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La Fuente: A Mexican favorite moves west

An active fountain beneath a skylight is the focal point of one of the dining areas for La Fuente Restaurant.

An active fountain beneath a skylight is the focal point of one of the dining areas for La Fuente Restaurant. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Oct. 27, 2010

In the restaurant business, reputation goes a long, long way. When the Zarate family opened the original La Fuente restaurant in Walker's Point in 1991, it quickly gained a reputation as one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee. It was not uncommon for people to wait quite a while to get a table.

For years, customers encouraged the Zarate family to expand and bring their accessible Mexican cuisine to the west side. Finally, their wish has come true: La Fuente West is now open for business.

Manager Cecilia Zarate said customers are thrilled with the new La Fuente location at 92nd Street and Blue Mound Road.

"They've said: 'Thank you, thank you, thank you!' Some have come from as far away as Hartford, and now it's not such a long drive."

Judging by the crowds and the hard-to-find parking during the first week, La Fuente West is going to be extremely successful. If you don't plan ahead, you'll likely have a bit of a wait. But don't worry, there's a friendly bar area and margaritas a-plenty to make that wait a little more tolerable.

The last time I was in this building, it was Monreal's. I remember it as being very dark and smoky, even during lunch hour. Of course the statewide smoking ban has eliminated that nuisance, and a fresh coat of paint has gone a long way to brighten up the interior.

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, the new restaurant has exactly the same menu as the original, featuring standard Mexican favorites. Some of the more popular dishes include steak or chicken fajitas ($14.95), The Chimichanga Dinner ($12.45) and Caldo de Camaron or shrimp soup ($12). There are a variety of combinations - the most popular being No. 3, an enchilada, chimichanga and taco ($10.10).

Margaritas are available in a variety of flavors, including original, rainbow, peach, melon, strawberry, blue moon and raspberry. Specialty tequilas also are offered.

For those unsure whether the new La Fuente West will be true to the original family "recipe," Cecilia Zarate assures them, "The new location is exactly like the original only closer to home."

Given the nearly two decades of success the Zarate family has had, I'm pretty sure you can count on that.

The Basics

NAME: La Fuente West

ADDRESS: 9155 W. Blue Mound Road

PHONE: (414) 771-9900

WEBSITE: ilovelafuente.com

FARE: Mexican

FOOD HOURS: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday

BAR HOURS: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday to Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $7 to $18

LOOKING TO 'GRAB A BITE'?

"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a "date night" or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a future column, e-mail her at kmwaldkirch@yahoo.com.

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