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Jan 3, 2006 10:55 AM


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I went to Fonda on Solano last night for the first time. The vibe is not as hip or upscale as Cesar, the wine list is not as good, the wines by the glass less interesting, overpriced and not that good, but...
Every single thing we ordered was outrageously delicious, the flavors were clean, and the taste combinations were interesting. Scallops, shrimp, salad, duck tacos, tamale, all served hot, well paced, friendly service, nothing but goodness on a plate. The sauces accompanying each dish were really tasty. The cook there is very talented. We washed it down with a bottle of Green and Red, as the aformentioned wines by the glass list was weak and overpriced. They seem to have a large mixed drink selection, and the mixed drinks and martinis are large, but I am not a hard liquor type of guy...
If you have not been, check it out.

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  1. I agree. I was at Fonda last month and could make a meal from their guacamole and chips alone. On the other hand I wouldn't order wine with that food, margaritas all the way.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LizK

      I agree. Lalime's, Sea Salt, T-Rex (the other restaurants, along with Jimmy Beans, that are "sister restaurants" of Fonda) -- yes; but I can honestly say I've NEVER ordered wine at Fonda . . . Tequila (shots or Margaritas) or Rum (Mojitos or shots) . . . but not wine.

      Fonda *does* have great food, and I am a wine guy -- 35 years ITB -- and Fonda is pretty much the only place I have hard liquor *with* my meal.

      1. re: zin1953

        I always drink wine there. The fried and meat dishes go well with wine and they have some nice stuff by the glass.

      2. re: LizK

        And then we wonder why we don't see many upscale Mexican places north of the border.

      3. Stopped by Fonda's for the first time last night after going to the Wine Tasting at Solano Grill & Bar (featuring Italian wines, which is very fun by the way and a great price). Quick report: Since I had heard so much about the place I was really looking forward to it, but unfortunately, my friend and I were still pretty full and tipsy from our start at the wine tasting so we didn't get to try as much as we normally would.

        First I guess we got there pretty early around 6:30 so things were surprisingly quiet still. I was expecting the famous Fonda's atmosphere...but that did come later as the restaurant filled up to capacity. I did take note that it was a fun atmosphere, and that the crowd as far as I could tell was completely under 35 years of age.

        We already had our fill of alcohol for the night so we settled on getting a virgin mojito and a horchata. The Mojito was ok but left me with a funny after taste,so I'm definitely never getting another virgin mojito again. My companion liked her Horchata and thought it was nice and light.

        We only ordered 4 things, the goat cheese, beets and watercrest salad topped with crispy tortillas, the duck tacos, some fresh corn tortillas and finished off with the chocolate cake. The salad was a surprise, I think that was the first watercrest my friend has had and she enjoyed the different flavors and textures. The duck tacos were great, very flavorful, tender and the poblano salsa went perfectly with it and had the right amount of heat. The tortillas were fun to eat but not that tasty and but they had an inexplicably tough almost hard border on the edges. Lastly the chocolate cake, which I think tried to be a souffle was perhaps the biggest disappointment. the cake itself was only ok, not quite a sweet as I would have liked, and it was served with some fresh whipped cream that was also too bland and didn't quite have the right consistancy.

        (total bill with tip came out just under $40)

        The service was decent and the atmosphere was busy without getting too loud but for me the food was good but not spectacular. Still, the rest of the menu intrigued me so I'll have to come by again for a better sampling of the food.

        9 Replies
        1. re: nicedragonboy

          Went for the first time on the Friday night, I finally understand why it is a fun place but also a place that empty your wallet easily. The tuna tartare was okay and grilled hailbut was only so-so. The duck taco was tender and juicy; it was half price after 9pm, a great bargain. It definitely helped lowering my bill somewhat. The tamarinds creme buree was creamy and good; yet because of the tangy sour taste, I could not help comparing it with cheesecake and think it was not as good.

          For such a busy restaurant, the service was very good. our waiter was very attentive and fun. Somehow our waiter read our mind and saw through our little disappointment on the dessert, he gave us a warm chocolate cake on the house. To me, the fresh whipped cream was the highlight, rather than the cake itself. I told myself that I have to thank him on here.. but.. I was too sugar high to remember his name.

          Overall, it is a great place to have a drink and a small bite. Having a full meal could be expensive, but just think of it as paying for services.

          1. re: maoliu

            I really don't eat full meals there because we usually look at each other asking "are we full yet? knowing the bill is inching up to $100. However, last night included, when needing a late bite (the only thing still open), a couple of drinks, chorizo burgers (great) some guac/chips (very good) and some wings left us quite satiated, at only $30something. My friend's $10 pisco sour a few days back was horrible, which was a first for a drink out of their bar.

            1. re: maoliu

              That tamarind creme brulee is just wrong. It tastes like creme brulee that turned bad.

              They are now open for lunch and the tortas are amazing ... really amazing.

              Those wings are the all-time Fonda bargain.The chile pumpkin seeds ($3) are a nice snack at a good price.

              The rum flight is just lovely and is sort of a bargain if ordering the top of the line rums.

              Has anyone had the mezcals? Any recs?

              1. re: rworange

                Actually, I have tried a few of their mezcals and as soon as I get back there and figure out what it was that I was drinking, I'll let you know.

                As far as the prices - there is no denying that Fonda is not cheap. It hurts me to pay $13 for their Calmado, but it's good and and i'm weak and I just can't help it. And for the food, good seafood is expensive, so if price is an object - why order it? Isn't the halibut $12 or $13 for a piece of fish half the size of your palm? Order things that come in multiples if you want to be full and don't want to spend a lot - quesadillas, tostaditas, duck tacos. The vegies - I especially like the broccolli and the beans - are downright inexpensive. I had the sweet and savory vegetable huarache ($9) last time I went which is a mixture of vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower, and a few others I can't remember) which are grilled, sauteed in a savory cream sauce, and then spooned over thick, fried corn tortillas (they reminded me of sopes) covered with shredded lettuce, cojita cheese, and crema. Although a few of the vegies were a little al dente for my taste, I still ate half and thought I was going to explode.

                Oh, and you can't go wrong with the Happy Hour menu. The number of wings you get never ceases to surprise me.

                (And, yes, I do know I should probably change my tag to 'FondaGroupie' or something along those lines)

                1. re: rworange

                  What a relief to hear someon compare the tamarind creme brulee as something turned bad. 'cause I never a big fan of cheesecake. :D

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      The three I had with the normal price per glass ...
                      Rhum Clèment XO…..20.00
                      Murray McDavid Jamaica 13yr…..14.00
                      Cadenhead Green Label…..12.00

                      Here's my impression based on total rum ignorance

                      It seems Fonda re-thought the rum flights and instead of one $14 for three ... pick any rum ... they now offer two flights ...


                      Cruzan Single Barrel, Rhum Clèment Premiére Canne y Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 10

                      Cadenhead Green Label, Rhum Clèment XO y Ron Del Barralito 3 Star 16

                      They just added mezcal & cachaca flights

                      Minero, Pechuga y San Luis Del Rio 20

                      Chichicapa, Crema y Santo Albarrada 12


                      Tres Pingas
                      Agua Luca, Leblon y Pirapora 3yr 10

                      I really like the flight structure for different liquors. There are more but they don't list all the liquors on the website which I wish they would.

                      They are also having a Cachaça summer drink thingy going ... I'm up for the cherry caipirinha

                      By the end of the summer I hope to finally correctly pronouce caipirinha

                      It seems also that lunch is a work in progress. There's now an afternoon, ahem, siesta from 3-5
                      Don Julio Reposado y sangrita & ½ dz.oysters 10
                      A bucket of 4 Coronitas & guacamole, salsa and chips 10

                      I like this place too much. Ya notice I didn't include it in my gentrified Mexican food list though truth be told, it is. Just don't think of it as Mexicna food.

                      1. re: rworange

                        They have some pretty good Rums! I have to make it down there... I've been unsuccesfully trying to taste Rums every chance I get (usually on business trips)... and never seem to encounter a bar that has anything better than the usual cocktail-level brands.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          They serve them in these cool little cordial type of snifter glasses which seems to intensify the bouquet. That tray of rums smelled so wonderful.

              2. I saw a sign yesterday that they are now open for lunch. They don't have a lunch menu online yet and I'm wondering if it's the same as dinner. Anyone been?

                1. I haven't been for a while, but thought the food was good too. However, I was with a group of 4 and we were frustrated by the size of things - small portions and often in groups of 3, so we couldn't each try something unless we got 2 orders of it. I remember having some dish with sirloin in it - the most expensive thing on the menu- and being suprised at how tiny the items were.

                  1. Try going there for Happy Hour! Starts at 9:00 p.m., and some of the regular menu items drop significantly in price

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