Mexican Food at La Fondita, Amagansett

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La Fondita is a great little find in Amagansett. It’s a Mexican restaurant, predominantly for take out, but with picnic tables outside, weather permitting. What sets this take out place apart from others is that it’s owned by the same people as Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, hands down one of the best restaurants in all the Hamptons. You can be sure the ingredients are fresh and the cooks behind the line know what they’re doing. It may not look like much from the outside. But one doesn’t necessarily go there for the ambiance. You go for the food. Place your order at the counter, get a number, wait to be called, grab a Mexican beer or horchata (cinnamon rice milk) if you’d like, and dig in. No frills. Just good food.

La Fondita’s menu has a little something for everyone looking for authentic Mexican and Latin flavors. The old stand-bys are included of course: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, etc. But what makes this place stand out is that they give you choices of meat or vegetarian style meals. There are also vegan entrées and the meat and poultry are all natural and antibiotic-free. The delicious corn is from Balsam Farms (one of my favorite farms locally). Each tortilla is made fresh daily.

At La Fondita, you don’t get one kind of taco, you get a choice of four, from your traditional meat tacos to fresh fish tacos. There are burritos with cod or shrimp when in season. There are soups (I love the pozole rojo: pork with white hominy topped with lettuce and radish), sandwiches, salads and sides, plus a children’s menu.

The prices at La Fondita are reasonable by Hamptons standards. For example, a fish taco is $4. Sandwiches are $9.50. And large, traditional plates such as chayote en salsa verde (squash in salsa verde) is $14.50. The portions are generally a good size, so order several items from the menu and share family style. Don’t forget their Mexican corn off the cob with red peppers, onion, cilantro, mayo, queso fresco, and chili powder when in season, $3.

Service is knowledgable, fast and friendly. The perfect place for super casual attire or take out. Call for off season hours or for catering your next fiesta: 631.324.6932.

More On Take Out

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Just had lunch from Breadzilla in Wainscott. I had the shrimp salad on a homemade squishy roll, and my lunch partner had the hippy-dippy, a sandwich with cheddar, avocado, tomato, carrots, alfalfa sprouts and mustard mayo on honey wheat bread. The shrimp salad was fresh and looked like chopped medium sized shrimp, mixed with mayo and celery, topped with shredded lettuce, and seasoned with pepper on a seedless roll. Very good but could have used a pinch of salt, in my opinion. They consistently use what I consider to be the right amount of mayonnaise. Just enough to bind the ingredients without a lingering mayonnaise taste. The hippy-dippy was super fresh and delicious. The mustard mayo doesn’t overpower the delicate fresh vegetables. The carrots are shredded and raw, in case you were wondering. My non-meat eating friend enjoys this option on a regular basis. But don’t be fooled by their menu. They have much more to offer, such as freshly baked breads, bagels, and pastries. I personally enjoy their scones. They have a simple but impressive cheese collection in the cold case as you walk in. They offer an array of already prepared foods made on the premises, such as individual meatloaf (could really serve two), pizza with various toppings, and cold soups and salads among other items made fresh and changed daily. Look in the cold case for yesterday’s bread and buy it at a discount. The cinnamon swirl bread is incredible! It consistently has a good sized streak of cinnamon-sugary goodness running through it. Day old cinnamon bread is perfect for French toast. They post their menu each day with the specials for that day. They usually offer three types of soup, most often at least one will be vegan, and sandwiches and platters. If you are cutting carbs, ask for your choice of sandwich on a bed of fresh greens instead. I have always been accommodated when I’ve asked for a substitution of greens for bread.

Breadzilla is busy at lunchtime, so I recommend calling ahead. I also recommend knowing what you want before you call. I once called and asked what the soups of the day were and was told, “It’s on our website”. I don’t think the young lady meant to be rude, I think she was just really busy. I’ve always had straight forward, good service. They have never messed up my order, which is saying a lot considering how busy they can be, especially in the summer. Oh, there’s a clear cell phone policy: get off your phone if you want to be served.

There are several take out places in this little area in Wainscott. In front of Breadzilla you have Twice Upon A Bagel, and the Seafood Shop right next door. I’ll discuss the Seafood Shop in my next review. For now, know it’s always fresh!

Twice Upon A Bagel, obviously, sells bagels. But, it’s more of a bagel store/bakery/deli combo. They don’t have a website, but you can read reviews on yelp.com. Unlike most of the reviews that call the staff unfriendly and the food wildly overpriced, let me say I’ve only had pleasant and efficient service. Having said that, I have noticed the staff to be a bit frantic in the summer, so I don’t doubt service could be compromised at times. As far as price, I think there’s a bit of “it’s the Hamptons” you have to swallow when you get here to not be pissed off at the overall high prices virtually everywhere. High compared to what? Say, compared to a good Jewish deli in the city. It’s not my first choice of bagel joints in the Hamptons, but it’s not the worst either. I’d like to mention Goldberg’s Famous Bagels at this time. Located off Pantigo Road in East Hampton. This is where I go for my bagels on the south fork.

Goldberg’s, as it’s simply known, is more of a true bagel store. There’s a counter just for ordering bagels, and a separate deli counter for ordering everything else. They have terrific sandwiches, with combinations of freshly made chopped liver with brisket, pastrami, corned beef, turkey…you name it. There are many sandwich combinations already laid out for you on their menu, or feel free to choose your own ingredients. We’re not talking Carnegie Deli big, but you get a good serving of meat on each sandwich. Enjoy one of their homemade soups. (I once ordered their matzo ball soup. Excellent. Not salty, and the matzo balls were light and airy. But, I accidentally ordered a large portion which is a quart of soup, just FYI.) A small soup and half of a sandwich will fill most. For breakfast, they offer various egg sandwiches as you’d see in most deli’s. Goldberg’s takes the breakfast sandwich a step further and will add a delicious hash brown on your egg sandwich along with your choice of cheese and meat. There’s even an egg sandwich with roast beef, cheese, and a hash brown which I’ve found sinfully delicious. I believe this combination is aptly called the “Not So Healthy” breakfast sandwich.

Aside from the numerous sandwich combinations on bread, bagel, roll or flagel (basically a flattened bagel), Goldberg’s offers many other good eats behind the deli counter. There’s falafel, herring, kasha varnishkas, pickles, knishes, smoked fish, and most deli salads you can imagine. At times they sell noodle pudding. And there’s always freshly squeezed orange juice.

Reviews I’ve read online, more often than not, give Goldberg’s a positive rating in every category. I do, however, have one small complaint. I asked for a smoked fish platter, ordered it ahead of time, and for around $18 I felt their portion and selection of smoked fish was insufficient. I had more garnish than smoked fish it seemed: cole slaw, pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion. Outside of that one time, I’ve never had a complaint.

Most people order to go while some take advantage of the few, perhaps four or five, cafeteria style tables to enjoy their meal. There’s a flat screen TV if you care to catch up on the news, and the story of Goldberg’s on the wall. They also have a small outdoor seating area.

Caution: like most good places to eat, it gets busy and you will have to wait in line. You can call ahead if you’d like, but I’ve often found it takes a few tries before someone answers the phone during a rush. I, personally, don’t mind standing in line because it usually takes me ten minutes to figure out what to order. By the time I get to place my order, I’ve often only just decided. It’s virtually painless.

If you’re feeling naughty, try their deep fried French toast. Oh my goodness! The bread is thick, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Served with butter and syrup, a small portion will most likely fill the average person as it’s so rich. I haven’t had this in a while. But I guarantee, one of these cold mornings I’ll get a hankering for this fried French toast and I’ll be sure to take a picture.

Now that I’ve discussed two local bagel stores, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Hampton Bagels on North Main Street in East Hampton. I admit, because this is the most convenient bagel store near my home, I do frequent the place. However, the parking on the side is ridiculous, I will only stop if I can park in front. Your order may need to be repeated several times, and even though your order is written down, you may not always get what you asked for. The line quickly gets long and, because it serves little more than bagels and sandwiches, I get bored. The coffee is mediocre and service is not normally with a smile. The staff looks harried when it’s busy. Yet, if you find you’d like to be a regular here, I’d get to know someone behind the counter. Your chances of receiving the right order and a smile are greatly improved with a little banter. Hampton Bagels has an interesting “text in your order” feature that I’ve been too afraid to try. The next time you stop in, grab a card on the counter and try texting in your order. The card promises it will save you time.

The bagels, flagels, bialys, and salt sticks are pretty good and there’s a wide assortment, as well as a vast array of types of cream cheese. You can see them making the bagels right in front of you in the ovens when it’s busy, as well as the freshly made orange juice. To be clear, Hampton Bagels is a decent bagel store, but there are some staff and parking issues when it gets busy.

If you’d like more information about any of the aforementioned, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer.

Thank you!

Take Out

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With football season here, friends and I have been getting take out food and bringing it home to watch the game(s). Here are two places we’ve gotten food to go lately and our experience.

First, the Meeting House in Amagansett Square. Always consistently good. You have a selection of small and large plates, and a decent wine list. When eating there in person, I found the portions to be adequate. When we got take out, it appeared we’d ordered the mac & cheese from the children’s menu, and not the large plate that cost $17. However, if you’re a mac & cheese fan, you must try this. Another large plate item we ordered was the pan roasted strip steak au poivre for $41, cooked to perfection, and the cold Thai peanut soba with cilantro and cucumber, $18, was delicious. For small plates we tried the Tuscan kale with apples, ricotta salata, toasted pumpkin seeds, and maple vinaigrette for $13. A winner for kale enthusiasts and received a thumbs up from our non-meat eating friends. What went over just as well was the vegetable curry with basmati rice, $15. It wasn’t too spicy. I would put it in the mild side for a curry. If you like an extra hit of spice, I’d ask if they could could accommodate you. A vegetarian favorite. Overall, we enjoyed the food and figured the slightly high priced items were balanced with the not so highly priced items. The steak was a good size for a large plate meal. Our only complaint being we felt shorted on some of the dishes. But take it home and put it out on your own plates, perhaps add some garnish, and decide for yourself. Remember, when ordering meat to go, ask for it at least one temperature less done than you’d normally like it as it continues to cook in the container until you get it home. You can always pop it under the broiler if you find it hasn’t cooked enough to your liking.

The next time we had take out most recently, it was from the Indian Wells Tavern on Main Street in Amagansett. I’ll start off by saying the food was okay. But the attitude of the staff really stunk. They were rude and condescending at best. When I’ve been a patron many times in the past, I never noticed anything but polite service. Perhaps it was the thought of a take out order that turned everyone off, as most people don’t tip. And, by-the-way, I never order food to go when it’s likely busy. Anyway, we ordered the onion soup au gratin which was typical, but too salty for my taste, $8. The mussels with fries which were steamed in a broth of white wine, garlic and butter were nothing spectacular. It’s not indicated on the menu, but it looked and tasted like they added coconut milk to the sauce, which didn’t add much flavor, $12. You have a choice with the Tavern wings of buffalo style, BBQ, or honey spiced. We chose to have buffalo wings, which apparently only come in one degree of spiciness. I would call it medium. It’s served with the usual blue cheese dressing, carrots and celery sticks, $10. The Asian chicken potstickers were good. The wrappers were crisp and on the thin side, not heavy. When dining in, I usually order these as an appetizer to share. It normally comes with three sauces, sweet chili and two kinds of soy sauce. I like to dip mine in both. Oh, it seems you only get two dipping sauces when ordering to go, but it was fine. For the $8, it’s a treat. For entrées, we chose the fish and chips, $17, and a bad choice for take out as the once crispy crust gets steamed in the container and is soggy by the time you get it home. The house smoked ribs at $23 were another favorite. They weren’t overly sweet or smokey and had a nice kick to them. We also tried the Tavern burger. A half-pound char-grilled, $13. You’ll notice on the menu it states the ground meat is from Cromer’s. If you don’t know, Cromer’s is one of the better meat markets on the east end. The burger was cooked medium rare and came out juicy. We chose sweet potato fries as an accompaniment and they were the first things gone. Lastly, we had the blackened shrimp, avocado, and mango salsa quesadilla. Very flavorful with a nice hint of spice, but not too overwhelming, $14.

These are two very different restaurants and atmospheres. I don’t mean to compare apples to oranges. I only want to give you a sense of our overall take out experience, and what we found desirable, and that which we did not. I hope you stop in both establishments and decide for yourself. Add our favorites to your list.

Oh, before I sign off here, let me tell you or a good restaurant that offers take out, but only of certain items, Michaels’ of Maidstone, better known simply at Michaels. I’ll review this soon. But as far as take out goes, don’t try to order the delicious dim sum as they say it doesn’t carry well. Other similar dishes on the menu that they deem don’t carry well are forbidden to be eaten outside the restaurant. I understand the reasoning. But I’d like the opportunity to try to reheat it at home and give it a shot. 🙂