Guest Post: Fonda Mexican restaurant, Melbourne

Guest post by Brendan Ferguson

Play word association with 'Fonda' and I immediately think of Jane, or more specifically, her 1982 workout video, which my mother flogged incessantly. For Melbournians though, ‘Fonda’ has recently taken on a different meaning. 

The literal translation of ‘fonda’ in Spanish is ‘inn’, which goes some way to describing the latest addition to Melbourne’s burgeoning Mexican food scene. But Fonda is more than just an ‘establishment providing food and drink’ (as ‘inn’ may be defined) – Fonda is an establishment providing braised pork tacos, grilled chicken and quinoa burritos and frozen margaritas.

Conceived by unlikely restaurateurs, Tim McDonald (lawyer) and Dave Youl (fireman), Fonda benefits from the input of Mexican chef, Lupita Manzo, striking a creative balance between Tex-Mex and awesome. The kangaroo burrito – or burrooto – leaps off the menu ($14), while Fonda’s rockling taco – the Fonda-ling, as McDonald has dubbed it – generates most hype amongst diners ($6). And rightly so. The soft-shell taco is served open, revealing the lightly crumbed fish swimming in chipotle aioli and topped with a zesty salad mix.

Stepping into the narrow, Swan Street shopfront, one can’t help but be happy. The bright yellow walls and fluorescent trimmings demand it, compelling you to order a golden side of charred corn ($3.50). Lathered with chipotle aioli and finished with grated ricotta, the cob comprises several hundred, miniature flavour explosions.

Fonda’s trendy clientele are trumped only by the denim apron-clad kitchen staff. One gets the sense that McDonald and Youl know every customer, and as summer rolls in and the cerveza starts flowing, Fonda’s courtyard will surely be heaving. Which suits the owners just fine. After all, as the laneway graffiti declares, “mi casa [es] su casa.”

Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon