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Frontera Grill -James Beard Outstanding Rest. of the Year

Frontera Grill -James Beard Outstanding Rest. of the Year
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  • Post #91 - October 30th, 2009, 4:31 pm
    Post #91 - October 30th, 2009, 4:31 pm Post #91 - October 30th, 2009, 4:31 pm
    Chitown B wrote:Like you said, you weren't there. We'd never been there before, as I'm sure a lot of the business lately. So, to see almost no one waiting in the main area and knowing that you can't really make reservations, and to be quoted that time seemed ridiculous. Unless they do cell phone waiting. There was no one up front. And even so, we should've been offered the bar to wait, or some explanation of the wait. As it was, there was just nothing that immediately said to us "this wait is acceptable." At least at Great Lake you can see they have one oven and one table, and a line out the door. I saw almost no one waiting, and saw a huge room of 65 seats, but yet 2 hour wait. Didn't make sense to me.

    I'll be back, but you'd think 5:45 PM on a Thursday would be one of the easiest times to get a table for dinner.


    You seem so scandalized about the wait. Did it occur to you to ask about it? Were there people eating in any of those 65 seats or were you going to pull up a chair and join them?
  • Post #92 - October 30th, 2009, 4:34 pm
    Post #92 - October 30th, 2009, 4:34 pm Post #92 - October 30th, 2009, 4:34 pm
    Chitown B wrote:I'll be back, but you'd think 5:45 PM on a Thursday would be one of the easiest times to get a table for dinner.

    Sh*t happens sometimes, and it obviously happened to you that visit - and it's unpleasant being on the receiving end. I can believe it's possible the restaurant's staff dropped the ball in not offering other suggestions (i.e., waiting in the bar - or eating there, but I don't like eating some dinners in a bar, either), as well as I can believe (because I've seen it) 50 or more people were waiting in line when the restaurant opened it's doors for dinner just ahead of your arrival. Being told the wait would be 2 hours, well, I, too, find it strange . . . but without knowing what else was going on in the restaurant that night it's tough to pass judgment. You were there, it was your experience - so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt (not that what I think about is particularly important :cry: ). I saw in your report on the stop you made at Xoco that you enjoyed the hot chocolates and churros you had - so the visit to the neighborhood (other than the performance) wasn't a total loss.
  • Post #93 - November 1st, 2009, 11:03 pm
    Post #93 - November 1st, 2009, 11:03 pm Post #93 - November 1st, 2009, 11:03 pm
    Like anyone who was even a casual fan of Top Chef: Masters, I found myself searching for reasons to not like Rick Bayless. And just like everyone else, I failed in this search. Dude has to be the nicest guy in the history in of reality television. Yet despite wanting to adopt Rick Bayless as my uncle or something I was never a huge fan of my meals at Frontera Grill. They were always good, sometimes very good, but I was never ecstatic about them. I'd had more inspiring Mexican cuisine in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Durham, and, yes, Mexico.

    I made it to Xoco, quite liked it, but didn't really feel the need to rush back to Frontera, especially given the insanity of getting a table. In a sense, I'm glad my friends aren't so jaded. A birthday needed to be celebrated and due to one of the party living close by we achieved the near impossible: getting a six-top on a Saturday at a normal hour. I think he went by at 5:30 to put down a name and leave a phone number to call, then went back to his place to hang out. Naturally, getting this table still required a good deal of flexibility (in addition to the aforementioned geographical advantage we exploited) in that we were told expect to sit at about 8 pm but were then told to rush to the restaurant at 7 pm instead. Despite throwing off some plans for the night, I can't deny that I really enjoyed my meal.

    Now of course this enjoyment of the meal is naturally complicated by confounding factors. First, it was Halloween (read: I was quite inebriated before even entering the restaurant and consumed a few margaritas once there). Second, I didn't have to wait but a minute for my table (see: above paragraph). With that said, there are aspects to this restaurant that I actively don't like and have colored my impressions in the past. The host staff has never been friendly. Competency at dealing with hordes of people is not the same thing as hospitality. Also, the restaurant feels harried and frantic, not necessarily in a good way. Staffers rush across the floor, silverware is more dropped at the table than placed, the decor isn't particularly striking. I also hate how they use flimsy plastic menu holders, like one finds at a chain restaurant. Print your menus daily if they get dirty and charge me $.50 more. I'm a huge supporter of restaurants and the hospitality industry at large but some things just bother me ever so slightly. For a restaurant with such a strong reputation, this place does a lot of those things.

    We ordered a few starters to share, then moved into mains, then a couple desserts.

    Guacamole
    Image
    This was actually very good. Very rounded, fully developed flavor profile. I usually dislike tomatoes in guacamole, but the dried tomatoes here added just a bit of umami to the dish.

    Trio of ceviche
    Image
    These, too, were quite tasty. The apricot-tuna ceviche bordered on cloying, but the dish was interesting. The lime-marlin was pretty classic, but along with the shellfish one, seemed a bit too acidic. Not necessarily because the marinating mixture was too acidic, I just think there was too much of it to the point where the seafood was awash in liquid.

    The queso fundido classico was totally delicious. I also liked how soft and pillowy the tortillas are here.

    Pate en mole cacahuate
    Image
    A few in my party got this duck with mole cacahuate. I tried this, it was a nice plate of food.

    Enchiladas de mole poblano
    Image
    I've had this dish a couple times now. The mole here is classic; I can't find too much fault with it. Perhaps the Bayless moles are, across the board, ever so slightly muted in flavor. This might be intentional, I'm not sure. My US mole standard bearer is the Red Iguana and I generally prefer its moles because they're more intense.

    Puerco en salsa de chile pasilla e higo
    Image
    This was my selection, and I really enjoyed how the sweet-savory aspect of the dish was conveyed in two different components. First there was the chile-fig sauce. There was also a fig salsa. For some this dish might skew too sweet, but I really enjoyed it. From a temperature standpoint the pork was overcooked--particularly upsetting since I made a point of asking for it medium-rare--but either the quality of the meat or the brine that it was placed in saved the dish. Very flavorful even when slightly dry.

    There seems to be a tendency here toward protein+sauce+starch+garnish that feels a bit sameish, but I guess with prices in the low $20s you can't complain too much. I wouldn't call this inspired food nor is it enlightening. It is, however, tasty and often times delicious.

    For dessert we had the duo of flan, a bread pudding ice cream sandwich, and some comped concord grape ice cream for the gentleman celebrating his birthday. The flans were technically quite good, very intense in flavor. I would guess they were cooked in a water bath given the texture. Presentation here was a bit rough, just two flans plopped on the plate. I wasn't feeling the bread pudding with ice cream as much. The Negro Modelo ice cream was too muted for my tastes and some weird, crunchy sprinkle things really killed the dish for me.

    Taken as a whole I really enjoyed all the food I consumed. My criticisms aren't anything new and seem to jive with what others have also said about the restaurant. For whatever reason, perhaps it was the night's festivities, I just thought most of what was on the plate was fundamentally tasty.
  • Post #94 - November 2nd, 2009, 1:55 pm
    Post #94 - November 2nd, 2009, 1:55 pm Post #94 - November 2nd, 2009, 1:55 pm
    Since I'm still waiting for an opportunity to use my birthday present gift certificate for a night at Frontera Grill (for what will be my first time), I really appreciate seeing posts like these that give me an idea of what to expect.

    Just one quibble, though:
    BryanZ wrote:Like anyone who was even a casual fan of Top Chef: Masters, I found myself searching for reasons to not like Rick Bayless.
    You've got to speak for yourself here. IMO it's a personality trait more than anything else that predisposes some to look for things not to like in experiences such as getting to know a new person (or a new restaurant), and predisposes others not to. Off topic, I know, but hanging around this forum one can see manifestions of both types.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #95 - November 4th, 2009, 9:00 am
    Post #95 - November 4th, 2009, 9:00 am Post #95 - November 4th, 2009, 9:00 am
    As I posted in the "BTIE(L)" thread, we ate at Frontera last night after a preview of "The Men Who Stare At Goats."
    All claims that this place has rested on its laurels should be ignored. Yes, our $77 (tip incl.) meal for two could have been four or five meals at a tacqueria, but there's a level of service and refinement to the food you don't see in those kinds of places.

    We got there around 8:30, and there was an hour and a half wait, unless we were willing to sit at the Chef's Counter -- no problem there, we were hungry, not looking for a romantic candlelit experience, and we got to watch a lot of great food go by. Note: the counter is really the coffee bar, if you want to watch food prep, you can't see much from there besides the expediter wiping dish edges.

    We did see Himself chatting with one of the cooks or sous at the back after 9PM (probably after Xoco shut down for the night), both looked happy and enthusiastic to be there.

    We started with the guacamole (and a Marguerita). I normally prefer my guac without obvious veggies in it, but this was perfectly balance: onions were practically minced, and sun-dried tomatoes adding color and acid without changing texture significantly. Salt and acid were perfect. And the chips are the platonic ideal: very crisp, highly toasty, greaseless and just the right saltiness. (The two little bowls of salsa, though, were a bit of a disappointment. The green one was very tasty but no heat -- more of a cilantro chimmichurri, and the red was completely zingless. They both seemed more like the kind of thing Bobby Flay would use to decorate a plate. But that's the only low note of the night.).

    Next was the Crema de calabaza y camarones. Squash and shrimp soup. Rich broth, chunks of squash and small shrimp, it was the hit of the night. This is something you won't see in street food. A delicate touch to the flavors that all worked together. At the same time they delivered the duck flautas. Very tasty sauce, nice crisp flautas under a fluffy pile of arugula (could have used a little more duckiness perhaps).

    We then split the birria de chivo. Damn. Bottle that broth! Served atop a sope with finely shredded cabbage and (I think) chayote. Great flavor. Yes, I can get braised goat for a third the price on Milwaukee, but not that looked like this, and not that polished.

    So Frontera: worth its rep. A little pricey for a weeknight meal (but not out of line for the neighborhood).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #96 - April 1st, 2010, 7:16 am
    Post #96 - April 1st, 2010, 7:16 am Post #96 - April 1st, 2010, 7:16 am
    This will not impress nor excite jaded veterans of the forum....but I'm dining tonite for the first time at Frontera Grill...and I'm excited....actually, almost thrilled.....any suggestions from the menu?
  • Post #97 - April 1st, 2010, 8:04 am
    Post #97 - April 1st, 2010, 8:04 am Post #97 - April 1st, 2010, 8:04 am
    A good deal of the menu will change seasonally, but if the delicata squash soup with shrimp is still there, don't miss it.
    Not your usual gloppy squash bisque, it's brothy, smoky (from crumbled dried chiles), just what you want in a soup.... except maybe not on an 80-degree day in April.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #98 - April 1st, 2010, 8:31 am
    Post #98 - April 1st, 2010, 8:31 am Post #98 - April 1st, 2010, 8:31 am
    From the current menu, I'd choose the Queso Fundido Clasico and Pato en Mole de Xico. My wife is quite fond of the Sopa Azteca (always on the menu at Topolo, and in the past they've been happy to serve it in the Frontera dining room.) and Enchiladas de Mole Poblano.
  • Post #99 - April 1st, 2010, 9:02 am
    Post #99 - April 1st, 2010, 9:02 am Post #99 - April 1st, 2010, 9:02 am
    Sorry that this may seem vague, but everytime I go, I always order anything that has an offbeat sauce with it. Whether it be an app or an entree, I think Frontera excels at sauces. Especially the ones that sound a little offbeat. I can't even give examples because I don't recall any names - tequila will do that to me. But seriously, I always order the things that have the seemingly oddest sounding sauces - especially anything that they describe as "smokey."

    And if there's a ceviche, get it. I remember really liking the Marlin, but it's really just about the fish being fresh.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #100 - April 1st, 2010, 9:05 am
    Post #100 - April 1st, 2010, 9:05 am Post #100 - April 1st, 2010, 9:05 am
    Of the margaritas offer, the Topolo is our favorite!! The enchiladas and guacamole are excellent too. There's also a great pork dinner that has a fabulous mole sauce on it.

    John
  • Post #101 - April 1st, 2010, 9:40 am
    Post #101 - April 1st, 2010, 9:40 am Post #101 - April 1st, 2010, 9:40 am
    I always get the ceviche trio - all of the ceviches are so good, I can't decide on just one. Fortunately, Chef Bayless helped me out by creating a combo that is a good taste of each one. Sometimes I even share. :D

    Each time we go, I agonize and drool all day over the online menu (part of the fun!). When we arrive and hear the specials, I'm usually persuaded to order one of them. I have had some amazing goat, lamb and pork belly dishes that were the specials of the day. For those who aren't adventuresome, I typically advise the rib-eye or flank steaks, both of which are excellent. There is usually an tasty lamb dish (lamb casserole this month) on the regular menu for someone who wants to try something a little unusual and "Bayless-y".

    If you, or a member of your party, are a pepper-head, make sure you ask your server for some of the haberno sauce. The burn is oh, so good!
    vickyp
  • Post #102 - April 1st, 2010, 3:44 pm
    Post #102 - April 1st, 2010, 3:44 pm Post #102 - April 1st, 2010, 3:44 pm
    Seebee, another joke? :P
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #103 - April 1st, 2010, 8:26 pm
    Post #103 - April 1st, 2010, 8:26 pm Post #103 - April 1st, 2010, 8:26 pm
    Cogito wrote:Seebee, another joke? :P


    I was thinking the same thing.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #104 - April 1st, 2010, 9:10 pm
    Post #104 - April 1st, 2010, 9:10 pm Post #104 - April 1st, 2010, 9:10 pm
    Totally serious. No joke at all. I'm a big fan of Frontera.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #105 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:03 am
    Post #105 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:03 am Post #105 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:03 am
    Thanks for the suggestions....my party had an excellent experience, and your collective advice was a big help. Once again....thanks.
  • Post #106 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:06 am
    Post #106 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:06 am Post #106 - April 2nd, 2010, 10:06 am
    pnking wrote:Thanks for the suggestions....my party had an excellent experience, and your collective advice was a big help. Once again....thanks.


    What did you eat?
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #107 - April 2nd, 2010, 12:20 pm
    Post #107 - April 2nd, 2010, 12:20 pm Post #107 - April 2nd, 2010, 12:20 pm
    I had the Ceviche Fronterizo, which was simply terrific.....followed by the Queso FundidodePollo Ababado, which others in the party insisted upon helping me "finish"......and a main course of Pato en Mole de Xico....not my favorite of the evening, but still very good.....no dessert....we were heading off to Billy Elliot (also terrific, by the way)...
  • Post #108 - September 16th, 2010, 5:10 pm
    Post #108 - September 16th, 2010, 5:10 pm Post #108 - September 16th, 2010, 5:10 pm
    I'm going tomorrow, and it doesn't appear that they've posted the current menu online yet. Any recs to share that I might not already know of from the now outdated version?
  • Post #109 - September 16th, 2010, 5:53 pm
    Post #109 - September 16th, 2010, 5:53 pm Post #109 - September 16th, 2010, 5:53 pm
    I liked the duck carnitas I had last week. They didn't taste much like duck, but they were tasty.

    I can tell you what not to get - the poc chuc.

    [poc chuc rant]
    I'm a sucker for this dish. Emphasis on sucker. When I see this on the menu I just keep ordering it (idiotically, it seems). Pork marinated in a sour orange-achiote concoction with all the flavor of the Yucatan and then grilled. What's not to love?

    Well, it seems the grilling is the problem. What I was served at Frontera were thin, overcooked slices of pork with no discernible flavor. Mix it with everyone else on the plate, and it was edible, but the meat was very disappointing. If they would have mentioned on the menu that it was pork slices, I wouldn't have ordered it. If they displayed the picture you can see online, I definitely wouldn't have ordered it. They seemed more interested in touting the fact it was Maple Creek pork. I don't care what bucolic farm it came from, just give me properly cooked pork.

    Sadly, it seems everywhere I've tried to order this dish, they've overcooked or miscooked the meat. Mixteco and Xni-Pec come to mind. I don't know if slices of meat are the authentic prep (recipes I looked for varied), but can't someone just marinate and grill a pork chop? Cut a blade steak thick enough to not cook through and through? Will someone just make this dish well already?

    It's too bad, because the black bean "soup" (emphasis: Frontera's) that they served it with was delicious. And dipping the pork in it was the only way to make it halfway decent.

    [/poc chuc rant]

    Anyway, I haven't much love for Frontera. This was for an out-of-town friend who loves their carne asada. And it was very good. So based on last week's visit, I'd get that :)
  • Post #110 - January 28th, 2011, 1:33 pm
    Post #110 - January 28th, 2011, 1:33 pm Post #110 - January 28th, 2011, 1:33 pm
    My one and only visit to Frontera Grill

    Needed to get out of the house, talk a walk, enjoy some fresh air, and I decided to do it downtown. Snow was swirling so I chose to start on North Michigan, enjoying the late afternoon, the lights, the life on the street.

    Ended up parking around the corner from Frontera, so as I returned to the car, I decided it was time to remedy this embarrassing gap in my restaurant resume. I had been to Topolobampo many times, but never to Frontera. By 515, the doors opened, and I pulled up to the bar. At least 10 years ago, I found myself at the (then-named) Mexican Fine Arts Museum at the end of an exhibition. Pure happenstance, and it also happened that they were having a silent auction of many of the works. beautiful pieces, day of the dead and other, ceramics, papier mache, vibrant, spectacular, and, as it turned out, very reasonably priced. So I began to bid on some. Caught my attention that someone else I recognized was there, and so I noticed Rick and Deanna, also bidding, though they were bidding on these very large dragons, and other big pieces that did not interest me at all. I think they went for around $400, btw, a steal for Bayless. My detailed ceramic skulls, skeleton candelabras, and papier mache taco stand of the damned skull went for 1/4 that.

    It made me smile to see many of those pieces still on display in the restaurant.

    My crab/shrimp cocktail also made me smile. Impeccable seafood, nice, smoky, heat, a very auspicious start. Not as thrilled with my Mezcal Margarita. Interesting and tasty, but the Mezcal was completely obscured by the limonada and other flavors - not easy to do, nor desirable, I wanted the smoky agave flavor up front. My next Margarita, I believe it was the Blue Agave, was sold as being pure citrus and it was fine, still completely obscuring the taste of the tequila, but it was more understandable. I was beginning to see a worrisome trend - this was a place that featured tequila and mezcal, but did not expect you to want to actually taste them.

    Then came the Chile Relleno special. Great ingredients, nice preparation, but like the Mezcal I was left to wonder how a dish where chile is the primary ingredient could display so little chile taste. Nice flavors, good texture, but no heat, and in a tomato sauce that was mostly just tomato broth to my taste buds. So I asked for some salsa picante and they bought out the green and red - took a taste, still nothing. Slathered up my chiles with that and it gave a little more flavor, but still no heat at all. The bartender, observing the empty salsa bowls, asked it I would like some habanero, and I said, yes please. He felt obliged to clarify that habanero is really hot and was I sure. Yes, I said.

    Finally, I got some heat, though as habanero salsas go, this was just mid-level.

    $74 for my dinner, with tip and the two margaritas.

    Perfect technique, excellent ingredients, and I probably would go back for the seafood again (probably not, but if I was there it would be ceviche, oysters, seafood cocktail for me), but otherwise my meal was Mexican for tourists, at tourist prices. As I have said before, I like Rick, think he has done great things, and do not begrudge him his success, but I cannot find a reason to spend 3 times as much as I would elsewhere for food that is clearly aimed at people who do not love the chile, and need to be warned twice before they get the habanero.

    No question, I am not his target market, so I do not expect this is a surprise.

    Did stop at Hoosier Mama on the way, as I almost always do when in the city these days, and back home my pie made it all better. That place deserves its own pedestal.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #111 - January 28th, 2011, 2:45 pm
    Post #111 - January 28th, 2011, 2:45 pm Post #111 - January 28th, 2011, 2:45 pm
    I don't usually think it worthwhile to debate whether a dish is authentic, because with a country as large as Mexico a resolution is almost always impossible. That said, to me a "real" chile relleno is exactly as you described: mild pepper that lets the usually-sweet ingredients filling it be the star, and served in a tomato broth that's not close to anything most Americans would call sauce. When a restaurant serves a mas picante chile relleno in a sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, that's when I'm pretty sure they're cooking for "tourists".

    Hoosier Mama is great.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #112 - March 15th, 2011, 1:51 pm
    Post #112 - March 15th, 2011, 1:51 pm Post #112 - March 15th, 2011, 1:51 pm
    If anyone has any recent experiences with private dining at Frontera, I'd love to hear about them. I have a rehearsal dinner to host this summer for around 30 people, and the Frontera/Topolo private room is pulling ahead as the frontrunner. I'm more of a Taqueria Oaxaquena guy myself, but I found the food at Frontera to be pretty good the one time I ate there, and it seems to me that dining in a private space would negate a lot of the hassle-related issues that bother people. Most attendees will be Chicagoans well-versed in Mexican food, but it could be a nice, vaguely "touristy" (in a good way) thing to do for those guests from out of town.
  • Post #113 - December 8th, 2012, 2:43 pm
    Post #113 - December 8th, 2012, 2:43 pm Post #113 - December 8th, 2012, 2:43 pm
    Anyone been in to Frontera recently? I have family coming in town next weekend and they want to go on Saturday. I have heard of lines wrapped around the block at 5:00. I'm assuming a couple hour wait. If we put our name in around 5:30-6:00, can we expect just a couple hours?
  • Post #114 - December 8th, 2012, 4:30 pm
    Post #114 - December 8th, 2012, 4:30 pm Post #114 - December 8th, 2012, 4:30 pm
    jfibro wrote:Anyone been in to Frontera recently? I have family coming in town next weekend and they want to go on Saturday. I have heard of lines wrapped around the block at 5:00. I'm assuming a couple hour wait. If we put our name in around 5:30-6:00, can we expect just a couple hours?

    Maybe, maybe less. You won't know till then. I've heard that you can pretty much get immediate seating if you get in line 20-30 minutes before they open the doors at 5:00, but maybe that's not a certainty on a Saturday night...? Also, the holiday season can have an effect, in either direction.

    Here's another possibility that might work for you. Topolobampo normally fills its reservations book 2-3 months in advance, but I just went on Opentable and I see they have a 5:45 opening for 4 people next Saturday. I don't know how many people you have or if they can accommodate you, but it's worth checking out. (I assume you know that Topolobampo is the upscale restaurant that occupies one dining room at Frontera Grill.)

    Other excellent restaurants serving contemporary Mexican cuisine not too far from downtown include Mexique (Opentable shows availability for an early reservation) and Salpicon (availability is pretty much wide open all evening).
  • Post #115 - December 8th, 2012, 8:58 pm
    Post #115 - December 8th, 2012, 8:58 pm Post #115 - December 8th, 2012, 8:58 pm
    As NSXTASY wrote, your best strategy, if you can't get a Rez, is to line up at 4:30 or before. Assuming you're near the front of the line you will be seated quickly. I have been told that for Frontera they only take reservations for about half of Frontera, but all of Topo. Also, there are booths in the bar area which is a pleasant place to sit and you can order off the Frontera menu. I have lined up several times when we made a last minute decision to go to Frontera and it's worked out well.
  • Post #116 - December 8th, 2012, 9:31 pm
    Post #116 - December 8th, 2012, 9:31 pm Post #116 - December 8th, 2012, 9:31 pm
    Jesper wrote:there are booths in the bar area which is a pleasant place to sit and you can order off the Frontera menu.

    If you're seated at the bar, you can order off either menu, Frontera's or Topolobampo's.
  • Post #117 - December 10th, 2012, 8:57 am
    Post #117 - December 10th, 2012, 8:57 am Post #117 - December 10th, 2012, 8:57 am
    If you really want to eat at Frontera, another option is to put your name on the list and then go somewhere else for drinks for a while. Frontera will call you when your name is near the top of the list. But, yes, expect a 2-3 hour wait on a Saturday night, unless you get there very early.

    A second the recommendation of Salpicon. It's a short drive from Frontera and serves excellent, upscale Mexican cuisine.
  • Post #118 - December 10th, 2012, 11:13 am
    Post #118 - December 10th, 2012, 11:13 am Post #118 - December 10th, 2012, 11:13 am
    Darren72 wrote:If you really want to eat at Frontera, another option is to put your name on the list and then go somewhere else for drinks for a while. Frontera will call you when your name is near the top of the list. But, yes, expect a 2-3 hour wait on a Saturday night, unless you get there very early.


    that's the plan. Maybe swing by around 5:30 to put our name in in hopes of being sat by 8:30. Go to Christkindlmarket in between.
  • Post #119 - May 13th, 2022, 7:22 pm
    Post #119 - May 13th, 2022, 7:22 pm Post #119 - May 13th, 2022, 7:22 pm
    On just a couple weeks notice, we were looking for a nicer restaurant on a Friday, and Frontera was one of the few places we could get into after 5 and before 10, walking distance from the Hyatt (we're staying downtown for a meeting).

    We had a lovely time. Yes we spent about 5x what we spent at Mi Restaurante around the corner from our house, but we had drinks, two appetizers, dessert and coffee/tea. So really it's about 2.5-3x. Some of that's service, some high quality ingredients, a big part River North rents and marketing.

    We started with a Malbec and a mezcal-based cocktail. The enchilada and sopecita appetizers were fantastic (Frontera probably has first call on the best avocados in the city), beautifully presented and full of bright and darker flavors.

    I had the tinga, SueF had the duck carnitas. The tinga had both braised pork and roast loin, great sauce, crispy potato strings, avocado slices, enough to fill 4 tortillas. The duck was two leg quarters, great crispy skin, beans, peppers and onions, matched avocado and absolutely perfect. Don't skip that dish.

    Cajeta crepes with plantain and ice cream made a nice finish, the tartness off the plantain balancing the sweet caramel.

    A perfect evening to eat outdoors is rare in May, and this was a great meal for it.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang

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