248 Swan Street
I seem to get sucked into the local drinks when I’m travelling. In Vietnam, I smashed endless cups of Vietnamese coffee; India saw me chugging down chai from the most random of roadside stalls; and in Mexico, apart from the obvious one (tequila), I got rather obsessed with one horchata drink, which tasted of vanilla and cinnamon and came in large plastic bags and cups on the street – the type of vessel in which you might take a new goldfish prize home from the fair.
Now, it’s no secret that I’m a voracious reader of food blogs. And I spied that a few - okay, a lot - were talking about some new Mexican joint in Richmond that served horchata! And… the corn of my dreams. Fonda Mexican was added immediately to my wishlist.
It languished there for some time, as Swan St is not an area I’m accustomed to visit often. I’d gone to pick up a compact oven I won in a competition – world’s most useless appliance in my view, if you have an oven already. I sold it on eBay and started a stand mixer fund with the proceeds ($56 smackers) in a jar. On the way back from picking it up, with the griller oven thing ensconced safely in the boot, we were peckish and I remembered – “horchata!”
And so it was that we found ourselves ordering a serve of corn on the cob each, a beef burrito for Mr B and two tacos for yours truly – braised beef brisket and crispy fish.
And two glass jars of horchata.
The horchata ($4.50) tasted just like I remembered it – sweet, redolent of cinnamon and vanilla and with a slightly chalky taste from the rice lending it the milky white colour (which doesn’t sound as nice as it actually is, trust me).
The corn was smaller than I had expected – although for $3.50 I can’t complain. -It was as tasty as all grilled corn on the cobs are when they’re sprinkled in soft white cheese and anointed with lime. That is to say, bloomin’ marvellous.
My fish taco (heh. $6) was delicious! I enjoyed the crunchy exterior and soft fish within, and the coleslaw-esque filling provided a colourful and crunchy counterpoint to the soft corn taco. I also slapped on a bit of the spicy salsa adorning our table in a cute little jar.
The other taco I had (braised beef, $5) was tasty too but the meat arrived in two large, tough lumps, too hard for my teeth to tear through. What resulted were two very meaty mouthfuls (get your minds out of the gutter, this is a different paragraph to the fish taco sentence) and then me eating the rest of the taco tortilla by itself with no filling. Perhaps it would have benefited from some longer, slower cooking (I have a crockpot they can borrow).
Mr B found his beef burrito ($13.50!) wanting. The meat inside seems to be a cut up hamburger patty, rather than either mincemeat or pulled beef, which means that in the absence of any other strong flavourings the burrito tasted bland. No doubt it would have been improved by a spoonful or two of the hot sauce sitting on the table; but I feel like the burrito should stand on its own merits…
Overall this review is ordered for me, from the elements I liked most through to those which I thought didn’t work as well. While cheaper than Mamasita, Fonda Mexican sits awkwardly for me – the food is still quite expensive for what it is (our meal cost nearly $50 for the two of us) yet the place is fitted out like a fancy fast food joint and the menu is not very extensive (I’m pretty sure we covered the highlights in our one trip!).
If you go to Fonda Mexican, I’d suggest giving the burrito a miss like I did and order a bunch of smaller items instead. The tacos seem to be better value (dollar and taste-wise) and the corn is always a winner. I’ve also heard good things about the chipotle mayo covered chips, but honestly, when is a hot potato chip slathered in mayonnaise not a delicious thing?
And do try the horchata.