Fogon in Scottsdale: Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches and Steak Fajitas
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Lauren Saria Steak fajitas
Restaurant: Fogon Mexican Eatery
Lauren Saria Inside Fogon
Location: 7001 North Scottsdale Road, #147
Open: Just over a week
Eats: Upscale Mexican
Price: $30+ per person
When you first hear the idea "Benihana-style Mexican food," you probably have one of two reactions. Either you think it's a horrible, gimmicky concept or you think, "Well, it might be cool."
(Your reaction is likely to depend on how you feel about onion steam engines and beating hearts of fried rice.)
But when you really stop and consider it, it's not such a far-fetched idea. After all, a lot of Mexican food already is cooked on a grill, so why not just do it in front of the guests to add theatrics to the experience? At least that's what first-time restaurant owner Daniel Correa was thinking when he opened Fogon Mexican Eatery.
The stylish restaurant looks exactly how you would expect a Mexican restaurant in an upscale Scottsdale strip mall to look. There's a spacious outdoor patio with comfortable lounge chairs and a fancy fire pit, as well as a small but well-appointed bar just inside the entryway. Hand-painted tile murals wrap around the walls, giving a nice touch of traditional décor to the otherwise modern design.
Lauren Saria One of the eight grill stations at Fogon.
Throughout the dining room, you'll find four cooking stations, each of which is equipped with two grills and an oven. The tables branch out from the central area with two grills and an oven, but they don't actually connect. That means you don't have to share your dinner experience with strangers, as is common at other grill-in-front-of-you restaurants. On the other hand, this also means the experience is much less showy -- in short, you're not going to see anything like Benihana's famous chef tricks.
Though Fogon's menus are extremely large -- and we mean that literally, as in they're printed on comically large pieces of wood and covered in plastic -- the selection of appetizers and entrées isn't that extensive. We chose to start with an order of the Guacamole Fresco ($10) and a couple of the signature margaritas.
Lauren Saria Raspberry Ginger Margarita
Our chef whipped up a sizable bowl of guacamole at the grill station and even stopped to ask if we'd like it "mild" or "hot." We requested "medium" but were surprised at how heavy-handed he was with the heat. We told him so, and he immediately made a new batch. Dialing back on the heat helped, but it didn't save the woefully under-spiced starter. Somehow, the combination of avocado, tomato, cilantro, onion, and chile tasted no better than something we could have made at home.
The cocktails fared better. The raspberry ginger margarita ($12) was a nicely tart take on the Mexican classic, made with Don Julio Blanco, raspberries, lime juice, simple syrup, and ginger liqueur. Even the horchata margarita ($10.50), which we'll admit we ordered out of curiosity, wasn't half-bad. The housemade horchata, simple syrup, and chocolate bitters didn't overpower the tequila, resulting in a boozy but flavorful drink.
Lauren Saria Fogon's tableside guacamole