Sonido is one of the friendliest, happiest cafes I’ve encountered in Fitzroy.

Nestled in the less fashionable end of Gertrude Street (though increasingly hip thanks to various McConnell establishments and some cool independent designer stores), this little jumble of a cafe serves Colombian style arepas and other tasty South American style treats with a smile and a friendly chat.

Sonido is bustling most days and visitors love lounging in the low sofas inside or the retro picnic furniture outside. Or you can share the communal table and gaze at the colourful kitsch Latino decor. It was a warm, lived in feel and the staff welcome you like old friends.

Sonido specialise in arepas – flat rounds of corn maize, fried and topped with various sweet and savoury toppings. They are the most typical food of northern South America and are filling and nutritious.

I’ve tried several of Sonido‘s arepas and my favourite is “Old Clothes” Beef which is apparently a secret Cuban recipe ($12). It looks like an unphotogenic mess of shredded beef on the plate but doused with a few drops from the distracting choices of hot sauce (there’s hot, very hot and very very hot – I like the green bottle) and the piquant salsa it is a zingy delight for your palate. Smother each mouthful in guacamole to temper the heat.

I’ve also had the black beans and feta arepa ($12) which is a good vegetarian alternative and the chorizo arepa ($12) which comes as a very hard-to-cut grilled chorizo speared with a lime and is not particularly recommended due to the difficulty in eating it!

As for sweets try the raspberry brownie ($4.50). Not particularly South American but soft, chocolate-cakey goodness which often sells out during the day.

From the drinks menu I recommend some of the natural South American juices with a couple of flavours that weren’t familiar to me. My waitress recommended the lemony-lime Lulo which came frothed with water (or milk, your choice). Apparently the nectars are bought from Casa Iberica in Johnston St Fitzroy so you could replicate the drinks at home. For colder climes the creamy Colombian hot chocolate is soothing, served in a traditional ‘olleta’ or miniature metal saucepan with your own personal wooden stirring ladle ($4.50 for one).

Sonido is one of my regular haunts and given the queues sometimes I’m not alone. I particularly like to visit when I’m near St Vincent’s Hospital – so much better than the hospital cafes and vending machines.

Sonido, 69 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9495 6636
Mon – Thu 8am-4pm
Fri 8am – 10pm
Sat 9am – 4pm
Sun 10am – 4pm