 26, 2022

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