After 17 years living in the United States, George Duarte, a native of Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, decided it was time to share the food of his homeland. That meant opening Taqueria El Fogoncito at 10425 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa.
In a tiny space in a nondescript office building, Duarte and his staff open early and stay late to prepare fresh, authentic Mexican food much like what can be found in his native Cancun.
"People traveling to Mexico always ask what the local people eat. They want the most authentic food," Duarte explained. "Locals usually eat cheap tacos found on the street corners at taquerias. That's what we serve here."
The menu at Taqueria El Fogoncito is simple. The signature dishes are the tacos, available in carne asada (steak), carne pastor (pork) or pollo (chicken) for $1.89 each. A combination of three tacos is $6.99. There are traditional Mexican breakfast dishes such as huevos rancheros ($5.95) and lunch and dinner favorites such as enchiladas ($6.99), burritos ($5.50), tortas (Mexican sandwiches, $4.99) and quesadillas ($5.50).
The restaurant offers daily specials, and anything can be ordered to dine in or take out. Besides the food, Taqueria El Fogoncito serves coffee and soda.
All of the food, including salsa (available as mild or hot as desired), rice and beans are prepared fresh, from scratch, every day. Warm tortilla chips are served along with the homemade salsa.
Taqueria El Fogoncito is across from the south entrance to Mayfair Mall in the Fairview office building. It's a small diner-style space that formerly housed Jake's and Suzy's cafés. It opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday for those who want to stop by and grab breakfast on their way to work. With later closing times - 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday - Duarte hopes to attract the post-movie and after-bar crowds as well as anyone looking for good, cheap food.
Duarte defines "El Fogoncito" as a little candle or tiny source of fire, for instance, for cooking. Given its small size and menu with big flavors, Taqueria El Fogoncito seems aptly named.
NAME: Taqueria El Fogoncito
ADDRESS: 10425 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa
FARE: authentic Mexican
HOURS: 7a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday
PRICE: $1.89 to $6.99
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"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, e-mail her at email@example.com.