Sunday, August 1, 2010
5560 Nolensville Pike
Round up the family and head out- it’s time for Sunday lunch. Fogatas Mexican restaurant is bringing those families in with groups of eight and ten. It’s a leisurely affair, as the food comes out when it’s ready, and some people might spend time watching others eat. Why the wait? Perhaps it’s the homemade corn tortillas, and some authentic dishes that might take more time to prepare. Fogatas does an admirable job of picking up where long time favorite El Manjar left off. In fact, the new owners made the wise decision to keep much of the El Manjar menu.
So, what has changed? Most importantly the space: they opened up a wall to add a new, well air conditioned dining room next to the sunny, and often warm, original. The staff keeps things moving as they tackle the lunch rush. The first item to arrive had us worried. The house salsa is watery and lifeless. Luckily, bottles of salsa verde and rojo soon appeared and our spirits were buoyed. The verde is smoky, creamy, spicy and supremely tasty. The rojo has a decent kick. It’s the verde sauce though, that we ate with our chips. The original salsa sat to the side. An order of queso dip was also a little bland. A bit of the spicy rojo brought it up to speed.
Much of the menu is what we here in the states might call authentic Mexican. They do have a few items you don’t see everywhere in Nashville, such as Pambazo (adobe bread and sausage) and Higado Encebollado (liver and onions). Mole poblano is featured in a couple of dishes and not just as a special. Tlacoyos are thick tortillas stuffed with beans and served with grilled nopales cactus. The red, spicy beans contrast with the tangy green salsa. The nopales are served to the side. The grill brings out an excellent flavor. Queso and sour cream round it out for a solid entrée. Zincronizada are tortillas grilled with ham and cheese. It’s a simple dish that hits the spot. The guacamole sauce is light, herby and tastes fresh.
The corn tortillas and the masa rounds for gorditas are made in house. Apparently the flour tortillas come from somewhere else. Thrown on the grill those gorditas have a nice brown and char. The al pastor (seasoned pork) inside is decent and the crumbled queso fresco is a good pairing. The corn tortillas shine with the tacos. The lengua (tongue) had great flavor and a tender texture. The asada (steak) was not as successful, lacking any sign of marinade or seasoning.
Veggie Eater: There’s not a vegetarian section on the menu here, but if you look around you will find a few veggie friendly items. On my first go round, I opted for my one of my all time faves, Enchiladas de Mole. The mole is a smoky, sweet concoction made from roasted Poblanos. The corn tortillas are homemade and almost crepe like in their consistency. They come stuffed with cheese. The next time out of the gate, I asked the waitress for her suggestion. She indicated they could do a veggie burrito for me with grilled veggies. It’s a standard flour burrito chock full of cauliflower, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots. The veggies were well seasoned. The burrito was topped with queso sauce. I opted for my beans and rice on the side, so that they didn’t glop up my veggies. I would actually make a point to drive to south Nashville just to eat here. My mom will be visiting in August and we’ve already planned a tentative lunch date here.
Meat Eater: There were a few misses along with the many hits. Overall, Fogatas is a welcome addition to the Nolensville Road crowd. The name means campfire and I would imagine that brings to mind a place to bring the entire family. Anyone could do that here and feel quite comfortable. Most of the staff speaks good English.
The restaurant is a bit hard to find. It’s in a strip mall tucked away next to the Lowe’s store at Old Hickory Blvd and Nolensville Road. We paid $26 with tax and tip for one visit and $22 on another visit.