Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the streets of Mexico City. You smell something enticing in the air and find yourself at a taco stand, biting into two tacos al pastor, double the tortilla and garnished with a slice of pineapple.
That feeling of joy is comparable to the exhilaration you feel at a local Rohnert Park establishment, Taquería El Fogón, that nurtures a love for these types of defeños (deriving from the Mexican capital) dishes in Sonoma County.
It was in November of 2017 when José Rodríguez and Laura Martínez, a couple from Mexico City, opened one of the few food establishments in the Northern Bay Area who offers garnachas (street food) options, after 16 years of living and working “doing pretty much everything” in the United States.
“We had to drive to Oakland to find this type of cooking. We would go, eat and then come back”, said Rodríguez, 42, explaining the reasons why he opened his business. “I was looking to eat this type of food with my family and my friends, but there wasn’t any here”.
Although in Sonoma County there are more residents from states such as Oaxaca, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Jalisco, Rodríguez knew that there were others like him, who longed for garnachas, street food from the Mexico City area, also known as fritangas. “We started with that idea, a little crazy,” he said.
The most requested dish at El Fogón is the machete, a long, recently cooked tortilla — measuring 14 x 16 inches for the regular or 24 inches for the special — cooked on the comal (a flat griddle) and filled with whatever the diner wishes, like chorizo and eggs for breakfast or chicharrón (pork rind) with pumpkin flower for dinner.
The colorful location, with walls painted orange and green and decorated with pastel pink tablecloths has a long list of chilango street food on it’s menu such as: tacos al pastor, suadero (thin cuts of cow or pork) or tripa (gut), gorditas stuffed with pressed chicharrón (pork rind), fried quesadillas filled with pumpkin flower, mushrooms, huitlacoche (fungus that grows from corn), tinga (marinated shredded chicken); enchiladas, sopes (very thick tortillas) and even guajolotas, which is a sandwich stuffed with a salty tamale filled with chicken smothered in green salsa, pork in a red salsa or slices of cheese, and paired with champurrado (a chocolate maize based drink) or atole (a hot corn based drink) with flavors such as guava, tamarind, strawberry and pineapple.
“We try to bring the authentic street food, what you are used to eating on the streets, the mercados and plazas. We don’t get into complicated recipes or elaborate plates. We like to stick to the traditional, what people are forgetting about, leaving behind,” said Rodríguez.
On weekends, they serve pozole, goat and beef birria (a spicy stew), and according to Rodríguez, many of his clientele come for the barbacoa, Mexico City style. “We prepare the meat in a oven built in a hole in the ground and cook it all night. A friend from Napa helps me prepare it with maguey leaves (from the agave plant) and we only serve it on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Garnachas are a style of food that Mexicans enjoy with their hands, without utensils, or like Rodríguez says, “it doesn’t matter if your fingers get covered in grease, the important thing is the taste.”
Taquería El Fogón is located at 6650 Commerce Blvd, unit #5 in Rohnert Park. They are open every day, from 10-10, and on weekends, starting at 9 am. Check out their menu at: elfogontaqueria.com.
Translated to English by La Prensa Sonoma intern, Mayra Lopez.
Noticias y eventos desde la región vinícola del norte de California para la comunidad latina.
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