When it comes to Mexican cuisine, Los Angeles has no lack of excellent options. Between the chain restaurants, taco stands and hole-in-the-wall joints, it may seem daunting to find a local, quality spot serving authentic food. For Sherman Oaks natives, La Fogata Restaurant on Van Nuys Boulevard is a superb choice for a quick, casual and delicious Mexican meal.
There aren’t many surprises on La Fogata’s menu, just conventional, tasty Mexican fare: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, chile rellenos, tostadas, and other classics.
According to a friend who grew up eating his Mexican grandmother’s cooking, their food is reminiscent of her amazing homemade specialties. So it isn’t surprising to learn that the family that owns La Fogata is originally from Mexico City. Their Sherman Oaks location has been serving happy customers since 1982 and has become a staple of the Valley’s casual dining scene.
The restaurant is clean with a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Perfect for lunch or an easy weeknight dinner, La Fogata offers counter-style service, where you order first and then a friendly staff member brings the food over to your table.
All of the fresh meals are flavorful, never bland like the offerings of other quick-service locations. They also offer food to go, so it is the perfect spot to grab a take-out dinner on the way home from work.
One of my go-to meals is the Enchilada and Taco combination. Although the taco is typically served with shredded beef, I substitute their moist shredded chicken, prepared in a light tomato and onion sauce. The crispy tacos come loaded with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
Fair warning: almost everything is sprinkled with cheese, including the classically prepared refried beans and the enchilada in its smooth, tangy red sauce. But as a cheese lover, you’ll get no complaint from me.
Another traditional dish that La Fogata prepares is the Mole con Pollo, or chicken in mole sauce. While it is not the best mole sauce I’ve enjoyed, it is an adequate stand-in if you’re looking for that complex, herbaceous, chocolaty fix.
The burritos, which are usually served wet with salsa and cheese melted on top, are a real treat. Among my favorites is the Ranchero Burrito, served with tender, shredded machaca beef mixed with plenty of beans, salsa, cilantro and guacamole upon request. While you’re at it, why not order a simple bean and cheese burrito for later, trust me, it makes an amazing midnight snack.
And be sure to buy a side of chips and salsa, as their salsa bar features freshly made pico de gallo, tomatillo and mild or hot roja varieties. They also offer a selection of beer and wine to enjoy when you dine in.
All of the meals are hearty portions and affordable: an enormous a la carte burrito is just $6.25; combination meals featuring your choice of two items and two sides range from $8.50 to $8.90; and a platter of chicken fajitas served with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, rice, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas is $10.75.
My next goal is to try their breakfast, featuring breakfast burritos, omelettes, and breakfast quesadillas served until 11 a.m., with some items including Huevos Rancheros and Huevos con Chorizo served all day.
La Fogata Mexican Restaurant, 5142 Van Nuys Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Open daily for dine-in or take-out, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
There is a small parking lot adjacent to the restaurant and metered street parking is available nearby.