El Fogón is one of those restaurants that looks pretty unassuming. It has simple tables, an open grill area and it advertises itself as a taqueria (taco shop). And to add to the things that could keep you from steering in – this open grill restaurant is located in hot sunny Playa Del Carmen Mexico. It’s not air conditioned and it is smoky. But if you decided to walk on by and forgo a sampling of their tacos, you’d be making a mistake.
El Fogón isn’t exactly a secret in “Playa”, particularly for the locals. And those out-of-towners who have veered slightly off the beaten track to discover this place and come back time after time.
The first thing you notice when wandering by is, beyond the amazing smell of grilling meat, the sight of the Al Pastor vertical rotisserie grill. The gas grill – cousin to the Lebanese shawarma grill, has become a fixture in Mexican cuisine. At El Fogon the skewer is layered with strips of marinated pork and topped with a pineapple that caramelizes and adds extra flavor to the meat as it spins and chars. The resulting meat is joined by onions, cilantro and slices of grilled pineapple in a taco that melts in your mouth. And they won’t burn a hole in your pocket – at about $11 pesos or $0.80 US they are hard to beat.
Looking for more? El Fogon serves up huge platters of marinated grilled meats paired with grilled onions, potatoes, grilled peppers with cheese and guacamole. They also usually come with a fantastic mildly season bean “soup” peppered with bits of smoky salty chicharon. It was something I didn’t think I’d really want the first time I ordered a platter with a lot of food coming on a hot day – I was wrong.
If you are visiting with a crowd you can even have your meats and accompaniments delivered to your table with a mini-grill to cook yourself. And to answer the question that is on your mind right now: yes, they do have a bar.
So don’t be surprised if you find a line of people, waiting in the smoke and heat for a frill-free table, watching the pastor artist slicing and creating each masterpiece taco. Or that after you do it once, that you’ll be tempted again, and again.
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