Fonda Balam


Chefs Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo turbocharge tacos (and their birria subset) at this buzzy Mexican diner.

Street Address

802 Dundas St. W

City + Province

Toronto, ON



Our server’s heavily tattooed arms emerge from a Simpsons Valentine’s T–shirt that bears amorous tongue–in–cheek slogans like “U stink, wish you were her.” Against a backdrop of retro glass–brick walls, pastel–glowing porthole lights and beaded bull skulls, a trio of women who work in web development advise us that we don’t need to order the three side salsas – two of them come with the quesabirria. Around the room, several mom–and–kid duos go to town on shrimp cocktails, while in a nearby corner, a man with a Fu Manchu moustache and round horned–rimmed glasses studies the menu.

November 1, 2022
Fonda Balam
Try your hand at the loaded quesabirria con consome; chefs Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn bid diners bienvenida.

But enough about the variegated cross–section of food–obsessed Toronto society we find in this white brick–clad Dundas West joint from a team that includes restaurant impresario Matty Matheson and husband–and–wife chef duo Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn (who also opened Grant van Gameren’s Quetzal in 2018). The real story here is its polished take on Mexican street food: so addictive you may need to go to taco rehab to kick the habit.

Those glass parfait bowls of coctel de camarón are the avocado–studded house take on shrimp cocktail, bathed in a spicy Clamato sauce. The star of the show is the aforementioned quesabirria con consome, two corn tortillas stuffed with five–hour braised beef chuck and brisket, cheese and aromatics, grilled until its edges are crispy, all of it to be dipped in consommé before eating. Scrolling Instagram while dining is not an option due to the neon–orange beef fat streaming down your wrists.

Freshly baked totopos at Fonda Balam
A margarita held against a turquoise brick wall at Fonda Balam
Housemade corn totopos, hot for the dipping and a cool Fonda margarita.

With a kitchen this crafty, we’re happy we ordered the tender tres leches sponge cake with strawberries and a vanilla and white chocolate crémeux. But the insatiable trio of web developers has already departed for the next stop on their food crawl, unaware of the treasures they have left untasted.

Coctel de Camarón Fonda Balam
Coctel de Camarón Fonda Balam

Don’t miss: The bountiful coctel de camaron, stuffed with Nordic shrimp, cucumber, red onion, jalapeño, avocado and the house’s version of spicy clamato sauce.

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