Mexican Findings in San Antonio
The most important thing you need to know: if at all possible sit outside at one of the tables that overlook the Riverwalk. Unless you hate pigeons.
I'd brave scores of pigeons to do so, though. The inside of this place is just... this is going to sound insane but it reminds me of ice rink cafeterias (I spent a lot of time in these in the 80s. My brother played hockey. Don't judge) - at least the dining area. The bar area is has a bit more Mexican flair but, seriously, outside is where it's at.
And glorious it is! My boyfriend and I were walking the path below when we looked up and spied what appeared to be the perfect scenario looming up, up and above the mini cliff. It was 5pm, over 100 degrees and frozen margaritas were calling our name.
Upon sitting down, we were presented with quite the HH menu, which included those frozen margies. I'm not usually one for fruit margaritas, but I tried the raspberry first, found it AOK but then moved on to plain, with salt, which was even better. Chips and salsa are surprisingly meh - mucho salt needed on the chips and the salsa was strangely bland yet spicy, but their guac is on point!
At first we were the only ones on the patio, but then a lot of Mexican families showed up, which made me of course think that the food is probably better than it looks/sounds, judging from what appears to be a very basic menu and the pale color palate as revealed by the biz pics. We had dinner plans much later and the menu really didn't make me wish otherwise, I gotta be honest.
And then came the pigeons. It was comical, because some older dude, who I presume was the manager, kept coming out with a wet towel to fling at them, which really didn't do much at all. Really, what are you gonna do? I was fine with dining avec pigeons, but be warned, these were some grabby birds. I think I spied an actual human fighting with one of them over a tortilla, but that could have been the influence of the second margarita.
Sublime patio dining + a menu full of Mexican favorites on the upscale including... oh yes, queso. Yes, I went there. Lord have mercy, but queso was on the brain as soon as I crossed the Louisiana/TX boarder and queso was to be had come hell or high water. Although La Fonda's comes with meat (chorizo, I think), we just asked them to leave it off. It was good. It was great. It was queso. I mean, can queso ever be bad? Don't answer that question.
On this sultry-hot evening, although I was determined to eat Mexican food, I was also a bit worried that I'd do my typical "overdoing it" when it comes to Mexican (seriously, I cannot help myself but overindulge. Control, woman!) The first trick to avoid this was to choose outdoor seating. Hard to overdo when it's that warm out. To this end, I was undecided between several non meat options on the menu and settled on the Enchiladas de Espinacas. These are incredibly light! Oh and delicious. Hello, clean plate club. The emphasis is way more on the vegetables (spinach, mushroom and sun dried tomatoes which was a non typical and fantastic addition!) than on the cheese that you'd typically expect out of an enchilada. Oh, have no fear if this is what you want-- there's an entire menu of enchiladas, several more traditional.
I so appreciated the refined version of what is a typically heavy-yet-delicious Mexican favorite. Now, I want to go back to La Fonda for more, more more! Only I'm about 600 miles away. I may have returned home fully queso'd out after 2 days in San Antonio, but I'm already counting the days until my return.
La Fogata is exactly the type of restaurant a visitor like me would be looking for, say if I had only a night or two in town to experience some good Mexican food & margaritas in a fun, old school setting! (yes, there will be mariachi).
That you're not going to find blowing or unique takes on traditional fare shouldn't come as a surprise. I mean, look at the sprawling estate with fountains, statues and fire! It's the Grand Prospect Hall of San Antonio (do a Google search--it's in Brooklyn. You won't be disappointed. If you're too lazy, try and conjure up images of a Greek diner on Long Island). It's over the top and quite earnestly so. Sometimes that's just what you're in the mood for, ie they won't sneer at you for getting the most girly frozen drink ever, either. In fact, they might even suggest it. Even if you're a dude.
There's definitely some fair vegetarian choices, and my enchiladas were as good as any I've had before. Of the tableside guac, I will say it's the stuff of even the most jaded yelper's dreams (I swear I never heard of table side guac before Yelp and still wonder if the fuss - to say nothing of the high price - is even warranted). Your waiter will likely be an older gent that is a pro... and quite convincing when it comes to the need for second and third margaritas. And then... then... you might find yourself considering a splash in one of those grand fountains La Dolce Vita-style.