RESTAURANT REVIEW: Zona Rosa

Zona Rosa, located in the heart of Kemp Town, is the new venture of business partners Nick Roberts and Carlo Torre.

Carlo Torre and Nick Roberts

Carlo Torre and Nick Roberts

Open seven days a week, Zona Rosa operates as a conventional café during the day, serving coffee and cakes, then in the late afternoon switches to a restaurant serving traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist, using fresh, local ingredients and flavour combinations, all served in a colourful, friendly setting in a unique relaxed atmosphere.

The restaurant gets its name from a district in Mexico’s capital which is known for its multicultural communities, bohemian atmosphere, appeal to creatives, and where its LGBT+ community is focussed. It’s one of Mexico City’s barrios mágicos (magical neighbourhoods).

Open seven days a week, Zona Rosa operates as a conventional café during the day, serving coffee and cakes, then in the late afternoon switches to a restaurant serving traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist, using fresh, local ingredients and flavour combinations, all served in a colourful, friendly setting in a unique relaxed atmosphere..

The restaurant gets its name from a district in Mexico’s capital which is known for its multicultural communities, bohemian atmosphere, appeal to creatives, and where its LGBT+ community is focussed. It’s one of Mexico City’s barrios mágicos (magical neighbourhoods).

Head chef, Nick Roberts, brings an impressive pedigree to the table having worked in London at Harrods, The Groucho Club, and The Terrence Conran Group. Since moving to Brighton he’s been head chef at Brighton Rocks and more recently the Independent. Nick is passionate about his food and spent much of the last six months researching and creating this new menu for Zona Rosa. He is meticulous and leaves nothing to chance. His dishes are sometimes complex but never without flavour. My best advice is to ask for help navigating the menu on your first visit. All the usual Mexican favourites such as tamales, quesadillas, and burritos are featured but there are many hidden treasures on this menu that are easily overlooked. Ask your waiter, he will be happy to talk you through and help you discover them.

Better still try one of the three Taster selection menus Uno (£24.50), Dos (£30) and Tres (£36.50). I chose the Tres selection menu which included: Pork pibil tacos; mollett; cerviche tostada; pineapple, red onion, chilli, coriander and cheese Quesadilla, roast sweet potato with chilli lime salt, toasted cornbread, berries and vanilla cream. An orgy of new flavours, beautifully presented and the first time some of these dishes had travelled across my tongue. Highly recommended for first timers.

My husband ordered the Land & Sea (£9.95): grilled steak and prawn, refried beans, green rice, salsa, sour cream, cheese and avocado wrapped in a flour taco, beautifully seasoned, flavoured and very filling.

We washed everything down with a Michelada, Mexican beer with lime hot sauce, worcester sauce and tomato juice with a spiced salt rim which perfectly complemented the food. Zone Rosa boasts an impressive drinks menu and keep a full bar stocked with a selection of speciality Mexican drinks including tequilas, margaritas, daiquiris, and nonalcoholic choices such as horchata, Jarritos sodas, and tropical fruit smoothies. They stock branded spirits and soft drinks, their own house wine and aguas frescas, each flavoured with a different mix of fruits.

Zone Rosa offer an abundance of vegetarian and gluten-free options to eat in or take away. There is vibrant basement area which can be booked in advanced for larger groups or parties and outside they have a comfortable seating area with distant sea views which will come into its own during warmer months.

Roast sweet potato with chilli lime salt


Zona Rosa,
24 Garnet House, College Road, Brighton
For reservations call: 01273 818819

Opening hours:
Monday–Friday: 8am–9pm
Saturday: 8.30–10pm
Sunday: 8.30am–2.30pm

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