What’s on the menu at Fonda Balam, a new sit-down Mexican restaurant from the team behind the summer’s hottest taco pop-up
Name: Fonda Balam
Contact: 802 Dundas St. W., @fondabalam, fondabalam.com
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Owners: Kate Chomyshyn, Julio Guajardo, Matty Matheson, Gary Quinto and Dave Thorek
Chefs: Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo
Seating: 32 indoors, 24 on the patio
Covid-19 safety measures: Frequent sanitization, mask policy, vaccination check
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
The summer’s unmissable birria craze gave us Birria Balam, a pop-up taco shop co-signed by Matty Matheson. Fonda Balam, its final form, holds onto the excellent birria amid an expanded menu inspired by small Mexican eateries, also known as fondas. Dishes draw on street food and home cooking from Guajardo’s native city of León (and elsewhere in Mexico), and include aguachile (ceviche), killer guacamole and vuelve a la vida—a spicy seafood cocktail rumoured to cure hangovers. Think big flavours, deep spices and zingy accents across the board. Naturally, tacos and quesadillas are a highlight—like the carnitas and house escabeche pickles, made with jalapeños grown at Matheson’s very own Blue Goose Farm.
Among the fun, easy-drinking cocktails, you’ll find classics like the margarita and cuba libre, alongside a tequila-infused take on the jungle bird and a creamy horchata colada. Also: three kinds of micheladas, two house-made canned cocktails, a mostly local beer menu, and of course, Jarritos and Mexican Coke.
The entire room, designed by Emil Teleki of I-V design, centres around counter seating for casual diner vibes—it’s basically a big rectangle around a bar, complete with handy throughways for servers to navigate. Thanks to its chill vibe, it’s as good a spot for a night out as it is for a quick lunch. Cacti and colourful folk masks made by Indigenous Mexican artists line the walls. And the glass block windows? Guajardo says they bring him right back to his grandmother’s house.