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Restaurants & Bars 2

Albany – Fonda on Solano Avenue

rworange | Aug 23, 200503:05 AM

Unaware of the recent Chronicle review of Fonda, we managed to miss all the best dishes. Fonda seems more like a bar with small plates rather than a restaurant. The portions at Fonda make Sea Salt’s dishes look humongous.

We shared:

Black Mission figs with ricotta, mint and piloncillo vinaigrette
Duck tacos with guacamole and arbol salsa (2)
Blue Lake beans with lemon corita vinaigrette and queso fresco
Mango slices with lime and Flor de Caña rum

I had the Margarita Clasica (Herradura Silver tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime and simple syrup hand-shaken on the rocks). Served in a water glass with a straw this was an excellent margarita that was fresh and tart.

My friend had the Sangria de Guadelupe (Lalimes Barbera red wine, Herradura Silver tequila, Cointreau, sparkling water, fresh lime and simple syrup hand-shaken served on the rock). Also served in a water glass with straw. I had a sip of this and probably wouldn’t order it on my own because I like a more fruity sangria.

The Chron thought the piloncillo vinaigrette was too sweet for the figs and pushed this dish into the dessert category. We thought the piloncillo (from cones of unrefined brown sugar) was a perfect match to the figs and ricotta. The only quibble was the figs could have been a little riper.

Agree with the Chron that the cocktail sized duck tacos were merely fine. The duck wasn’t offensive to me (not a duck fan) and has some nice caramelized onions and cilantro. They were topped with a small dollop of guacamole which tasted fresh if not outstanding. The arbol salsa was excellent.

The green beans improved with each bite. At first the queso fresco didn’t seem to complement the dish, but we both became fans of the spicy, slightly oily hot viagrette, beans and cheese.

The mango slices came in a waterglass with a side shot of the rum. The idea was to pour the rum over the mango and when finished down the remaining mixture of mango juices, rum and lime. It was a nice light dessert, but I would have preferred the mango marinated more in the rum.

I’ve been burned too many times by tomato salads this year, so passed it by. Wouldn’t you know that’s what the Chron raved about.

There’s a reduce price menu for some drinks and small plates after nine. Prices for selected drinks are $5 and small plates are $5-$6. Fonda is open until 12:30 am seven days a week making it a great stop for a late night bite in the area.

This is a small lively (one could say noisy) restaurant/bar. There’s a small loft-like dining area upstairs. We sat downstairs which had tables and a long counter with about a dozen seats. There are a few sidewalk tables also.

Service was friendly if a little rushed. Dishes were on the table almost immediately after being ordered. Dishes were whisked off the table almost as soon as the fork was placed on the table after the last bite.

Knowing what to expect, I’ll probably go back, especially to take advantage o the after 9pm prices. I did like Sea Salt better though. The creative take on Latino food along with the use of top quality ingredients makes it worth visiting.

The link below to the Fonda website has the current menu and the recent and original Fonda review. Sous chef August Churchill took over when Mexican chef David Rosales recently left. The Chron thinks the food is as good, if not better under Churchill. The website has a little mini movie that shows glimpses of the interior and captures the noise level.

My only nit is that it doesn’t quite reach the same heights as this same category of restaurant in Mexico City. On the positive side the micro plates and light food worked for me. I don’t feel like there was a dent in my diet.

1501 Solano Avenue (across the street from Safeway)
Albany, Ca


Monday – Friday 5:30 pm – 12:30 am
Saturday – Sunday 4:000 pm – 12:30 am


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