Who: Media folks, PR peeps, and food lovers
What: Rojo Mexican Grill Preview Party
When: Friday, August 20, 2010
Where: The Shops at West End, St. Louis Park
Why: To celebrate the opening of West End’s newest culinary haunt
Attending a party at the Shops at West End is a uniquely fun and refreshing experience. It’s not just about the abundant free parking, the wide streets, and bright storefronts. Falling in step with the retail complex’s Recession? What recession? swagger almost makes one forget about a wheezing housing market, bleak jobless claim numbers, the growing debt crisis overseas, and—wait, hold on. Did someone say free margaritas?
Media folks, PR peeps, and foodies poured into the new Rojo Mexican Grill for its VIP preview party on Friday night. The sticky August weather dictated a dress code of pretty, airy dresses and open-toe shoes, and largely pushed the party to the air-conditioned splendor of the restaurant’s spacious, dark wood interior. Once the sun began to set, however, revelers spilled out to the sidewalk patio seating for some schmoozing and boozing al fresco . Top 40 tunes set the upbeat mood, and a fun-loving, well-connected crowd kept the place buzzing with activity.
Since this was a restaurant opening, food was the main draw, and Rojo definitely did not disappoint. Activity surged around a bountiful buffet of small plates and salads, and waiters maintained the feeding frenzy atmosphere with near-constant offerings of hors d’oeuvres big and small. We chowed on thin slices of chorizo flatbread pizza, refreshing fish tacos topped with slaw, pulled pork quesadillas, churros dipped in fresh whipped cream and chocolate, corn on the cob, and delicious, fresh guacamole accompanied by delectably salty tortilla chips. The event’s signature cocktail, a strawberry-jalapeno margarita, was a sweet and spicy treat—the perfect accompaniment to a parade of crowd-pleasing dishes.
I’ll leave any expert commentary on the food and drink offerings to Mpls.St.Paul colleague and chowhound-in-chief Steph March, who we found fresh back from vacay holding court near the bar with our favorite clean-plate-club representative, Jason DeRusha. For our part, my always-ravenous plus-one and I left the party feeling satisfied, and our big plans for a post-Rojo jaunt to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill fell apart; the idea of staring down a mason jar full of beer was too daunting.
If the current buzz at the area’s other restaurants is any indication, Rojo’s outlook looks bright; I’m picturing enjoying a appetizers and margaritas before a trip to the movies, or a guacamole pit stop after an afternoon of digging through the sales racks at Anthropologie. After a night out at West End, it’s easy to feel optimistic about the future.