Lunch Specials at La Fogata, Salinas
- Melanie Wong
A couple weeks ago my parents and I had lunch at La Fogata. Walking up to the front door, my dad stopped suddenly. I thought something was wrong or that he might be feeling dizzy and grabbed ahold of him. Then he asked me what day of the week it was and pointed to the sandwich board sign on the sidewalk promoting day of the week $5.99 lunch specials here! Available every week day is a two enchilada plate, 1/2 order of chile verde, or 1/2 order of chile colorado, plus a different combo plate. On Thursday, the combo is a sope and a mini-chimichanga.
Mom and Dad each ordered the chile verde plate. It was just the right amount for each of them, along with a stack of freshly handmade corn tortillas. Very tender even though somewhat lean chunks of pork bathed in a piquant sauce that veered to the brownish side of green. But with that extra color pickup came more complexity and depth of flavor. The rice is still so-so, however, the beans are lusciously creamy with some bits of near whole beans.
I had the combo plate ordering the sope de carne molida (filled with ground beef and succotash) and the mini-chimichanga filled with more of that delectable chile verde pork. The sope has been one of my favorite bites in a lifetime and I was glad I could snap of photo of it in natural light to show the paper-thin, see-through delicate corn shell. The chimichanga was also very good albeit quite filling with its fried shell and topping of guacamole (and sour cream that I pushed aside). The chile verde filling was laced with melted Monterey jack cheese which added to the richness.
The service was as personable as ever and speedy for the lunch time business crowd. The Okinawan-Mexican owner was away in Japan for vacation, but things were humming along just fine in his absence.
wow! I have *never* seen a sope with a thin shell like that....indeed, I think of them as being defined by the thick base of masa....a little disconcerting, but it certainly looks good, so I think I will stop by Salinas on my way back from Monterey one of these days to check it out...Thanks for the post!
Thanks for bringing this up. El Palomar in Santa Cruz does a sope like this. It is a super thin shell that is deep fried until it puffs and then the top is ripped off (to where it goes I know not) and the fillings are poured in. All of my mexican food books talk about the more common (and more tasty IMO) thicker than a tortilla but with a lip fried masa disc that is topped. I was always curious if their version was a regional variation or something they invented.
re: Nathan P.
don't know, all I know is that I used to snack on sopes all the time after school when I lived in Mexico City, and there and in my travels in other parts of Mexico, I never saw any but the thick masa based type...doesn't mean it isn't regional though: but whether that is regional to a part of Mexico, or regional to Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties: who knows?
Have others seen it elsewhere?
re: Nathan P.
Yes, the shells are fried to order. I'm glad to hear about El Palomar's version. As you can imagine, I've been deeply disappointed when I'm served a warmed over thick sope (aka memela in the Oaxaca region) that's so different from the delicacy I grew up with. I've tried the other fillings here and only the ground beef one suits me. There's something about the lightness of the ground beef with the copious amount of almost lacy shredded cabbage that suits the fragile shell.
A lot of those thick sopes with the lip are factory made, you can see those lumps in plastic bags on the shelves at restaurants and grocers. I can handle a freshly made thick disc of masa in sope or huarache form, but those prefabbed things are disgusting.
re: Melanie Wong
I recently bought a bag of a dozen sope shells,and while I was dissapointed with my efforts at homemade sopes, I took a shell and some filling to work (a restaurant) and had the cook heat the shell on the grill for me (I was going to just send it through the toaster, but it was lunch and was shut down already). It was really very good.
I do like the thicker shells if they're not too doughy or greasy, but will try to stop in Salinas and try one of those crispy ones!
Due to a story about how slow business is for Old Town restaurants and stating that La Fogata would close soon, Mom and I hustled over here for lunch. Fortunately, the reports of closing are wrong, and the owner was happy to see us after a long absence.
The lunch specials are $6.99 now. Mom had the chile verde half-order and I went with the sope with ground beef and chimichanga filled with carne asada. Still satisfying.
Our bill was presented with a complimentary buñuelo. A nice welcome back.