Rollies Mexican Patio brings fun, modern Mexican to South 12th Avenue

With neighbors such as Percherones, Taco Fish, BK Tacos, and El Guero Canelo, it takes more than solid tacos and Sonoran hot dogs to stand out on South 12th Avenue. Newcomer Rollies Mexican Patio respects traditional cuisine of the region with fun, modern interpretations sure to be a hit.

The 12,000-square-foot space previously housed El Jalapeño Cocina Mexicana. The 55 seats are all in a semi-outdoor patio room with sliding garage doors, string lights, and space heaters for a cozy, casual feel. Mexican art and teal-painted accents keep the vibe fun. Customers order from a window before sitting down at one of the wooden or stainless steel tables.

While Rollies is currently open to the public via soft opening, its official grand opening is Saturday, December 30.

Owner and chef Mateo Otero began his culinary career at El Minuto at age 18, then worked the kitchens of Casino Del Sol Resort and Sir Veza’s Kitchen & Kantina. Most recently, he focused on cooking for a sorority at the University of Arizona and his own catering business. His personal background with the South 12th Avenue area is what brought him back.

“I’m from this area,” Otero said. “I went to St. John’s church school from kindergarten up to seventh grade. I have a lot family in this area and my grandfather was a chef here down the street.”

Shrimp Flats at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Shrimp Flats at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Going after Mexican cuisine with a modern feel, Otero created a menu with his personal take on classics. Don’t miss out on the Flats, or flat enchiladas, made with a gordita-like masa base. Those with a sweet tooth should order the Cochi Ice Cream Sandwich, which features ice cream between two Mexican cookies shaped like cute little pigs.

Rollies Mexican Patio Menu Highlights

  • Rollies Tacos (3 for $6.50 or 5 for $8.50) – choose chicken, beef, or cauliflower, then rojo sauce or queso sauce
    Rojo sauce topped with cabbage, crema, pickled onion, cotija cheese
    Queso sauce topped with green onion, crema, roasted green chile
  • “Barrio Hipster” Veggie Torta ($7.25) – roasted zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Monterey Jack cheese
  • “Picoso” Torta ($8) – fried chicken tossed with Sonoran chile rub, habanero coleslaw, pickled onions
  • Shrimp Flats (Flat Enchiladas, $8.50)  – red sauce, cabbage, onions, cilantro, green onions, queso fresco, crema, green olive
  • Pibil Rolla (Burro, $6.75, add $2 for bacon-wrapped) – roasted corn, red onion, tomato, avocado, cotija cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro lime dressing
  • Cochi Ice Cream Sandwich ($4.50) – topped with cajeta, nuts
Interior at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Interior at Rollies Mexican Patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Operating hours will be 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Rollies Mexican Patio is located at 4573 S. 12th Ave. Keep up with Rollies Mexican Patio on Facebook.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.