Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out for October...Featuring La Fogata Mexican Cuisine

This month's featured restaurant for The Weekend Gourmet Dines Out is La Fogata, a well-known and popular San Antonio landmark for Tex-Mex cuisine. La Fogata opened in 1978 and keeps legions of hungry patrons coming back thanks to a proven combination: award-winning margaritas, spicy fire-roasted salsa, authentic Tex-Mex food and a gorgeous setting. La Fogata is a peaceful tropical oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the city -- the perfect place to relax and unwind over a margarita (...or two) and some authentic Tex-Mex menu classics! 
They recently invited Michael and I to dinner to try some of their most popular menu items and share the experience with you. We walked into the restaurant's large, lush tropical courtyard and were immediately transported from the city to a tropical paradise... complete with a gorgeous bubbling fountain! We were warmly greeted by our hostess and shown to our table. While we looked over the menu, a server quickly brought out warm tortilla chips and spicy house-made salsa for us to munch on while we mulled over our margarita options. Based on the manager's suggestion, we opted for the very delicious -- and potent -- blood orange margarita. Their margarita presentation is the prettiest in the city in my opinion, complete with a gorgeous orchid garnish! We paired our margaritas with queso flameado, one of their signature appetizers. If you've never had this classic dish, it's melted Mexican white cheese with spicy chorizo sausage...flamed tableside with tequila. The cheese and sausage mixture is rolled up inside pillow-soft flour tortillas before being eaten.
While we enjoyed our gooey queso and delicious queso flameado, we looked over the dinner entrees and tried to decide what to order. Once again, the manager came to our rescue and provided us with some fantastic suggestions. Michael is a beef lover, so that quickly narrowed his selection, but I couldn't make up my mind. Thank goodness they have a perfect option for indecisive foodies: their Un Poquito de Todo platter...which translates to "a little bit of everything." 

This platter definitely lives up to its name, featuring a beef taco al carbon; a chicken flauta topped with sour cream, avocado and cheese; a quesadilla; and a cheese enchilada. They also brought me a cochinita de pibil taco to try, which is a Yucatan taco filled with spicy shredded pork. It's served in a soft corn tortilla with red onions and a slice of creamy avocado. The food was all tasty and perfectly seasoned, especially the quesadilla and the gooey cheese enchilada topped with a spicy meat gravy.
Michael selected the grilled Carne Tampiquena platter, with a side of spicy grilled shrimp. The meat is charcoal-grilled skirt steak served with creamy guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, Mexican rice, borracho beans and La Fogata's signature grilled green onions. Michael said the meat was perfectly tender and juicy...perfect for rolling up into fajita tacos. 
We were getting pretty full by then, but the manager said we had to give their house specialty guava empendada a try. We discovered guava empenadas during our trip to New York this Spring, so we were excited to find a local restaurant that serves this tangy fruit! The empenada is stuffed with guava and cream cheese, fried golden brown and sprinkled with powdered sugar. A side of Mexican vanilla ice cream was the perfect addition for this shared dessert. We loved the combination of crispy empanada crust and the creamy, tangy filling. 
We thanked the manager for his hospitality and menu suggestions and headed for home. On the way back to our car, we decided to walk around the beautiful outdoor courtyard area one more time. After a long, hot Summer, we really enjoyed the early Fall breeze that was blowing that evening. The restaurant and its grounds are quite large -- nearly 3 city blocks! They also feature talented strolling mariachis, who serenade diners both indoors and in the outside patio area. Many diners actually prefer to eat in La Fogata's picturesque, colorful outdoor seating area...especially during the cooler months. While they dine, they can enjoy a nice breeze and the relaxing courtyard view.

Disclosure: La Fogata provided us with a complimentary dinner to facilitate this feature. We received no further compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own. All photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia and may not be reprinted or otherwise used without prior permission.

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