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Spotlight: Scott Joseph Reviews La Fogata

Photo of Bandeja Paisa La Fogata dish courtesy of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide
Photo of Bandeja Paisa La Fogata dish courtesy of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide

This review is abridged for broadcast. Find the full version of the review at Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide on this page.

La Fogata saved my Friday night recently.

My destination was another restaurant in the complex across from the Florida Mall. It was an obscure place, but when you write about restaurants you look for the obscure finds, listen for leads, go hunting on a hunch.

This time it didn’t work out. My companion and I walked into the intended restaurant and were greeted with a glare by a staff member holding a microphone and tending to a very large party just inside the front door. His look made it clear that if we weren’t part of this group we didn’t really belong there that night. We left.

Just across the way, I saw the sign for La Fogata and said, Let’s give it a try. It was delightful.

La Fogata, Spanish for the wood fire, features a Latin American menu that focuses on Puerto Rico and Colombia.

For an appetizer we shared the Maduritos con Queso, an Ecuadorian dish of sweet plantains stuffed with cheese. Deep fried, they looked like oversized croquettas and were gooey cheesy.

For my entree I chose the Mofongo Camarones, which were separate components of a typical Puerto Rican mofongo of green plantains with crispy chicharonnes and lots of garlic. The shrimp were smothered in a rich bechamel, which was delicious when spooned over the fried and mashed plantains.

My friend chose the Bandeja Paisa La Fogata, a Colombian dish featuring a grilled New York strip with a long strip of pig skin and chorizo, served with a side of red beans and a mound of rice topped with a fried egg. The quality of the steak was quite good, and the value of the meal — all that food for $16.85 — was impressive.

The large dining room is bright and has a cafeteria sort of feel.

But the people here are quite pleasant and welcoming. At one point while we waited for our entrees, our server brought us two glasses of red house wine for no reason. It was a nice gesture.

I was glad we ducked out of our original destination and even gladder that La Fogata was right there to welcome us. Nice people with good food at a great price.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined Central Florida Public Media in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.