Earlier this week we were invited to the "mock service" at Arlington's newest dining hotspot, FUEGO Cocina y Tequileria (www.FuegoVa.com) in Clarendon at 2800 Clarendon Blvd. served up by that wonderful PassionFood Hospitality Group (DC Coast, Ceiba, Acadiana, District Commons, etc..).
The dining room is upstairs with a large bar area downstairs as well, all with tall ceilings and very open airy space. There is a large private dining area behind a see through steel beaded curtain and the kitchen is open as well separated by long "rope" pillars from the dining area. As the name FUEGO is "fire" one small wall of the dining room has a flaming glass-enclosed fire in it!
As we perused the huge menu Samuel declared he would like the non-alcoholic "Queen of the Pacific" made from agave, lemon-lime, mint and strawberry puree. It was a hit, but a bit pricey for a small kid's non-alcoholic drink. The "Mala Suerte" was habanero-infused tequila with triple sec grapefruit, lime and a sugar rim, but came with no habanero, sugar rim, and I felt tequila as well. A second one arrived after a while for a replacement and had a peppered rim as requested (sugar seemed to much for me). Will went for the high end "El Perfecto" Margarita of Tres Generaciones Plata Tequila, Patron Citronage, Lime, Agave Nectar and a salt rim; it was nice, but I think the plain ones would be just as fine. There are dozens and dozens of tequila by the glass (also many by flights of 3 for a fabulous $13!) and over two dozen each of red and white wines as well by the glass. We were bowled over by the earthy intensity of a 16% alcohol EARTHQUAKE 2010 ZINFANDEL with a berry hint and coffee finish from Lodi that works brilliantly with many of the spicy salsas.
Superb chips arrive with a tomatillo salsa (milder) and a rojo that has a kick, but Samuel declared the GUACAMOLE with serrano and lime some of the best around; I must agree. He went on to an order of Chicken TACOS...there are many taco options and two to an order allow you to share and taste many. They come with small soft tortilla shells and loaded with meat. There are 3 salsas on each plate: habanero(very hot), tomatillo and rojo. Mixing these can give you different flavors as well. We tried the BIRRIA TACOS of Jalisco style roasted Goat which were superb; next time I must go for the LENGUA, as I adore tongue!
COCTEL de MARISCOS is a nice starter but intense on the spicy tomato cocktail sauce. Shrimp, tender Octopus, Tilapia and Salmon abound with the salsa and avocado.
Choosing dishes was hard, so we went with our trusty server Seth's suggestions. For main courses we chose the ENCHILADA de MARISCO a lighter version of the usually heavily sauced Mexican dish here full of shrimp, crab and a 1/2 lobster tail to boot on the plate all with a Salsa Chile de Arbol. This is a top notch dish and won't send you home overly full as well. The CARNITAS come in a miniature copper pot and the slow fried pork is divine. You can wrap it in the small housemade corn tortillas and again choose from the multiple salsas on the side. Side dishes here are not to be ignored although the Hongos, sauteed seasonal mushrooms, could have used some extra seasoning. The Platanos Machos are tequila glazed plantains with a dash of Latin Crema and are decadent and rich, while the YUCA FRITA with Chile Garlic Mayo dip will beat any good fry in town!
Desserts here are tasty and varied with a yummy Fresh Lime & Coconut Tart with Passion Fruit Caramel or should you need more carbs go for the excellent Sopaipillas with a Canela Caramel Agave Nectar dipping suace, decadence at its best!
We all had a great time and know we will go back to FUEGO to enjoy the oh so many wonderful dishes and wines!