If you don’t like Mexican cuisine, then firstly, well I don’t know what is wrong with you, and secondly, seriously, what is actually wrong with you?
There’s no doubt Melbourne is the city when it comes to having a crack at Mexican cuisine (outside of Mexico, that is), with amazing spots like Mamasita, Acland Street Cantina and Radio Mexico.
And, recently joining the party on Flinders Lane, is the third member of the Fonda family. Which is great because, when it comes to finding a healthy, casual, accessible and affordable Mexican option (minus bland corn chips dripping with fake cheese), I find Fonda ticks all the boxes.
As a lover of the other two Fonda venues in Richmond and Windsor, when I heard Fonda was opening its doors in the CBD, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for their third incarnation. I rarely dine in the CBD due to being extremely impatient and I just can’t justify waiting two to three hours for a table.
I was lucky enough to be taken through the Fonda menu with co-founder Tim McDonald, who took advantage of a missing food niche in Australia after travelling through America sampling their fresh and flavoursome take on the cuisine.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, isn’t this girl meant to be blogging about healthy and nutritious options in Melbourne? Surely eating in a Mexican restaurant has to be impossible if she is to truly fulfil her mission statement? Well no. It just so happens that there are plenty of options on the Fonda menu that won’t send your arteries into overdrive.
How does the third Fonda Mexican restaurant compare to its predecessors?
The concept of ‘fonda’ – a Spanish term that translates literally to small restaurant or inn, which the owners have given a family twist to believing that “our house is your house” – is certainly portrayed through the warm, inviting and funky vibe of the restaurant. Although the latest addition to Flinders Lane can seat up to 200 people, the non-commercial feel that Fonda is known for is echoed throughout.
The menu features your favourites from the other venues and no love is lost in the dishes. The fish taco, filled with market fresh fried rockling, chipotle aioli, pickled carrot, onion and cabbage, remains the bestseller and indulging in one or four is a must for anyone visiting the place.
For the fellow health-conscious out there, the chickpea or grilled chicken ensaladas are gluten-free and busting with fresh ingredients and flavour. Plus they are big enough to constitute a meal in itself.
All of the burritos come filled to the brim with super foods – Tasmanian quinoa and spiced black beans – a welcomed change from a bland rice filling.
It was also great to note that all of the tortillas, guacamole and chilli sauces are made in-house. While Tim admits this is labour-intensive, it eradicates the need to add additional nasty preservatives, sugars, salts and oils, so you won’t leave feeling sluggish and bloated.
So what to wash it down with? The menu lists a variety of aquas frescas (‘fresh waters’) – refreshing natural cordials made in-house from fruits, cereals and blended with cane sugar and water. My favourite was the cucumber and lime, which combats the Mexican spice well.
The cocktails listed on the menu mostly avoid any nasty additional sugar and calories. Try the Mexican Stand Off – an amazing blend of vodka, fresh lime juice, mango, agave, coriander and chilli.
If you are feeling adventurous, and perhaps on your way into the city for the night, go for a shot of mezcal – better known as tequila’s smoky cousin!
The latest venue in the Fonda phenomenon is definitely a welcome addition to Flinders Lane for quick and fresh Mexican cuisine, and YES you can still eat clean!
* Please note – this review did not include any side orders of tortilla chips and guacamole, which are also both amazing, but not so calorie friendly!