A casual eatery that serves Latin American food (so casual that there is no ‘About Us’ section on the website), La Fonda is appealing in so many ways. It attracts a young crowd that includes Georgia Tech students, easily distinguished by their grey hoodies, slouchy jeans and sneakers. Aah, the young desi grad students, fresh faced and sincere and earnest!
We walked in late on a Thursday evening, close to 9pm. I was worried that the place may have closed but it was open and bustling. For transplanted suburbanites like us, this is a welcome surprise. Growing up in Bombay (where you can get a bite any time of the day/night), I can’t understand it when restaurants close doors by 9pm on weeknights. What if someone feels like a bite at 9:30pm on a Wednesday evening? Guess Pizza Hut is the only option. Not my favorite idea of a dining option but well, c’est la vie en suburbia.
Back to La Fonda… I had been here for lunch with work colleagues a couple of months ago. I liked the food enough to suggest to P that we come back for dinner some day. Now parking can be a challenge during busy hours (as we discovered that afternoon we went for lunch) but the night P and I went, it was not a problem as it was way past dinner time for most folks. As soon as we sat at our table, the server brought us salsa and chips. The salsa was deliciously juicy and most likely, not out of a jar… freshly made, I think. We ordered a plate of Tostones (fried plantain chips served with a garlic dipping sauce). It came fast but the dish left me unimpressed. The plantains were dry, hard and unripe. Had they been ripe and soft, the dish would have been a delight.
P ordered two vegetarian enchiladas (white corn tortillas filled with grilled squash, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, peppers, pimentos and fresh spinach, covered with chipotle and ancho chili pepper tomato sauce, topped with Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, queso blanco and cilantro) while I asked for a Bocadillo Vegetariano (Cuban sandwich with grilled vegetables, tomatoes, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and Cuban dressing on Cuban bread).
The Bocadillo Vegetariano was excellent. Who can resist a combination of grilled vegetables and rich, gooey cheese? I am not sure what the Cuban dressing comprised of or what distinguishes Cuban bread from any other kind… however, this is a great sandwich for folks who like big flavors, hearty and comforting. I skipped the beans almost entirely. It was late in the night and I didn’t fancy going to bed on a bursting stomach (the sandwich was filling enough). I sampled the yellow rice; it was perfectly cooked, each grain separate from the other, mildly spiced. P’s Vegetarian Enchiladas looked spectacular, tasted as good. I wish I could remember something significant about either dish but I cannot… All in all, satisfying dishes. And it is always great to read this on the menu ‘Our yellow rice and black beans are vegetarian.’ Thank you, La Fonda.
Couldn’t have skipped dessert, could we? I asked for a plate of Churros served with chocolate dipping sauce. Lovely looking dish, I agree. But P wasn’t inclined to even take a bite and I couldn’t eat more than half a stick. Sigh.
Would I go back to La Fonda Latina? Oh, yes. I am already looking forward to the next visit with our friends J & J and their little munchkin, M. I think they’ll enjoy the vibrant flavors, casual vibe and the long list of vegetarian offerings as much as I did!
La Fonda Latina
1025 Howell Mill Rd.