Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Discovering a Mexican Diamond in the Suburban Rough

La Fogata
8090 E. Qunicy Ave.
Denver, CO
Visited August 10, 2010

Beer selection: Typical domestic and Mexican imports

Food: Better than expected Mexican dishes

Sometimes, finding a good place to eat isn’t that hard.

Look around at the folks eating there.

Typically, among the people dining at a really good Mexican restaurant will be, well, Mexicans.

Of course if you are the only gringo in the joint, that could be a good sign. (Or it could be a bad sign.)

So by those criteria, La Fogata wasn’t off to a good start.

A tidy little place with a well-flowered outdoor patio near the intersection of I-25 and I-225, this suburban cantina is as about white bread and yuppified as any Mexican restaurant since the Chi-Chi’s chain went out of business.

The only Mexicans at La Fogata were the ones cooking and serving the food.

But what do you expect in what is the vast soulless suburban hell that is south Denver?

As it turns out, you can expect some darn good authentic Mexican food.

My low expectations were exceeded right from the moment I dipped the first chip into La Fogota’s homemade salsa. Too many Mexican restaurants serve up a bland, tomatoey nothing-there kind of salsa.

Not La Fogata.

Their dark, maroon-colored salsa jumps right off the chip and says hello – a vibrant earthy burst of flavor and spice.

It turns out the salsa was a premonition of even better things to come.

My “Toquitos de Carne Adobada” were absolutely delicious, reminiscent of similar marinated pork dishes served up in Santa Fe, though not as spicy. The fork tender pork was smothered in Chorizo sausage-based bright red zesty sauce, with an extra helping of red sauce on the side to pour over the top.

Accompanied by grilled onions, lime wedges, tomatoes and a guacamole salad, it was one of the best Mexican dishes I’ve had in a while.

After I polished off my meal, my only regret was that I couldn’t sit there all afternoon plowing through every dish on the menu, complimented with an endless stream of Negra Modelas.

Alas, the jack-booted bureaucrats at Denver International Airport were waiting for me to justify their pathetic existence.

But I left with something valuable – a reason to look forward to a return trip to the strip malls and cul-de-sacs of south Denver.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt

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