This visit to Fonda would be my third Mexican experience in Melbourne. My very first Mexican meal here was at Los Amates Mexican Kitchen, where we were basically “Lost Amates”… cue: *canned laughter*. Haha… it wasn’t enjoyable because we didn’t know what we were eating or how to eat it! But I really enjoyed my 2nd foray into Mexican territory, at Mamasita.
So how about you come along and ride Melbourne’s Mexican wave with me for the third time, Singapore-style? And by Singapore-style, I really meant I haven’t got the foggiest idea what’s good Mexican and what’s bad, but eat I will… again, and always!
Fonda has got the reputation of accruing intimidatingly pregnant queues by 6.30pm on most nights. So I organised for a 6pm meet-up with Shing and Christine on a Tuesday night. Good timing, it got busy pretty quick. Fit-out is simple, clean and slick. And the turnover is pretty fast as well, with many customers doing takeaways.
Pacifico $9 (Mexican beer)
You could almost look at Fonda Mexican like half a fast-food type place. Sit down with the menu, order and pay at the counter, take a number with you, the food will come shortly. Want more food? Then order at the counter again and quote your number.
There is a noticeable lack of dessert on the menu here. Maybe it’s the Mexican way, but I think it’s more to discourage diners from lingering so that table turnover is faster.
Charred Corn $3.5
Chipotle aioli, ricotta salata, lime
So we marked our choices and ordered. First came the antojitos (street snacks). The girls enjoyed a charred corn each, I had a nibble and liked the sting of lime.
Pork scratchings, guacamole
Pork scratchings sounds so cute. But they’re basically deep fried pork rinds, crispy fresh and served with a tangy guacamole dip. Not bad.
Chipotle Chips $6
Fat chips, chipotle aioli
A generous serve of fat chips to share. I’ll have to confess that this was the dish that I remembered most from that night. They were unexplainably good. Amazing. Perfect. Not sure why we liked it so much!
6″ Fish Tacos $6
Chipotle aioli, pickled carrot/onion, cabbage
There were only three choices of tacos on the menu: braised beef brisket, fish, vegetarian. We all went with fish.
The taco was gently seasoned with fresh good fish, lightly fried, with light spices. Very nice, I even enjoyed the taco skin. Shing’s fish had a bone, but she didn’t mind.
12″ Mushroom Quesadilla $12
Local mushrooms, corn truffle, queso fresco, salsa verde
This vegetarian quesadilla was less exciting. It just tasted like a juicy mushroom pizza. Good ingredients, decent cheese, uplifting salsa, but still not a ‘wow’. Also, the salsa verde’s juices pooled at the bottom of the platter, making the bottom of each slice quite soggy.
By this point, we were defeated, we couldn’t order anymore… I think it was the incredibly yummy fat chips that filled us up so quickly.
I now understand why it’s so crowded here. The food here is simple, cooked well and very affordable. Mamasita’s fare is more edgy. But here, the food is not meant to impress, it’s just meant to satisfy. And even though I don’t know good Mexican from bad, I liked the freshness here.
It isn’t the sort of place for a relaxing slow dinner, and they don’t have dessert. But I’m happy to pop in for takeaways or a quick curiosity bite in the future. Next time, I’ll probably want to try the kangaroo fillet burrito… mmm…
But at the end of the day, I realise Mexican fare does not really satisfy me the way Asian meals do. Tacos and quesadillas are so snacky, they just don’t feel like a proper meal. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just a cultural thing.