By Matt Cushing

While it's never been easy to find great Mexican food in New York, Mexico City–born, Paris-trained chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda works it out. Expect a boisterous atmosphere that's half diners delving into enchiladas and chiles rellenos, and half bargoers starting off their night with the selection of tequila-based cocktails.

Let's get one thing straight: The guacamole is a must. Served in a molcajete and accompanied by fresh corn tortillas chips, it's creamy, decadent, and made to order with your preferred degree of spiciness. The hibiscus and tamarind margaritas are excellent dinner accompaniments for anyone not content with a classic version of the cocktail—they stand up well to the intense seasoning of the slow-roasted cochinita pibil or the pulled chicken–filled enchiladas suizas. If you're not completely stuffed on the uniformly generous portions, a slice of tres leches cake served with berries makes for a perfectly sweet end to your meal.

the crowd

A young, bustling bar crowd fills up the front of the house every evening to sip on micheladas and mezcal, while the back tends toward large dinner parties and birthday crowds clustered around long tables.

... on the side

eye for design
Boldly painted walls and wide, inviting windows make Fonda a cheery if not necessarily atmospheric location. A Christmas light–strung picket fence along the rear wall and ironic artwork are among the witty design touches that make the restaurant more suitable for a meal with friends than a date.

if I were a movie, I'd be
As sensual and winkingly self-aware as Y Tu Mamá También, without the downer ending.



dinner: Sun–Mon 5 PM–10 PM; Tue–Thu 5 PM–11 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–midnight
brunch: Sat–Sun 11 AM–4 PM

price range

$14 (Fonda burger) to $20 (camarones adobados)