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La Fondita, Hyattsville and Glen Bernie


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On a lazy July 4th, in need of some culinary fireworks, we headed to La Fondita based on Todd Kliman's recommendation. Having been to sister restaurant La Sirenita, I had a vision of a sort of homogenized Mexican like the latter, probably without the seafood emphasis. I was wrong!

The setting is in a house on Decatur street between Bladensberg and Hyattsville. Ther are a few parking spaces along side and 7 tables inside. Most of the menu is posted on the wall written on various pieces of cardboard or the backs of paper plates. Basically they offer Quesidillas (big floury tortillas warpped around a mess of filling, not as cheesy as some I have had but huge), Tacos, Enchilladas, Tortas, Carne Azada (sic), and a lamb soup. Kay had the Fiore di Calabasa Quesidilla and a lamb taco whicle I had the tongue taco and the lamb soup. The quesadilla was fine except for the fact that the flower was wet and made the whole soggy. I am not sure if this was a stylistic thing or if the flower was frozen/canned/stewed etc. But I would love to tear into another one of the quesadillas like the Tinga or Huilatoche (listed as mushroom or hongos). The lab taco was spartan but flavorful. The tacos came with a duo of salsas, a tart green salsa with a hint of fire and an earthy not too hot red salsa that are far superior to the similar duo from La Sirenita. Plus a cup full of lime wedges. Generous uses of all three improved the tacos very much. The tongue taco was soft braise or boiled tongue crisped on the griddle till a little alarmingly dark in color but still soft and melting in the center with a crispy/burt edge. I bet the carnitas are truly fine based on that! The Lamb Soup was brick red with loads of fatty shreds of lamb, garbanzos, onion and cilantro and some sort of a starchy ingredient that may have been cooked to disintigration tortilas, pozole or something else. In any case, it has the punch and oiliness that the pozole at La sirenita lacks. A really wonderful reviving bowl!

Drinks and desserts were a sweet orchata, a liquados di melone (really yummy), flan (very dense and caramely) and freisas con crema dissapointing for the huge trucked across the country red things masquerading as strawberries but compensated for by the dense, sweet crema concoction atop.

A couple of tortas went by on a soft, very white bready looking roll and they looked wonderful.

This is hole in the wall, home inspired Mexican cooking. It ain't high falutin Oaxacan cuisine, but more that of being invited over to a frieds house for dinner and being served really fine home cooking. If I remembered my LA Mexican influences enough, I could propbably tell you what part of mexico that it is influenced by (tinga, huilatoche, lamb being called Barbacoa should identify its origin pretty well) but all I can say is I have finally found a palce in DC that stands up to the good hole in the walls in LA. The total bill for our debauchery was all of $36 with an over 20% tip.

For less than the cost of 3 very skimpy appetizers and two tacos at Oyamel, this food was filling and full of heart. And way better in flavor. Unfortunately, no booze is offered and this food screams out for a cerveza at least, if not a tumbler of tequila, limes & salt!!!

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=After a long absence inspired by a horrendous Torte Cubano which was fried breadded stuff of indeterminate but presumably carbon life form based product that could ahve fallen off a Sysco truck (or come from the freezer of Restaurant Depot}, I have been back to a new, larger menu yesterday {on the way to said Restaurant Depot where I pass the meat department in favor of Sunkist Lemons at $18 a case less than the cheapest veggie vendor I know} and today where Kay and I stuffed ourselves silly for under $30.

Yesterday: Lamb soup which was ticks and filled with falling apart garbanzos, cabbage and other stuff if indeterminate origin but definitely veggie origin. Accompanied by some very good oversized tortillas, 2 kinds of salsa and a bowl of lime wedges which were squeezed every so often into the bowl of soup till the finishing spoonfuls were as sour as a great hot and sour soup. The tortillas, which may have been made locally or in house with a good and large tortilla press, were torn, rolled and dunked in opne of the other of the two salsas, dipped into the broth and eaten appreciatively.

Today: Kay had the lamb soup which was a fresh batch where each ingredient was still recognizable and was every bit as good if a little different than yesterdays. I had the Chilaquiles con carne azada which was a huge pile of tortillas fried in lard until they got a little crispy and then smothered in red sauce, crema and cheese along side a leathery & paper thin but quite delicious piece of beef of some sort. As we were eating, they were unloading a restaurant Depot run! Since two huge plated of food were not enough, we also had a taco di Chorizo {me, incredible} and a quesadilla of chicken and cheese {watery filling and not great but OK and it did get eaten completely}. We managed to get home before falling asleep.

Service was engaging and they enjoyed watching Los Mayonesas eating the real stuff. Like ieating an after school snack at your best friends house if he/she was from Mexico and his/her mom spent hours cooking old style foods. I have had worse at a lot of little joints in East LA so now my choice of La Placita or La Fondita is a hard one with La Sirentia a distant third.

From the cards, menus and signs in the restaurant, they encourage you to visit La Sirenita on Edmonston in Bladensburg and San Antonio Liquor Store and no other venues.

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