Prior to moving to San Antonio, one of my good friends and owner of Giorgio’s in Lubbock, told me that I absolutely had to go to La Fogata. He said that it was one of his favorites of San Antonio with good food and margaritas that would put you on the floor. For the past five and a half years I have enjoyed going to La Fogata and realized that I hadn’t blogged about it.
La Fogata is located off of Vance Jackson and has the feel of being a neighborhood restaurant. Parking used to be a pain as their tiny lot would fill and patrons had to park in the neighborhood (some home owners would place orange cones in front of their houses to try to keep people from crowding their street). A year or two ago, the restaurant purchased a couple of houses across the street that they tore down to make an overflow parking lot that has alleviated much of the pain.
While there is limited indoor seating, the reason to go to La Fogata is to sit on the patio. You will enter the patio through a huge wooden door that was once the entrance to a hacienda built in the 1880s in Mexico. The patio has a lot of neon lights, so there is a soft blueish-pink glow. No matter when you go there will be a wait, but don’t worry, grab a margarita from the bar and sit by the fountain while you wait for your name to be called.
I always have enjoyed the house margarita (it is on my Margarita Foodspotting Guide for San Antonio) because it is pretty big, more tart than sugary sweet, and poured by a heavy handed bartender. My girlfriend decided to go with the frozen raspberry margarita that came with a test tube of Grand Marnier inside it (I have no clue why they didn’t mix it in). I have to say, I was impressed by her fruity margarita and stole more than one sip from it.
Their chips and salsa are some of the best in town with a roasted salsa that is a dark red color and a smokey flavor. This is my dad’s favorite salsa and I will stop by HEB on the way out of town to pick him up several jars. On each visit to La Fogata I will go through two of the bowls of salsa myself because it is so tasty.
La Fogata is one of those places that you have to get an appetizer. I like to get either the queso flameado which they light on fire at your table side, guacamole a mano which is also prepared fresh at your table, but this time I opted for the rajas chile poblano (a lot of places might call it rajas con crema). This appetizer is a bowl of poblano peppers and onions sauteed with white and cream cheese. You scoop the mixture on a tortilla and it is really rich.
For my main course, I went with the Tacos Norteños which is crispy tortillas filled with refried beans, cheese, and beef fajita meet and is cook on the grill. The tacos are topped with cabbage, tomatoes, and slices of avocados. They use a lot of fajita meat in these tacos so you definitely get your money’s worth. While the borracho beans are amazing, the Mexican rice is not all that good. They have improved it since my last visit, but still, it is so-so at best; this is the only drawback to the meal.
The best part, however, is the fact that there will always be mariachis roaming around waiting to serenade you and your table. Since moving to San Antone, I have found a special place in my heart for mariachis and if they are around, I have to get them to play a song. If you are an out-of-towner, do a little research and suggest something besides La Bamba; some of my favorites include Guadalajara, Rancho Grande, El Mariachi, and Volver. However, since I was with that special someone, I asked them to play Tu Solo Tu.
If you are in town and looking for that quintessential San Antonio experience, La Fogata will treat you right. Have a designated driver, a healthy appetite, and $10 for the mariachis.
Value: 9/10 (the margaritas are a little pricey (and you might have more than one during your wait) but the food is reasonable)
Atmosphere: 10/10 (the best patio in town; the way it is set up takes you out of reality and into a fantasy land with a huge fountain and neon glow filled with food, friends, and tequila)
Service: 8/10 (they are usually swamped so the service can be a little slow)
Salsa: 10/10 (amazing salsa; if you are a visitor, you can find jars of it at HEB)
Taste: 9.5/10 (so good! I just wish that they could bring it with the rice!)