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


Steak Night @ North Bondi RSL

Paulo Coehlo wrote that ‘the simplest things in life are often the most extraordinary’. While it’s a slight stretch from profound musings of an exotic Brazilian author to Wednesday night at the local R’ie (pronounced Aah-rie), it is a reminder that the best experiences can be found in unexpected places.

Packed every Wednesday
Prime balcony tables
A generous steak and chips for eight bucks is a mid-week highlight for locals accustomed to paying what is wryly referred to as the ‘Bondi premium’. Cross the Bondi Rd / Old South Head Rd border to find that rent is higher for pokier rooms, coffee is at least $4 a pop, and if you want non-organic bread for less than $8 a loaf you’ll have to venture out of the bubble. 

Breezy ocean views, readily available tables and a cheesy selection of 80’s pop, the North Bondi RSL Steak night is a treasured tradition of locals, maintaining popularity throughout the summer heat and winter chill. The queue for steaks snakes around the tables as the essential decisions are made by patient queuers. Whether peppercorn or tomato basil, mash or fries, vegies or salad, the steak is decent quality and the delivery is super speedy.

Sal Giblin...very excited about her steak
My steak's bigger than your steak
Punters travel half way across the world to enjoy the five star views, shared with the snazzier North Bondi Italian downstairs. Buzzing with young and old, the plastic chairs and RSL paraphernalia keep the crowd casual as they admire the sunset views. In all their simplicity, combining steak, mates and spectacular sunsets on a hump day can turn out to be surprisingly extraordinary.

Blue Wave Bistro on Urbanspoon