Roughly 18 months since amigos David Youl and Tim McDonald, a former fire fighter and lawyer respectively, opened their first Fonda on Swan Street, Richmond, the goodtime casa has now made room for a boisterous younger sibling in Windsor. Setting up in a space formerly occupied by the Salvation Army, the generously sized eating hall opened quietly earlier this week, on what McDonald hails as “the good end of Chapel Street”.
While Windsor’s Fonda shares the same homely ethos, commitment to freshness and – albeit slightly expanded – menu with the Richmond original, one doesn’t need to look too closely to find the differences. Where the Richmond eatery has a capacity of 55, Windsor boasts a playfully outfitted, expansive downstairs area that is blessed with an abundance of natural light (plaster on the walls was ripped back to reveal huge windows that not even the real estate agent knew existed), as well a moodier upstairs bar.
Although the crowds will be bigger, McDonald hopes their egos don’t follow suit. “We’re not pretentious. Fonda isn’t a joint where people park their fancy cars to be seen and bring their busty girlfriends for date night. People waltz in here, unaware of the difference between a taco and a burrito and pronounce the silent letters in fajita and quesadilla, but that’s how we like it! What we are is a place that is super relaxed, just not when it comes to the quality of the food.”
Speaking of food – it packs a punch. Luckily the salsas come labelled with heat warnings and an expanded range of the Mexican beverage Agua Fresca, as the menu explains, is designed to avoid one getting “spiced out of town”, which admittedly sounds like a terrible way to go.
One particular menu item – sure to grab your attention due to its cross-cultural, untraditional ingredients – is the kangaroo taco. “You won’t find kangaroo tacos in Mexico, mainly because they don’t have them,” McDonalds quips. “What they do have is ox tail, but that doesn’t mean we have to. It’s actually a very authentic trait of Mexican food to be resourceful with ingredients that are available.”
Either way, it’s not Fonda’s shtick to harp on about being the most traditional place in town. McDonald happily admits that they serve something more akin to an Australian version of an American take on a Mexican-inspired cuisine. “I get that some people are going to look at us and think we’re ‘just another Mexican place’, but the reality is that creating delicious and healthy food in a fun environment has longevity beyond the hype.”
Where the family resemblance between the two siblings is clear – honest, exposed kitchen, commitment to quick, quality nosh, a creative take on the traditional and unfailingly attractive door staff – it’s clear that this little sister won’t be content to rest in the family shadow.
144 Chapel St, Windsor
(03) 9521 2669
Sun to Thurs 12pm–10.30pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–midnight