There is a new taqueria in town, El Fogoncito, and it is yet another chain from Mexico City. They have a few locations around town and their newest one, the most ambitious in terms of actual real estate occupied is located at the entrance to the brand-smacking new Altabrisa Mall, located in, um, Altabrisa.
For those of you not from the area, Altabrisa is the newest area to be developed commercially in Merida, and it’s all new. There’s some higher end residential areas, the Altabrisa Mall built by the Gran Plaza people, the Star Medica hospital, the huge IMSS hospital and more. Car dealerships have all built spectacular outlets along the Altabrisa route, which is the street that winds its way from Plaza Fiesta (remember that mall!!?!?!) to the periférico and eventually Cholul.
A lunch at the Fogoncito on opening day left much to be desired. While the tacos are good, they are tacos and you can get a great taco anywhere, really. The ‘chiste‘ or what makes or breaks a taco place, is the service, the salsas and the location. Here the Fogoncito, on their first day open, fell flat on their face. Service was spotty, with one section of the table (there were 10 people) getting their food order taken and actually getting their food before the other half even got the waiter’s attention. The food came out in spurts (sounds disgusting, sorry) and everyone got something different from what they ordered which turned out to be a simple case of the wrong dish for the wrong person. Once that was cleared up, everyone got what they ordered. Wait staff (lots of different people) came and went, reaching across people to pick up dirty dishes and used paper napkins, setting down drinks beside the coaster that was waiting for the glass to be set on it. Much confusion all around in spite of the fact that there were about 30 to 40 wait staff people in the whole restaurant; it seemed that only 3 or 4 actually had any training before the doors opened.
The salsas? Completely unremarkable, most tasted like something you might get by opening a bottle or a tin. The food was alright, nothing to really write home about. The Critic had a selection of tacos on a platter, all of which were fine, but again, nothing special. The grilled cheese (a crispy flat roll – it’s supposed to be that way) served as an appetizer was indeed crispy but besides salty, devoid of flavor. The guacamole was good but some of the tortilla chips were soft, and mixed in with others that were crisp, which makes one suspect all kinds of unpleasant things involving leftover tortillas chips and… Soft tortilla chips is a deal breaker in a taco place. I mean, really.
One thing that the Critic found really delicious was the horchata. Served with ice and with cinnammon sprinkled on top, it was, ITCHO (in the Critic’s Humble Opinion) the perfect consistency and flavor.
On a scale of 1-5, the Fogoncito, this one at least, gets a 2. Don’t bother wasting your time, calories or pesos here just yet. Let’s wait a few months and see if things improve.