Over a decade ago, Tim McDonald and Dave Youl were on a mission to satisfy their cravings for fresh, flavour-packed Mexican food in a venue that felt like home.
When they noticed a gap in the Australian market, a light-bulb moment followed. The pair set off on a culinary expedition across Mexico, scouting the best bites and most welcoming hangouts in the country. Returning inspired, with full bellies and big dreams, the duo dived into their restaurant venture. Fonda was born. Transporting the heart and soul of Mexico to Australian shores, Fonda burst onto the scene in 2010 with a flagship in Swan Street, Richmond.
The monumental launch attracted hour-long queues and earned the brand a cult following. Fonda has since become synonymous with perfected Mexican street food, with standouts including its legendary tacos and moreish margaritas. Following enormous consumer demand, nine restaurants have opened across Sydney and Melbourne.
Locations include Richmond, Windsor, Hawthorn, Knox, Chadstone, Flinders Lane, Collingwood, Surry Hills and Bondi, and for Fonda fans with an appetite for more – watch this space! No matter which restaurant diners head to, they can expect Fonda’s signature relaxed atmosphere, welcoming hospitality, and playful décor popping with bright injections of colour. In Mexico, a ‘Fonda’ is a home that serves the community delicious and simple food that has been lovingly prepared.
Inspired by this concept, Fonda’s menu encourages guests to take a memorable culinary journey together, fuelled with high-quality, fresh, Australian produce. Hungry diners’ only task is to pick from the extensive list of fan favourites found on the eat-in and takeaway menus. The coveted offering includes market-fresh fish tacos, herbed mushroom quesadillas, slow-cooked beef brisket burritos, grilled corn, and nachos with house-made guacamole and pico de gallo, to name a few.
A show-stopping cocktail list transports diners to a beachside Mexican bar, where thirsts can be quenched by an impressive range of margaritas featuring classic, chilli mango and watermelon & lime, alongside a selection of Cerveza, cider, local vino and non-alcoholic beverages. Inside the kitchen, Tim and Dave have nurtured the hospitality teams like their own family, building a positive and engaging culture that glows from the inside out.
What sets Fonda apart from the competition extends far beyond the menu. The commitment to its guests and dedication to continually inspiring and developing its team is what delivers the unique experience diners know and love.
As the saying goes, “mi casa, su casa”, so head to a Fonda near you to experience the Mexican magic.
Congratulations on the ongoing success of Fonda! How did the idea for the restaurant first originate?
Dave and I knew there was a bit of a gap in the market for some deliciously fresh Mexican food, that wasn’t that classic Tex Mex style, heavy, greasy and full of sour cream or cheese. So we put a bit of time into researching and sampling our way through Mexico and then came back to Australia with a pretty clear idea of what we were looking to achieve and within 6 months we opened up our Richmond store (which was 2011).
What do you think makes the restaurant so special and such a ‘go-to’ for Melbourne food lovers?
We really try and make Fonda accessible to everyone, and truly want everyone to feel at home when they walk through our doors. We drive the ethos of Mi Casa Su Casa through everything we do. This is also extended beyond just welcoming our guests, it’s also about ensuring our staff (or Fondarians as we like to call them) enjoy coming to work, feel supported and are genuinely having a good time.
So I think this positive environment we aim to create helps ad to the overall guest experience at our stores.
This great atmosphere we create from the inside out, paired with our location’s unique fit-outs, tasty tacos and a killer marg is just an overall good time really.
If you had to pick – what would be your favourite dish and favourite cocktail?
I have a soft spot for one dish, when we first opened, we had a kangaroo burrito on the menu which to me really summed up what we were trying to do with Fonda and play on a bit of blurred line with Mexican food.
But in terms of current items, I love the pork quesadilla, the pineapple salsa really adds a pop of freshness and it’s just super tasty. Then my favourite cocktail would have to be the watermelon and Lime margarita, again its just super fresh and it goes with everything.
Describe the menu in 3 words.
- Bloody Delicious
What’s next for Fonda?
Oooooo, I can’t reveal too many secrets, the marketing team won’t be too happy with me but there are definitely new stores on the horizon and we may even be exploring a new state to venture into, so watch this space.