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Merry Christmas people! Kulanini took a short Christmas break and is now back with a bang! You aren’t even ready for the giveaways, an even better website and amazing content! We are closing this year with some exciting posts! I will try and post as many possible before the year ends. Then again, that’s only a few days away! Today, we visit a famous Mexican Restaurant here in Nairobi: Fonda Nbo found on Limuru Road at Rosslyn Riviera Mall.

Fonda is a synonym to words like ‘bistro’ and ‘inn’. However, in Mexico, Fonda began as a place where locals (passers-by & neighbours) can enjoy authentic food from locally sourced ingredients based on age-old recipes. This was traditionally done in homes but has now evolved to comfortable upscale surroundings and even towns.

The consistency seen at Fonda is un-believable. The colours, materials used, decor, utensilts, architecture etc. It is all one. For Fonda, colours of: red, blue and yellow are seen throughout.

The ‘O’ in the word ‘Fonda’ is designed in such a way that it has the restaurant logo. This logo is made from a ‘molcajete’ which is a Mexican stone tool (mortar and pestle) for grinding spices. In it, are chillies shaped in an ‘X’. Chillies are very important in the cooking of nearly all Mexican meals. Yes. They like their food hot. In fact, not just hot but very hot!

The letter ‘X’ is significant to Mexicans, because it is one of the things they have never changed. Even after colonization, Mexicans have retained the letter’X’ in their vocabulary and to date still pronounce it. For this reason, Fonda has ensured this is depicted throughout. Countries like Spain on the other hand, pronounces ‘x’ as ‘j’.

‘X’ is seen on the tables, chairs and even the logo! Any Mexican would feel that Fonda has honoured the letter ‘X’ just as they do.

In Mexico there are three readily available raw materials used in construction: glass, clay and wood. Fonda’s double ceiling (very high) is made from sisal ropes which is also a widespread design in Mexico! Their glass was done by Kitengela Hot Glass, their pottery by Nanyuki Muthaiga Ceramic Centre, and the wood works by Francis Kinyua.

In as much as everything at Fonda Nbo accurately depicts a restaurant in Mexico, all materials were sourced locally. An integral part of Fonda is its commitment to buying local products. Be it potters, carpenters, glass makers, artists etc., it is ALL local! This really made me a proud Kenyan because it showed me how talented we are in this country.

The setting of a typical Fonda in Mexico is along the streets. This way, the place is often busy and has other shops surrounding it. This has been shown at Fonda through the open display with branded ceramics, glasses, tiles, clay utensils and even t-shirts for sale! You can get a piece of Fonda to carry back home with you and support the local artists at once!

There are three sitting areas at Fonda:El Mercado, La Veranda and La Zona Cultural. El Mercado is the area you meet once you walk in to the restaurant. The design allows guests to feel the hustle and bustle of a typical Mexican marketplace. The open kitchen gives the guests a chance to see how the talented chefs prepare the Mexican dishes. While on your high seat at this long farm table, you get to see the whole Fonda kitchen; which I must say is, sparkling clean!

Second is La Veranda that houses the bar and several tables and chairs. This area appreciates classic Mexican architecture and gives the guests a chance to experience a Mexican outdoor sitting area. The famous inspiration wall set on a bright yellow wall draws all the attention. The black & white images of Mexicans doing various activities that revolve around the kind of food put before you were taken by the directors on their quest to learn more about Mexico, the people, food and restaurants!

A small area (veranda) overlooks the main road and can be said to be more outdoors than the rest of this area. However, the whole ‘La Veranda’ seems to be outdoors since there are high transparent windows (that open) on one end and a verandah on the other. In addition to this, the floor really gives an outdoor feel.

Have you ever seen a bar this huge? Bars often have 3-5 seats. Not Fonda. They know how popular aguas frescas (traditional Mexican drinks) are, and so didn’t compromise on the space the bar got! I love the way the drinks are displayed in large glass containers and the bottled ones, in a hanging steel case hanging over the bar. It makes the bar less cluttered and provides for easy picking and returning of bottles. Genius right?

There is a Mezanine floor above this one that has been set aside for events and doubles as a Mexican museum -La zona cultural. The things in the museum (glass cases) were brought from Mexico. They were used as blueprints to create the pottery and art for this restaurant. This makes them more than just artefacts. They are the starting points for all hat Fonda is. The decor, just like downstairs is locally sourced but designed to depict the Mexican theme.

From the wall of sugar skull lights, the Mexican artefacts, the hanging ceramic bowls and the ‘God of Death’ skull, this museum has to be my favourite part about this restaurant.

Sugar skulls because sugar is abundant in Mexico. They use these, to honour their dead. Their bright and coourful nature represent the kind of life they had before their death.

Lady Catrina – the famous skeleton dame who is both beautiful in some ways and scary in others, is the referential image of death in Mexico.

God of the dead is another character seen during the celebrations of the day of the dead. He is considered important since all souls are believed to one day meet him face to face.

The aztec calendar is the traditional Mexican calendar that uses a triple calendar system to give a list of important religious festivals and sacred dates. Here we see variations of the same. Some made from glass, others clay, others as paintings.

I would like to give my most sincere appreciation to Fonda Nbo for allowing this comprehensive review to happen. Salisha and Yash, ensured I was comfortable and understood Fonda as well as possible. Thanks guys! To better understand how this restaurant came to be, I suggest you follow them on Facebook. They are always posting very interesting pieces on Mexico, Mexicans and their food!

The food review will be up next! Stay tuned! Thank you for stopping by!

4 thoughts on “Fonda Nbo – Mexican Restaurant.

  1. Manjula says:

    Your article elucidates I detail the beauty, effort and passion in making of Fonda NBO

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