Fuego Picante review
2367 Hempstead Tpke. East Meadow, NY 11554
Fuego Picante-CLOSED description This venue has closed. ... More »
Fuego Picante means spicy fire.
But the restaurant isn't so hot.
This is the latest resident at an address that has hosted a series of short-lived dining rooms, including RUB BBQ, Long Fin, BeSi and Kansas City Smokehouse.
Fuego Picante is subtitled a "Mexican smokehouse and cantina." To underscore the theme, there's a wall devoted to the images of a cowboy and a señorita, he advising about appetite, she about heat.
The rest of the joint is equally subtle.
Tequila fuels things here. And the selection is both extensive and well chosen. Fuego Picante does seem more about margaritas and sangria than a flight of añejo tequilas. But you can have one, too. The choice of draft beers also is very good.
When you're not imbibing or taking in the luminaria, industrial lighting and crowd scene, nibble on the smoked short rib nachos, wherein boneless short rib chili joins Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and "avocado yogurt crema" for an opener best shared.
The guacamole is standard stuff. Pulled pork-and-chorizo empanadas are pretty dry; likewise, the shrimp taquito with bacon, potatoes and smoked tomato salsa. You're better off with the sopa Azteca, or chicken soup with vegetables, cilanto and avocado -- a dish that probably has more to do with cooking at San Diego State than Mesoamerica.
A pan-seared crabcake, with poblano aioli and roasted corn salad, is satisfying. So's the Caesar salad, which, if not a taste of the Tijuana original, at least has "chili rubbed croutons." The Mexican wedge salad includes candied walnuts and "chipotle ranch."
The smoke from sizzling fajitas probably set off the fire alarm on a recent visit. No diner budged at what must be a regular event. Or maybe they were just downing the respectable fish tacos, made with grouper and finished with tomatillo-avocado sauce and pasilla-pepper salsa.
If you're intent on fajitas, try the chicken. Enchiladas suizas, with braised chicken, also is a sensible choice. The "fire-grilled barbecue" grouper, on mashed potatoes and accompanied by a corn-cilantro saute, similarly is worth ordering. The heavy-duty steak-and-shrimp burrito isn't.
You'll require a machete, or at least sturdy incisors, to get the hickory-smoked barbecued ribs off the bone. "BBQ glazed" pulled pork and the rib-eye steak are improvements.
Skip chewy churros, arid tres leches cake and entombed glass-jar apple pie in favor of the wobbly Kahlúa flan or even the cornflake-crusted fried ice cream.
By now, that "Cosmoquila" is looking good, too.