Jorge Alcocer, head chef and owner of Fuego Latino, and his family were back in the United States for one year before they decided to open their restaurant in Round Rock.
The chef had spent the previous three years in Costa Rica serving as the executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. There, Alcocer said he picked up some of the Latin American flavors and recipes that he now features at Fuego Latino.
“It was definitely a learning curve for me, to be in Latin America, and I think that’s what made me gather so many things,” Alcocer said.
During his time in Costa Rica, Alcocer said an Argentinian friend criticized his deployment of empanadas, eventually showing Alcocer how to make the beef empanadas of his hometown, Cordoba. Now, Fuego Latino offers the Argentinian empanadas—a pastry pocket filled with flank steak cooked with caramelized onions and golden raisins—on its dinner menu.
Alcocer ultimately worked with Four Seasons for more than two decades, training across several positions at separate hotels along the way. In his time with Four Seasons, Alcocer worked as garde manger, executive banquet chef, restaurant chef and executive chef.
After moving back to the United States in 2016, Alcocer opened Fuego Latino, the first restaurant he and his wife, Aracely, have opened. The couple surveyed the Round Rock dining scene, and Alcocer decided to open a pan-Latin American restaurant.
“We noticed there wasn’t a lot of Colombian, Peruvian or Cuban food. We didn’t know how people were going to react, but I think that’s what caught their eyes,” said Aracely, who serves as manager for the restaurant.
Fuego Latino’s offerings are a sampling menu of cultural Central and South American dishes, ranging from Alcocer’s take on queso fundido to ceviche. All of the dishes are made from ingredients hand-selected by Alcocer himself.
The Alcocers say the restaurant has changed noticeably year-over-year, both in menu offerings and interior decoration, and Alcocer expects that to continue.
Alcocer is already gearing up to revamp his menu with more cold-weather dishes ahead of winter, and the chef ultimately wants to add vibrant but affordable seafood options to his menu.
Ultimately the Alcocers intend to maintain the unique customer experience that Fuego Latino has cultivated over the past year.
“When you come here you’re going to find something that is different, flavors that you and I can experience in another [country],” Alcocer said.
Fuego Latino Gastropub
206 N. Mays St., Round Rock
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 6-9:30 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Mon.