What’s on the menu at Fonda Balam, a new Mexican restaurant seated from the team behind summer’s hottest taco pop-up
Name: Fonda Balam
Contact: 802 Dundas Street West, @fondabalam, fondabalam.com
District: Trinity Bellwoods
The owners: Kate Chomyshyn, Julio Guajardo, Matty Matheson, Gary Quinto and Dave Thorek
Cooks: Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo
Seats: 32 indoors, 24 on the terrace
Covid-19 security measures: Frequent disinfection, mask policy, vaccination control
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
The must-have of summer craze for Birria gave us Birria balam, a pop-up taco shop co-signed by Matty Matheson. Fonda Balam, in its final form, retains the excellent birria amid an expanded menu inspired by small Mexican restaurants, also known as fondas. Dishes take inspiration from street food and home cooking from Guajardo’s hometown, León (and elsewhere in Mexico), and include aguachile (ceviche), killer guacamole, and vuelve a la vida, a spicy seafood cocktail believed to cure hangovers. Think big flavors, deep spices, and tangy accents across the board. Naturally, the tacos and quesadillas are a highlight, like the homemade carnitas and pickles, made with jalapeños grown at Matheson. Blue Goose Farm.
Among the fun and easy-to-drink cocktails you’ll find classics like margarita and cuba libre, as well as a tequila-infused version on the jungle bird and a creamy horchata colada. Also: three kinds of micheladas, two canned homemade cocktails, a menu of mostly local beer, and of course, Jarritos and Mexican Coke.
The entire room, designed by Emil Teleki of IV design, is centered around counter seating for relaxed dining ambiences. It is basically a large rectangle around a bar, with convenient passages for the waiters. Thanks to its relaxed atmosphere, it’s just as good for an evening as it is for a quick lunch. Cacti and colorful folk masks made by indigenous Mexican artists line the walls. What about glass block windows? Guajardo says they are taking him straight back to his grandmother.