Fuego Cocina & Tequileria Brunch

Sometimes, you just need a girls’ day. Occasionally, you’ll even trek out to Virginia to have it. Sophie and I spend quite a bit of time together hot-trotting and bopping to events, parties, charity galas and the like around town. So, it’s always nice when we get some quality time together sitting down.

Fuego Cocina invited me in for brunch, so I invited Miss Sophie, on the precondition she allow me to drag her to the movies after. Kids movie or not, Oz starring James Franco mustn’t be missed.

Fuego Cocina is enormous and brand-spankin’ new, and it’s located on the main drag of Courthouse in Arlington where everything is brand new, stucco, and orange. As Fievel would say, “Courthouse, where the buildings are orange and the streets are filled with strollers.”

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The restaurant is owned by the Passion Food Group, which owns Acadiana, Ceiba, District Commons, and a few more. Oddly enough, that same day, the co-Bitch was over at District Commons for a rowdy bottomless brunch before tooling around the Cherry Blossoms.

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Following the waiter’s recommendation, I opted for the traditional mimosa over the mimosa special, which he said was rather sweet. (Unfortunately, bottomless isn’t allowed in Virginia).

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Meanwhile, Sophie had the Bloody Mary, which looked a bit thin and watered down on first blush. However, after sampling, she said the ratio of ingredients was excellent, but it could have used more accoutrements, arriving solely with a slice of cucumber on the rim. We Bitches like our Bloody Marys accessorized.

As this is a Mexican restaurant, we started with complimentary chips and two salsas, and an order of guacamole. The salsas were fresh and spicy, so major bonus points there.

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Sophie says, “I liked how large the guac appetizer was and immediately felt bad for the poor soul that had to slice up all those avocados for us. It was my first time having Mexican for brunch, and it will not be the last!”

Like the space, the menu at Fuego Cocina is enormous, with plenty of options, from tacos to more traditional brunch dishes, to choose from.

Sophie and I absolutely love tuna tartare, so we leaped upon the Ahi Tuna Tartare Tacos. They arrived beautifully presented, with fresh raw tuna nestled into little cups of tortilla chips, topped with a dollop of guacamole, queso fresco, and a slice of red onion. The plate was drizzled with a creamy red chipotle-esque salsa, Salsa de Arbol.

“The Ahi Tuna Tartare tacos were as fun to look at as they were to eat,” adds Sophie.

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The second appetizer was the vegetarian empanadas, which basically made my life complete. Raised in Argentina and converted to pescetarianism in 2007, empanadas are my favorite food, and I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to locate vegetarian ones.

These petite empanadas were fried crispy and filled with squash, corn, mushrooms, Huitlacoche, and goat cheese. They were served with a green avocado mole style dipping sauce, but flavorful enough on their own.

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Throughout the meal, the service was a bit overly attentive, but the large restaurant was not full and my large DSLR camera was fairly obvious.

Sophie and I ordered tacos, two per order, and you can mix-and-match. For Sophie, the pollo, and the al pastor, marinated pork with a pineapple salsa. She said both tacos were good, but neither stuck out as particularly memorable.

I had the baja, a traditional-style fish taco with crispy fried tilapia, cabbage and lime crema. Next up, more squash for me with the calabaza taco, with well-seasoned roasted squash. This was one of the better tacos I’ve eaten. Unfortunately, there was far too much food for me to eat it all.

The tacos are served in charming little metal trays, with three dipping sauces: salsa roja, salsa verde, and spicy habanero. Beautifully presented yet again.

Last but not least, we concluded with the Latin-style French toast, served with agave nectar syrup and pineapples. I was surprised by how good this dish was: the toast was thick, fluffy, crispy on the outside, moist and eggy on the inside. It was covered in the pineapple agave syrup, which I was also surprised that I liked. We had to tear ourselves away from the table as we were off to see the Wizard, also known as James Franco (swoon) in Oz.

One nice thing I will say about Virginia is that the movie theaters have recliner seats, enabling you to lean back, prop your feet up, and let belly and body rest after a gluttonous brunch.

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All in all, the ambiance leaves something to be desired, but that’s likely because I’m a snotty D.C. Bitch. The food was really quite good, we enjoyed everything, particularly the empanadas, tuna and French toast. Frankly, we have no complaints.

The Bitches say: A-. Fuego Cocina nailed Mexican food in a classy way.

Fuego Cocina & Tequileria
2800 Clarendon Blvd.
Arlington, Va.
(571) 970-2180

Fuego Cocina serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria on Urbanspoon

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