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TMCNet:  The Monitor, McAllen, Texas, Amy Nichol Smith column

[November 09, 2012]

The Monitor, McAllen, Texas, Amy Nichol Smith column

Nov 09, 2012 (The Monitor - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Oh, La Fogata, how I wish your food was as impressive as your service. I wanted so much to enjoy my meal, but the most spectacular bits of food came before any of our entrees.

Maddy and Adam joined me for what we thought would be a classic Mexican meal at the fancy-pants restaurant in Mission.

Freshly made chips and four salsas were served almost immediately. The types of salsa were very familiar -- a creamy, orange dip (tastier than others I've had), a spicy, creamy verde (also very good), a pico de gallo (oddly over-salted) and an oily red chile salsa (spicy, but not flavorful).

I was in the mood for guacamole, so we placed an order while we figured out who was going to try the steak, chicken or fish.

Drinks aren't usually a big deal, but I loved the presentation of Maddy's Topo Chico -- a tall glass had a rim full of salt, lots of ice and was wrapped in a napkin. Nice touch, La Fogata.

A plate of DIY guacamole quickly arrived -- three scoops of fresh, chunky avocado with spoonfuls of diced tomato, onion and jalapenos. I kind of like the do-it-yourself approach so I can make my portion of the guac as spicy, onion-y or tomato-y as I want it. And I'm glad they gave us so much, especially since I hardly ate any of my meal.

My Spanish is terrible. Adam's is only slightly better. Maddy's is decent. We still weren't quite sure what kind of fish I ordered, but our server assured us it was very good. I'm adventurous. I've eaten all sorts of weird things. And I'd be willing to bet all those questionable items I've eaten were tastier than the bland white fish I was served at La Fogata. The rice wasn't very good either. The roasted potatoes were OK. I settled for the leftover guacamole and asked for more chips.

Adam's chicken looked like it would be packed with flavor -- anything that red HAS to, right Negative. Very little seasoning was used for that chicken breast. Without salt and pepper, the other spices just don't have the same oomph.

The steak Maddy ordered seemed a little more promising because, well, it's steak, but it was also disappointing. It wasn't properly seasoned, and the fat hadn't cooked down, so it was chewy and unappetizing.

Maybe they had the B team working the kitchen for lunch, and dinner is better -- I don't know. I hear mixed reviews on the place all the time. It's worth a visit to La Fogata for drinks, apps and extremely attentive and professional service, though.

(La Fogata, 300 N. Shary Road, Mission; (956) 584-8143) ___ (c)2012 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas) Visit The Monitor (McAllen, Texas) at www.themonitor.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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