Fa fú: Cosas Ricas in Maldonado, Uruguay
Fa fú is a match-box-sized hole in the wall with a serious cult following, tucked away in a narrow alley in Maldonado. A place for body-conscious surfer bros and overworked Punta suits to get away from overpriced artesanal pastas and greasy milanesas and grab something healthier, cheaper and quicker (fast food–> fa fu, get it?) Humble chalk-board featuring only a handful of options, hovering over a topping-bar bursting with colorful, fresh veggies, tapenades and sauces. Few (but enough) stools facing a thin wall-side bar on the inside, a few more stools lazily strewn around a window-panel bar directly on the outside. Tan youth, fresh and salty from the beach, perched on the hood of their cars parked out front, happy faces buried in over-flowing pita sandwiches. Being from the frigid-rigid Northeast, this is how I’ve always imagined beach-side food joints in much of California to be – laid back, healthy, cool.
Nachos with guacamole was a great starter to share, one that disappeared really quickly. Corn chips were thin and crispy, allowing the chunky green, citrusy and refreshing guacamole to shine through. Something to hold you over as the falafels fry…
Papas bravas were another great dish to share. Irregular, bite-size chunks of white potato boiled and fried in oil until crispy gold, drizzled with what I recall was a garlicky, slightly citrusy mayonnaise-based aioli (“no spicy”) and a very flavorful vinegary red pepper sauce ([kind of] “spicy”).
A friend got this capresse quesadilla which, although I did not try, looked very good. Crisp shell, with gooey cheese and bits of tomato poking out. Sick of capresse empanadas… what a great alternative!
And finally, what we were waiting for – the falafel, fresh out of the frier and sizzling hot. Two delicious rounds of it, loudly crunchy and golden brown on the outside with soft, dense and very comforting chick pea mash on the inside. Served with a little basket inside of a fluffy, gaping white pita (wheat available) and a bit of lettuce. Next, you personalize, adding heaps of all those delicious toppings.