Fuego Cocina & Tequileria D.C.

Fuego shows its saucy side

Don't skip the guacamole at Clarendon's new Fuego Cocina y Tequileria. Unlike many timid local renditions, the chunky dip ($9) has a brazen Serrano-powered heat that lingers long after the bowl is scraped clean.

Throughout the Nouveau Mexican menu, the kitchen shows prowess and daring with its spices and sauces. Capers, olives, tomatoes, thyme and a punch of jalapeños create the perky Veracruz sauce that makes flaky pan-seared red snapper ($22) a star on the menu.

The house mole sauces are also each lusty, deeply flavored combinations. Crisp duck-confit flautas ($9) are nearly overshadowed by their accompanying smoky black mole, a rich blend of dark chocolate and smoked Ancho chiles.

Plancha-grilled chicken ($19) arrives slicked with garlicky tomatillo-based green mole that's good enough to be eaten with a spoon or ladled over a side of fried plantains.

A trio of sauces–tomatillo, jalapeño and árbol–accompanies each order of tacos as well. Use the searing jalapeño to ramp up shreds of gently gamy goat ($7), and the árbol to add a slow-building heat to spit-roasted pork with pineapple salsa ($7).

Temper the heat with a Margarita from the lengthy list, or create a cocktail from the 120 tequilas at the bar downstairs.

Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 571-970-2180 or fuegova.com