More is better at this new eatery
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Jan. 11, 2008
Fuegos7600 N. Lamar Ste. F, 524-1164
Monday-Thursday: 9am-9pm; Friday-Saturday: 9am-10pm; Sunday: noon-9pm
Rarely am I this giddy after trying a new restaurant, but several trips to Fuegos have me recommending it to complete strangers on the street. Open for almost a year, Fuegos is the dream project of Maria and Felipe Llanes, who earned their chops working in restaurants in Laguna Beach, Calif., and at two hotels here in Austin. The manager/waitperson is daughter Lyanne, a charming dynamo who efficiently covers the front. The menu is a mix of Mexican and California beach cuisine, and the prime directive is freshness.
On the first visit we decided on the wonderful grilled ahi sandwich ($9.50), a nice slab of sushi-grade tuna cooked perfectly medium-rare, topped with Swiss cheese, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts, on a buttery grilled bun slathered with jalapeño tartar sauce. It comes with a large side of crisp Caesar salad, to make a delightful combo. We also had the excellent fish tacos ($10.50), three corn tortillas topped with fresh red snapper and cabbage salad, with a side of rich refried beans and savory rice.
A side order of their hand-breaded, spiced onion rings ($2.25) satisfied, as did superlative al pastor and cochinita pibil tacos ($1.75). The two salsas are red (made from guajillo and rojo de arbol chiles) and green (made from jitomate and serrano). For dessert we sampled a Lemon Ricotta Pancake from the breakfast menu ($5.95 for four, with fresh fruit): lemony, rich, and light.
A second trip had Ray Tatum and I splitting the day's special, crab enchiladas ($10.95), filled with lots of sweet, fresh crabmeat and cheese, topped with a rich and spicy red sauce of guajillo and tomato, served with beans and rice. We sampled fantastic carne asada and beef fajita tacos ($1.75) and loved them. We split a massive barbecue chicken salad ($7.95) of crisp greens with chunks of sweet apple, Gorgonzola cheese, peanuts, and fresh corn, topped with a nice dressing made from a blend of ranch and barbecue sauce – an amazing blend of flavors.
We halved a Fat Burger ($8.50): a half-pound, hand-formed chuck patty cooked to-order, with Swiss cheese, bacon, avocado, grilled onions, pickles, ripe tomato, and romaine, on a bun with Thousand Island dressing, served with hand-cut fries. This is a serious burger, and one of the best in town. We were seduced into trying the flan ($3.75), which is richer than most from the addition of cream cheese and superb.
Fuegos is in a small stone strip center, directly across the street, and due west of Kim Phung Restaurant on the northwest corner of Morrow and North Lamar (if you come from the north, stay on the access road). The interior is simply decorated and impeccably spotless, with an open, gleaming kitchen. Service is first-rate, and portions are more than generous. Until they get their beer and wine permit, BYOB is welcomed.
They have a small, yellow flier that hints at many more dishes, and Lyanne tells us that the menu will be expanded in about a month, but we still have a whole list of treats to sample, like the Blackened Shrimp Caesar Wraps and the campechana seafood cocktail. All we can say is more is better, with a very enthusiastic "¡Viva Fuegos!"
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