A fountain of yum
La Fuente790 Baring Blvd.
Sparks, NV 89434
It seems that in the restaurant biz perhaps more than any other, looks can be deceiving. You must be careful not to judge from the parking lot. That dingy-looking basement grotto could serve the finest boudin blanc sausage this side of Baton Rouge. Or, it could serve hunks of tasteless freeze-dried meatloaf from the hospital cafeteria collection. It’s a craps shoot with nothing more than a stomach ache at stake.
With this in mind, my girlfriend, Chérie, and I drove up to La Fuente. It appeared as little more than a couple of nondescript doors in a personality-free strip mall in Sparks. But as we walked inside, we were enthused and pleasantly surprised by a fount of welcome in what turned out to be a fun, festive Mexican restaurant.
La Fuente is bright and cheerful, with colorful Mexican artwork, large cozy booths and the centerpiece—an eponymous, trickling fountain. All of this creates a warm and friendly mood. This was the perfect spot for us to unwind and replenish after a day of snowshoeing on Mount Rose.
We were greeted with ice water, chips, salsa and a smile. The joint was filling up fast, but luckily, we arrived before the onslaught of the margarita-slurping masses, mainly families with grown children.
As Chérie and I scanned the menu for some grub, we talked about what a pleasant place this was and how glad we were to have stumbled upon it. It’s kind of a hidden hot spot: a place for a decent Mexican meal in a clean, enjoyable environment.
We were both super hungry, so we looked for the biggest, most bad-ass things on the menu. There was plenty to choose from. They had all sorts of combos, tacos, tostadas and burritos, but we finally narrowed it down to MEAT!
Chérie ordered the spicy carné asada a los 7 chiles for $12.95. I went with the carné asada Pancho Villa for the same price. Chérie’s carné asada was a skirt steak that had been rubbed with an adobo, made of seven types of dried chiles, then grilled over an open flame. My carné asada Pancho Villa was also a grilled skirt steak, seasoned and grilled perfectly. Both of our meals came with beans, rice, guacamole and tortillas, the only difference being that my beans were whole pinto beans and Chérie’s were refried beans. Both dishes were simple, understated and absolutely loaded with low-key charm.
The nice cuts of steak were well-seasoned and cooked properly.
The beans were authentic Mexican style, with—get this—authentic Mexican flavor. Many Mexican restaurants serve weak, tasteless beans, impostors lacking the nerve to tussle with your tastebuds. Not at La Fuente. These beans have swagger.
On top of having good food, La Fuente’s service was quick and friendly. The staff actually looked like they had their act together, which is something I don’t see often enough these days.
Along with a cheerful, festive ambiance, the good food and service makes La Fuente one of the best Mexican restaurants in Reno or Sparks.