Fonda Lupita, the lauded gordita shop that jumped onto the national dining map, has moved, but you’ll still find it in Sanford.
After landing on Eater’s Best New Restaurants list last year, Fonda Lupita has expanded from its tiny Jonesboro Heights spot to a sprawling 6,000-square-foot space with room for 150.
The new Fonda Lupita, located at 1948 S. Horner Blvd., Suite B, opened June 27. By Friday, July 1, the line was out the door for three hours straight.
“The place is huge and there was nowhere for customers to sit,” owner Biridiana Frausto told The News & Observer. “I never imagined it would happen that fast.”
Fonda Lupita moves into a space that was most recently a Japanese restaurant, but is still mostly known as the former Pizza Inn. Frausto said it took three coats of primer to reset the walls, which are now covered in bright and vibrant murals.
“If you’ve ever been to Mexico or are Mexican, the print brings in a lot of traditional Mexican artwork,” Frausto said. “It’s so much different from what it used to be, there’s so much more light. I feel like it’s alive now.”
On the food side, the Fonda Lupita menu is largely the same, built on gorditas and stews, served as little griddled pockets of masa filled with pressed pork, or pastor or birria.
“We didn’t want to lose the essence of the food and what we’re trying to do out here,” Frausto said.
There are also burritos and quessabirria tacos and quesadillas. Tortilla chips are also new, with Frausto noting they’re the more traditional and thicker fried tortilla version found in Mexico.
“They’re the original Mexican chips,” Frausto said. “This is what people in Mexico eat.”
The biggest change from the original spot is Fonda Lupita now has a bar, serving margaritas with freshly squeezed fruit juices, plus six agua frescas and bottled beer. Draft beer will be added down the road, Frausto said, with a tap reserved for Sanford brewery Hugger Mugger.
Last year, Fonda Lupita was the only North Carolina restaurant included in online food publication Eater’s annual list of the country’s best new restaurants.
The tiny Sanford spot was born as a stew shop, and its gorditas have become a dining phenomenon, with diners traveling from the Triangle and Charlotte and beyond for a meal.
So far, the crowds have found the new spot. A case of corn for elote used to last a week, but now it’s gone in less than two days.
“I was kind of desperate to move,” Frausto said. “The space was becoming too small, with too many cooks in the kitchen. We’re very excited about the new space.”
As for the old space, it will be flipped into a Mexican torta shop, Frausto said, serving the pressed sandwiches filled with many of the Fonda Lupita stews, plus versions like chicken parm and milanesa.
The Fonda torta shop will open later this year.
Frausto and her husband, Salvador Alvarez, are also planning a second Triangle restaurant, following the opening earlier this year of La Buena Vida in North Raleigh.
Frausto said La Victoria will open in Cary’s Arborteum at Weston, off Harrison Avenue, differing from both her other restaurants.
“It’s going to be a whole other thing,” Frausto said. “Totally different than Fonda and Buena Vida, but with a touch of both places for sure.”
This story was originally published July 18, 2022 5:45 AM.
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