Fuego Comida and Tequila Lounge Shines in Lakewood Ranch

Good Bite

The Mexico City Garlic Noodles with a whole Dungeness Crab. Photo by Bianca Juzwa.

This August, Lakewood Ranch got a taste of innovative and upscale Mexican cuisine at Fuego Comida and Tequila Lounge. After joining the Fuego team, Executive Chef Jason Dame investigated how trailblazing restaurants in the Southwest executed fine Mexican dining. “I developed the concept after researching food trends in California and Las Vegas, where high-end Mexican restaurants are exploding onto the scene,” he says. Dame decided to combine coastal Mexican seafood with steakhouse favorites, with an emphasis on American Wagyu steak.

The restaurant’s menu strikes an impressive balance between traditional flavors and creative presentation. “Our focus is on the Yucatan and Veracruz. We use heirloom masa to make corn tortillas. It’s a single-origin and unprocessed masa ground in Puebla, Mexico, then sent to us. We also use heirloom ayocote beans shipped to us from Puebla, which were first cultivated in 4000 B.C.,” he adds. “What separates us from other Mexican restaurants are the traditional recipes that we use.”

The corn tortillas shine in the Enchilada Skillet, which comes with salsa roja, melted Chihuahua cheese, lime crema, radish slaw and short rib barbacoa or pulled chicken tinga. Layered in a skillet pan and covered with salsa, meat and cheese, the tortillas add depth to this conforming dish. Dame recommends that meat lovers try the American Wagyu Kobe skirt steak, while seafood enthusiasts will enjoy the cast-seared day boat scallops, with roasted corn chorizo, succotash, oyster mushrooms, aji amarillo puree and lemon-truffle oil emulsion. Originally from Rhode Island, he drew upon the Native American tradition of corn succotash to round out the meal. Inspired by the Dungeness crab garlic noodles he sampled while in San Francisco, Dame set out to recreate the secret recipe for Fuego. “The dish comes from a family restaurant with a secret kitchen where only family members can make the noodles. We put our own spin on it and added Mexican chile peppers and salsa macha,” he says.

For Sunday brunch, Fuego serves up classics like huevos rancheros and playful dishes such as chicken and churros. Happy hour features cocktails designed by Dame, including the Day of the Dead Cocktail with Camarena Reposado, blood orange liquor, lime, hibiscus syrup float, activated charcoal agave and a smoke bubble that adds a visual wow factor to the drink. “We’re before the curve, where the food trend is going. Many top chefs from around the world are in Mexico seeing what’s coming,” Dame adds. “People are used to Tex-Mex, but here they get the real thing.”

Fuego Comida and Tequila Lounge, 11615 Florida 70 E., Lakewood Ranch, 941-751-5252, fuegotequilalounge.com.

The Mexico City Garlic Noodles with a whole Dungeness Crab. Photo by Bianca Juzwa.

Fuego Comida and Tequila Lounge

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