Remember that time we went to Virginia Plain? Awesome, right? Then that other time we went to the equally as awesome (and more casual) Mercy Bar & Eatery? Both of these great venues have sadly been and gone from 31 Flinders Lane, but don't cry — we've mourned and you must too. Luckily, the shiny light at the end of this tunnel is Fonda number three. Yes. Richmond, Windsor, and now 31 Flinders Lane in the CBD. The Fonda Mexican goodness, started in 2011 by David Youl and Tim McDonald, just keeps expanding with their newest venue. It's just as big as Virginia and Mercy were, but now it's bright, loud, and has that chilled Mexican vibe to it that we've come to love at the other Fonda outlets.
If you didn't know, in Mexico 'fonda' refers to a local house with an all-important open kitchen. This is very much the inspiration for the new 200-seat city venue. While the old space was dark and moody, this is deliberately the complete opposite; a raised section at the front, an exposed kitchen and fairy lights help to achieve the brightness and comfort of a (not so) humble Mexican home. Techne Architects were behind this new atmosphere, and designer Luke Henley did the branding, just as he has with the other venues.
The food menu is exactly what you'd expect when thinking of Mexican street food or if you've been to any of the other Fonda locations (the menus are the same). The tortilla crisps with guacamole and smoking salsa ($7) are a nice start, but the charred corn with chipotle aioli, ricotta salata, and lime ($4.5) is one of those must orders. You can move to either quesadillas, tacos, burritos, or salads. The chicken quesadilla with cheese, fresh tomato, rocket, and avocado crema is creamy and a very safe choice, while the braised pork tacos with fresh pineapple, onion, and coriander ($6) fulfils Melbourne's love of both tacos and pork. The burritos are slightly heartier and come with char-grilled mushroom, chopped beef, grilled chicken, or fresh market fish, and all served are with quinoa and spiced black beans.
The drinks menu is heavy on tequila, featuring the gents from Tequila Tromba. The Basil, Darling? is a frozen margarita of Tromba Blanco, orange, pineapple, basil, and lemon, while the El Diablo! is a less frozen mix of Blanco, creme de cassis, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer.
There are four beers on offer including the likes of the Mexican Negra Modelo for the dark larger lovers among us, while the wine list has eight drops all available by the glass. The likes of the 2012 Martin Codax Albarino from Spain ($11 glass), and the 2009 Free Fall Shiraz from Central Victoria ($9 glass) make an appearance, among other local and international wines.
We're eager to see how 31 Flinders Lane goes with these new tenants. We wouldn't be surprised if it changed the luck of the space.
Image thanks to @morrisclano via Instagram.