Sunday, January 4, 2015
Fonda Showcases Mexican Home Cooking in West Little Rock.
When the big letters went up on the marquee a year or so ago at the old Faded Rose location (yes, it also once briefly housed Bumpy's) on Bowman Curve, I assumed it was for another bright new Mexicanesque restaurant. After all, this area of town is well known for heavy latin-like saturation, from Senor Tequila to Mexico Chiquito and all points in-between.
But as it turns out, I've been eating Fonda cooking for decades. Sorta.
See, I've grown up within this sphere of influence. My childhood home was half a mile from where Taqueria Karina sprouted up quite a while back along 65th Street. My high school years, I drove from my southwest Little Rock home to school at Parkview High, often stopping in at a little Chinese joint that had moved into an old Taco Bell location along Asher Avenue that had been painted a deep green. I often ate at Hunan on University back in the 1990s.
It turns out, the same restaurateur family has been involved in all of those.
Fonda's folks started out with the challenge of creating a Mexican restaurant in an area where Tex-Mex and Ark-Mex foods were the norm. That's how Taqueria Karina was born -- with the idea of hey, let's do a restaurant that really has Mexican food and not all those things that are on the menu at Casa Viva or El Chico.
And it worked -- though, if you didn't grow up or live in southwest Little Rock, Karina didn't really make any sort of splash at all.
We were shocked to find no cars in front of Fonda. It was 7:45 on a Saturday night. Turns out, it was a very, very strange occurrence. We just happened to hit a lull.
We had a seat, ordered beverages and the queso fundido and relaxed. Other than the waitress and a gentleman wearing a hat behind the bar, we saw no one for the first 15 minutes we were there. Hey, a place to ourselves on a Saturday night? That's marvelous.
Of course, Grav was eating his on the crispy, slightly charred curled tortilla chips that had come to the table with the stewed salsa. Yes, stewed. You know, everywhere
The menu at Fonda was surprisingly short (compared to the books you get at Casa Manana, Riviera Maya or any of a dozen other Mexican restaurants in the area), just the front and back of a single sheet. A larger single sheet covered the alcoholic beverages offered. About that time a couple of guys came in to sit at the bar, and I'm sure that menu was of help to them, but we were able to quickly absorb what was on the little menu -- a lot of pork-tastic dishes, a couple of soups and salads, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas... and things that sounded really good, such as a 19 ingredient mole, enmoladas, red snapper...
We savored the queso fundido and talked about the nice browning on the bottom and chatted back and forth while we waited, and soon received our plates. The scent of what was delivered to our tables was really hard to argue with while we took our usual photos. And then we couldn't keep our hands off each other... s... plates....
And then that lovely gentleman -- I wish I'd gotten his name -- came
We've gotta go back... there's a Sunday brunch for $10.99 that I've been told is just incredible. Honestly, though, I won't overlook Fonda again, and neither should you.
Fonda Mexican Cuisine and Tequila Bar
400 North Bowman Road
Little Rock, AR 72211