This Žižkov restaurant's Mexican food may be authentic but it isn't necessarily good
The time for yet another quarterly team dinner had rolled around and, on this occasion, the destination of choice decided upon was Fosil, a Mexican restaurant recently re-opened in Žižkov (exterior still clearly a work in progress).
Fortunately for one of us in the team, we collectively can't remember who among us came up with Fosil as an initial suggestion, so the individual in question is spared the irredeemable blame of having unwittingly chosen one of the most disappointing restaurant venues in living team memory.
I'd not ever visited Fosil in its previous incarnation, but had heard the hype about it being one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in Prague, owned and run, I'm told, by actual Mexicans. All I can say here is that if Fosil is truly a reflection of "real" Mexican cuisine, then I'll take the inauthentic but at least tasty Tex-Mex bastardisation every time...
Admittedly, I'm a Brit and therefore more familiar with our own primary immigrant cuisine, Indian, than I am with true Mexican, but we did have a visitor in the group over from the States at the time, who by the end of the evening also shared in our table's collective view that, well, the food here overall simply wasn't very good.
Perhaps we were there on a bad night. Every table in the place was packed out with big groups, with service as a result sporadic at best here.
In contrast to the somewhat ramshackle exterior here, the interior at Fosil was very festive and colorful, with lively Latino guitar music blaring out from one side of the room. I have to say that, while I enjoyed the upbeat live music here, I did rather wish we weren't placed directly next to the singer -- a sentiment shared by the rest of the table, who, on the whole, would rather have not had communal conversation all but drowned out here.
It took quite a while to get our drinks order in, with most of the table going for wine (Chilean) or beer (Czech) of some description. Only two colleagues broke rank by ordering cocktails here, with one colleague going for a mojito (quite reasonably priced at 95 CZK) and our Stateside visitor opting for a margarita (80 CZK).
Both commented that these were well made, but pretty low on alcohol content. Mr. USA also added that he'd asked for his margarita not frozen, but it came served that way anyhow.
A few starters were collectively ordered for the table -- the totopas (35 CZK), guacamole (70 CZK) and salchichas fritas (80 CZK).
The totopas (a.k.a. nachos) and dips were all good here, though I personally didn't much like the salchichas fritas, which just tasted like deep-fried hot dog here. One of my colleagues mentioned that she'd seen someone from the kitchen rush out at one point in the evening and return with packs of cheap sausages from the nearest potraviny, so I guess that makes sense.
Our American visitor also ordered a separate portion of Sopa de Tortilla (55 CZK), which came served with cheese, sour cream and coriander.
His verdict was that this was nice, but needed more hot sauce. Luckily for him, there was a wide variety on the table here to redress the balance.
As for the mains, I was quite disappointed by the comparative lack of choice on the Fosil menu. Basically you're fine if you happen to like tacos, but in truth I'm more a fajita/burrito/chimichanga girl myself. Perhaps, unbeknownst to me, these dishes all fall under the "non authentic" category of mock Mexican food, but I for one still unapologetically like them and missed at least having the option here.
The three taco options ordered by various members of the table were the Tacos de Bistek (170 CZK), the Tacos de Carnitas (150 CZK) and the Tacos Dorados with chicken (150 CZK). All of these came served with three or four soft tacos, though according to the menu the Tacos de Carnitas strictly speaking ought to have come with six.
None of the four taco eaters were massively impressed here, with the two who'd ordered Tacos de Carnitas complaining that they were incredibly dry and not worth the masticatory effort to finish.
Of the relatively few non-taco options, quesadillas were at least listed as a starter, which another colleague ordered in chicken version (75 CZK) in time with the mains.
In fact this was pretty much a main course in itself, though my colleague lamented the comparative lack of chicken meat inside. It didn't come served with any sides of salsa or sour cream etc, but fortunately pots of these were still on the table from the totados starter.
Moving on, I was interested to see what the enchiladas de mole with green sauce (160 CZK) as ordered by our American colleague would turn out.
First impressions here were that the dish certainly wasn't going to win any awards for presentation, but I'm told that the green sauce was good and there was plenty of cheese, though the chicken meat itself was apparently a little on the tough side.
Not ever having heard the term before, I was also keen to see what the alambre dish (150 CZK), described on the menu as grilled chicken meat with pepper, onion, bacon and cheese, would be like.
This was quite a large portion considering the relative richness of the sauce, and came with a couple of plain tortillas on the side. My colleague, however, wasn't impressed, commenting that the dish was too salty to really enjoy.
As for me, I went for the pechuga di polla (170 CZK), while another colleague went for the rump steak (220 CZK).
These came similarly presented, with generous sides of rice, salad, guacamole and refried beans. According to the menu, they were also supposed to be served with tortillas, but I had to remind the waiter about these.
Neither of us were particularly pleased with our choices here, both finding the meat that bit too tough, and -- in my case -- also quite bland. Fortunately the sides here were pretty good, however, though I definitely regretted having taken on the refried beans the next day, when -- much to my embarrassment -- every subsequent digestive gurgle was clearly audible to all present at the all-day training session I happened to be conducting down in Brno.
Which pretty much sums it up for our ill-fated team dinner to Fosil, a visit marred by semi-existent service, excessively loud music, and lacklustre food. Given the number of positive reviews I've read about the place in the past, I can only assume that either a) they were having an off night or b) each and every one of the 10 people around the table were just too "culinarily unaware" to truly enjoy Mexican food at its most "authentic" -- general toughness, dryness, saltiness and/or blandness here notwithstanding...
Given the atmospheric interior, party vibe and seriously cheap prices, I have no doubt that Fosil will continue to draw strong custom from the student/backpacker/expat population.
Me and the nine other members of my team won't, I suspect, be among them a second time.
Phone: (+420) 737 502 824
Fosil Mexican Bar and Kitchen (Brewsta, 2009)
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