FONDA SOLANA FLASHBACK – Cinderella’s Mexican Feast & the Fairytale Ending

Not much left for the photo
of this Tequila laced concoction

It’s been almost two years, and I still salivate over the duck tacos.  The menu at Fonda Solana in Berkeley is a fascinating blend of elevated latin flavors, all served simply in shared-plates style.   They call it Mexican food, but it is so much more than that.

The occasion of my visit to Fonda (it seems they have all but dropped the Solana) was my daughter’s reunion with both her long-time paramour (now recently acquired husband) and the West Coast.  She’d missed the flavors of California and was needing a bit of reminding.  Dining out at Fonda Solana was just the ticket.  So we made our reservations and six of us headed there for drinks and delights.

Posole? Chicken soup?
Whatever they called it, it was delicious

What she didn’t know, but the rest of us did, was that next month, during her much-anticipated return to California, the boy would ask the girl to marry him. Their story was one of timing, and it was finally right.  Patience and commitment had brought this particular fairy-tale full circle.

But back to the food.  We ordered well, and soon found ourselves sated with the magnificent libations offered at this establishment.  As the courses came, we ooh-ed and ahhh-ed at the lovely presentations and blissfully developed flavors.  At the time I went the restaurant was one of the K-12 group that includes Lalimes and T-Rex (the latter having recently undergone a change in ownership).  To date, I have found a delightfully reliable uniformity of excellence in all restaurant establishments bearing the K-12 stamp.  Each one was worth a visit, many have seen return trips by this diner on the hunt for a food adventure.

The remarkably decadent
duck taco

Among my favorites of the menu we sampled included delightful empanadas drizzled in creme fraiche, hot fried cheese sticks full of oozy goodness while being light and airy as a creampuff, and a heavenly duck taco that incorporated pomegranate into the seasoning.  The duck taco was a revelation in flavors, but everything else was likewise delicious.

It was a magnificent way to relaunch my eldest child back into her native state and its myriad cuisines.  Mexican is something she felt she could never get in New York City, at least not to her California standards.  I can’t imagine NYC doesn’t have any good Mexican food, but on a budget perhaps extremely hard to find.  We reconnected over shared secrets and delicious food.  These are precious memories, which is I suppose why the surface now, on the almost two month anniversary of her nuptials with the lovely young man in the scene.

We talk often of food being love, and yes it is.  It can conjure love, secure love, bind love and remind us of times when we were loved.  It reminds of those who prepared it, the people we shared it with.  Our senses are so moved by the aromas, and the tastes can transport us to moments long gone but that will never be forgotten.  It is a meme I repeat, because it is like breathing.  Food and fond memories. The fabric of life.

Fonda Solana is a great meal if you like Mexican flavors, but don’t expect platters of heavy beans and rice.  The food here is delicate, though the flavors pack a whallop.  Pay it a visit and check it out, make a memory of your own.

Mexican “Wedding” cookies anyone?

Fonda Solana
1501 Solano Avenue
Albany, CA
510-559-9006
http://www.fondasolana.com

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