La Fonda, the Mexican restaurant, 1639 R St., a favorite locale for Dupont Circle habitues for years, has started a remodeling program. But its fans will be happy to hear that the colors will remind you of salsa picante.

Mary Drysdale, the interior designer, covered a wall and a floor with a red, yellow and blue tile in a geometric mural. Then she doubled the effect with a mirror on the other wall. She painted the fancy scroll work around the bar a chrome yellow to make one think of pina coladas.

Manny Pena, the owner with his sister Adelina Callahan (who with her husband owns El Bodegan next door), contributes to the decor with guayabera shirts for all the waiters -- he buys them by the gross from Mexico. The Pena family owned the Hispanic grocery across the street for years before swapping for the prepared food end.

Pena is planning to remodel other rooms of the restaurant, including the big dining hall on the second floor.

Tile is a good honest material, appropriate to Mexico (though unaccountably, Drysdale has chosen American tile to use here). And the colors certainly make you think of chilies. Still, the new front room is a place to eat tacos quickly, and the older, unremodeled back room, a place to savor the mole.