Fosil Mexican Bar and Kitchen
For Prague diners tired of Czech-Mex, this Vinohrady restaurant offers an authentic taste of Mexico
Any authentic creation is a gift to the future.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 umbrella in it.
The bar guy made a hole with a corkscrew 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 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 1,041 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
Tel.: (+420) 737 502 824
Prague Directory Listing
For example, on several occasions I've been literally the only customer in the place and I've had to wait 10 or 15 minutes just to order a drink, while the staff washed dishes, re-stocked the fridge, counted the register, etc. No big deal. But then after finally ordering the drink, they usually go straight back to their dishes or other non-essential tasks for another 10 minutes before deciding to pour and bring the drink. And this inattentiveness continues throughout the meal -- when ordering the food, bringing the food, refilling drinks, and settling the bill. I hate to be so harsh because I like the food and the people -- but I honestly think they just don't know any better.
So in short, if you want good Mexican food, are in a tolerant mood, and have nowhere else to be for the rest of the day, Fosil is a good choice. Otherwise, keep praying that Taco Bell will one day open its hallowed doors in our fine city ;)
April 5, 2009
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