Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fosil Mexican Bar and Kitchen (Closed)

"Any authentic creation is a gift to the future." Albert Camus
I was in a bar a few nights ago and, as I often do, I was talking about food.

I was lamenting the lack of good Mexican restaurants in Prague and recounting my recent disappointing visit to Cantina.

I also mentioned the failings of the city's other Mexican places like Amigos (spoiled beef quesadillas!), Sonora (bland chimichanga), Buffalo Bill's (not what it used to be), and Žlutá pumpa (OK, but not it).

I came to drink with G-Man. But it was my karmic good fortune that he was with three very nice and interesting people who hailed from Mexico, one of whom lives in Prague. This good man did not just listen sympathetically to my complaints. He also gave me advice.

"Go to Fosil," he said. "It is the only real Mexican in Prague."He is a friend of the owner and told me to mention his name if I went. That's not my style -- I like to keep a low profile. But I went the very next night.

It was a Friday. There are only five tables. I was alone, so I was happy to sit at the bar.I started with a margarita (95 CZK). Very good. The chef came out of the kitchen to make it.He squeezed limes in his fists over a blender, threw in tequila, triple sec, and Cinzano Limetto. That's all. There were a few ice cubes, but not enough to make it slushy. Then, he blended it, and poured it all into a martini glass.

It took quite a while, but it was worth it. Quite tart, not too sweet. Nice kick. It did make me wonder how he could keep up with the cooking. It made me hesitate to order a second one, while waiting for my food. But I liked it too much and went for it.

As an appetizer, I got guacamole and chips (90 CZK). It was the best I've had in Prague.The avocados were blended to a creamy state, and mixed with cilantro, tomatoes, green chilies, and a lot of chopped, raw onion.

It was quite spicy, especially when I got a piece of hot pepper caught in the back of my throat. A swig from my margarita cleared that up nicely.

It looked like a small portion in the dish, but it lasted through many chips. I really enjoyed it.

For a main course, I ordered the tacos de bistek (180 CZK).Out came three steaming hot tacos filled with beef, fried onion, and refried black beans, covered with melted cheese. The most pleasant surprise was that they were made with soft, warm corn tortillas.

I had never seen soft corn tortillas anywhere in Prague before. A few days later, I saw a package of them in Tesco Eden, but Fosil's were far superior with a much stronger corn flavor.

However, the beef was a disappointment. It didn't have a lot of flavor, and it was very tough. I also wished the black bean refrito had more seasoning. But I'll tell you, those tortillas made me forgive a lot of sins.

And there was another reason for absolution. It came with four different bottled Mexican chili sauces -- red and green habanero sauces, chile arbol sauce, and chipotle pepper sauce.I tried them all, and loved them all. I couldn't make up my mind which one I liked best.

They really saved the day and the dish. I enjoyed it in the end.

I was pretty excited about the place, so I took V the next night, calling ahead to make sure we got a table. Good thing because it was full except for that table when we arrived.I should add that I wanted to go another night with friends after work, but no one answered repeated calls, so we didn't go because we didn't want to risk being turned away.On this visit, V had the margarita and loved it, too. In fact, she had three. She did ask for no salt and it came with salt on the rim, but she was easy going about it and didn't send it back.

I tried the pina colada (100 CZK).Extremely basic, not very good. It was very foamy from the blender. The pineapple juice quickly separated from the cream and foam.

Then, I went for the coco loco (100 CZK). I didn't realize it would come in a coconut, and I can't remember the last time I had a drink with an unbrella in it.The bar guy made a hole with a cork screw and poured in the alcohol. Then, he had a difficult time getting two straws in the little hole.

I forgot what was in it, but it tasted a lot like a pina colada. I wouldn't recommend it, either. It was gone in four sucks on the straw.

When we started eating, I switched to beer. I had a half-liter of Pilsner Urquell (33 CZK).They also had Gambrinus on tap.

V tried the guacamole and also thought it was great. Later, she decided to pick something that sounded exotic and she'd never tried before, so she got the Plato Azteca (195 CZK).There was a shredded chicken in a sweet mole. The real deal. Yum.

There were nopales (prickly pear), black beans rice, cheese, and a corn tortilla taco -- I guess that was the part called alambre on the menu. It may have been chicken with onions, and peppers. But I couldn't really tell you exactly what is under all that cheese. It was dark.

V tends to be more adventurous than me, and loves new and different things. So, I was a disappointed when she said the flavors were too strange for her, and she didn't like her dinner. Especially because I enjoyed it all.

The Mexican gentleman I met had recommended I try the Al Pastor (170 CZK). So, this time, I did. And I was very happy.There was marinated pork, cilantro, diced raw onions, and fresh pineapple. Lime wedges sat on the side.

On paper, this combination did not look so appealing to me. But on the palate, I loved it. I didn't even add any hot sauces to this one. It was just right as it was. There was only one defect. On this night, the corn tortillas were a bit al dente and chewy at the edges.

The service on the first night I went was pretty good, and I was in and out in about an hour.On the second night, it was busier. I'd heard things moved slowly there, so I wasn't surprised it took almost 45 minutes to get our guacamole. The whole meal took over two hours, but we were drinking a lot and not starving, so it didn't bother us that much.

One table ordered a big platter for four -- the waiter let me get a look at it.There were "pigs in blankets," quesadillas, and black beans, among other things.

Also, I saw something I'd never seen before -- the waiter was taking pictures of the food, himself. So, he didn't think too much about my penchant for food photography.

The waiter brought us a gift of a small piece of house-made lemon cake he carved out of a tupperware container.It was delicious -- a good combination of sweet and sour.

The final tab that night was 1041 CZK, which was more than fair because we had six cocktails, two beers, and a bottle of Mattoni mineral water.

I will return to Fosil. I want the al pastor, the guacamole, and the margaritas again. And that mole, too. If someone asks me my favorite Mexican restaurant in Prague, I will now say "Fosil."

Sure, the service was slow, some cocktails were misfires, and the beef tacos needed work.

But it is run by Mexicans, and there is a feeling and a taste of authenticity that I've never found anywhere else in the city.

This ain't Czech-Mex, muchachos.

I look forward to having some of those authentic creations in the future.

Fosil Mexican Bar and Kitchen
Bělehradská 66
Prague 2
Tel. (+420) 737 502 824


Anonymous said...

For all my 15 years here, etc etc blah blah blah, I am excited to try this place. Srsly, excited. Since the Fresh-something(?) by Kotva succumbed to construction strangulation, there's no Mexican worth the name. And is Banditos the place by Andel? Mediocre in two tries.

- minor d

Brewsta said...

d - Banditos is off Jecna, near IP Pavlova.

Pivní Filosof said...

I'm glad you've found a decent Mexican place here.
I'm glad you didn't drink Corona this time :)

Anonymous said...

If you want to try another authentic mexican spot, check this link out:
Mexican chef in Hostel Astoria for a couple of weeks. Really good.

Good_Will said...

Thanks, Anonymous for the Hotel Astoria tip.

The menu looks good, and not too expensive for a hotel:

I like restaurants with a menu this small because it says to me that they stick to cooking what they know best and don't overextend themselves.

On the other hand they may be just lazy. :D

Will check it out when I get back from Spain and post my thoughts here.

Cheers, Will

Rodolfo Javier Garcia Grimaldo said...

Hi, I just want to mention an opinion.
I have seen in your blog, that mexican food in praga is not really good.
Here in mexico is better that you eat there.
Tacos is the Diary diet of any mexican, but they are most delicious dishes you can taste.
Any good mexican cooker would set a better menu that normal, tacos, gorditas, quesadillas, etc...

and just one coment about beer. somebody mentioned corona.

In mexico the corona beer is only consumed for tourist, mexican prefers other better beers, with better flavor. corona sux.

geoffrey said...

G here. Looking forward to trying Fossils tonight after all the conversation with the three from Mexico. Nice blog keep it up. People around our office use it regularly to get ideas for nights out.

Anonymous said...

Having tried Fosil on Friday, I think I can agree with your review in spirit, without even comparing details. In our party, I think I liked it the most, but it is very hit-and-miss, both in food and cocktails, if you so indulge. And they don't really seem to know what they're doing, restaurant-wise. The menu is a mess, and the poor bartender/waiter seems in over his head. I guess the quesadillas are an appetizer, for example, because they come piled up on a tea saucer-sized plate. Weird. But the guacamole is excellent and the enchilades in mole sauce I had were great.


Some Guy in Prague said...

while i agree the food is quite nice, i can't go there again...i've been twice and waiting HOURS for the main course to arrive is just too much to ask.

burgeoningfoodie said...

Tacos al pastor is one of the top staples of a traditional mexican taqueria. The meat is pit cooked like shawerma and served with pineapple. Here in NC USA there are tons of little taco joints that serve this and several other forms of meat. Now all that is needed is some good agua fresca (or horchata) and a salsa bar.