Fond of Mexican?

Fonda Mexican

248 Swan Street, Richmond

Welcome at Fonda Mexican

She says
It seems like we’re running with a bit of a Mexican (or seemingly Mexican) theme recently but it’s a complete coincidence, I promise. When I saw that Fonda Mexican had opened a week or so ago on Swan Street I couldn’t wait to try, certainly not long enough to make it look like I don’t have some sort of strange mexican obsession. I’m glad I didn’t wait because I loved it and if I’d waited it would have just been that much longer until I can go again.

I should probably say up front that one of the reasons I wanted to visit Fonda was that Tim, one of the co-owners, and I went to uni together. When I say we went to uni together, we were doing the same course at the same time and have a few mutual friends but I personally barely know him so there’s not really anything for this review to be biased by, just putting it out there anyway for the sake of honesty.

Fonda is in a little pocket of Swan Street by the corner of Church Street (also home to Union Dining) that definitely seems to be on the way up at the moment with more and more shops being refitted and taking on a new life. The fit out here is young, colourful and fun. There’s also a compact courtyard at the back. I’m looking forward to going back on a sunnier day and hopefully getting a seat in the courtyard or by open street windows.

The food was exciting. The menu is small but has a good selection and the overwhelming impression I got from all the dishes that we tried was one of freshness. Everything tasted fresh, particularly the tortillas pressed used the cafe’s very impressive looking Doughpro tortilla press imported from the US.

The service was efficient when we visited, our food came out freshly made in the open kitchen within about 10 minutes of ordering. I should mention though that Fonda has been open for less than 2 weeks and they are apparently still in the process of getting all their systems set up, so if there are delays in the next couple of weeks I’d put them down to teething problems.

I can’t wait to go back and try more dishes, next time I think I’ll be going for a burrito – as much as I love tacos I’m also a big fan of good burritos and they are pretty hard to come by at trendy Mexican places, they’re a notable exception from menus at Paco’s Tacos and Mamasita. Luckily I should be able to get back soon because Fonda Mexican is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week (also open for late night snacks until midnight Friday and Saturday). I’m told that they’re hoping for the liquor license to come through next week so you’ll soon be able to enjoy some grown up beverages with your chipotle. Perfect.

Cozy courtyard

He says
So we seem to have a terrible penchant for Mexican food, which is now almost bordering on an addiction. It’s said that the first step in overcoming your addiction is to admit it, and that’s what I’m doing here. Unfortunately, if the quality of Mexican food in Melbourne continues to follow the trend exemplified by Fonda Mexican, it’s going to take a while.

The menu was beautifully simple, with a good variety of burritos and tacos; there was even an Australiana inspired Kangaroo Burrito. The only blight on the menu for me, which is probably more a commentary on my uncouthness than anything else, was a lack of nachos. The closest substitute was the chipotle & aioli covered fat chips, which were a great substitute, but there is something just deliciously cheeky about corn chips covered in cheese.

I’m really just nitpicking, Fonda Mexican was wonderful. The food swiftly appeared and was quickly demolished in a frenzy of silence and finger licking. I’m still thinking about the beef burrito now. And now. And now.

The Fonda bike

We ate
Colin Hill and I had a taco each – I had the braised pork taco with pineapple, onion, coriander and lime ($5, on the left in the photo below) while Colin had a fish taco with chipotle aioli, pickled carrot, pickled onion and cabbage ($6, on the right below). They were both delicious. The pork in mine was juicy and delicious and there was just enough pineapple, best taco I’ve had in a long time. The fish was great and so fresh, I can see why it’s apparently their most popular taco at the moment.

Braised pork and fish tacos

After the tacos we shared a chorizo quesadilla with queso fresco, jalepeno and salsa roja ($10). Again this was fresh and a great mix of flavours. It was quite spicy though, a little too spicy for Gerard.

Chorizo quesadilla

Gerard had the chopped beef burrito with beef and pork burger, black beans, salsa roja and chipotle aioli ($13.50). Gerard really liked the burrito which was pretty sizeable. The only thing that could have improved the burrito was for the chipotle aioli to be inside the tortilla, while it looked great on the top, it sent the messiness factor through the roof.

Chopped beef burrito

We shared a couple of sides, starting with the fat chips served with chipotle aioli ($5). The chips were fresh and a little crispy and worked really well with the ubiquitous chipotle aioli.

Fat chips

We also tried the charred corn with chipotle aioli, ricotta salata and lime ($3.50). The corn probably wasn’t as good as the version at Paco’s Tacos or Mamasita, but for about half the price I was still a happy camper.

Charred corn

In the end
Fonda Mexican is fresh, fun, smooth and very professional for a place that’s been open for less than 2 weeks. If you’re as much of a taco fiend or quesadilla craver as we are you’re going to love this addition to the more-authentic side of Melbourne’s Mexican scene.

Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon

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  • John ‘Mexicant’ B

    You’ve been sucked in! Nothing Mexican about this place. It would be fair to call it Modern Australican cuisine (that’s about one forth Mexican, three fourth’s every other place in Melbourne). I was tricked into going to this place thinking they actually would be serving a proper burrito. I say they call it what it is.

    • Marg

      Thanks for the comments. I haven’t spent time in Mexico so can’t really comment on authenticity, that said I think it is probably more authentic than the tex mex style food which has dominated Melbourne’s Mexican restaurants until recently. Is it the most authentic Mexican food in Melbourne? Probably not.

      I always find the idea of authenticity in food interesting though. I think that it’s something that is very hard to pin down. Obviously food differs greatly between regions in a county and over time also. Food is always evolving. For example, authentic Italian food as served 60 years ago is unlikely to be the same as food served in Italy now. In that case which is more authentic – traditional food (where the concept of ‘traditional’ is fixed at an arbitrary point in time), or food as it is eaten now?

      Maybe the more interesting question for me though is how relevant authenticity really is. I think I’ve mentioned in a few posts that personally I don’t really mind whether something is super authentic. If a restaurant takes a particular cuisine and, inspired by that, creates food and an experience that is enjoyable, I think that’s a good result.

      Authentic or not, I enjoy the food at Fonda. Maybe the issue is more about how authentic a restaurant claims to be. As long as the food and the service are good though, I’m happy!