Along with the obligatory deep dish, we also hit up another Chicago classic on our road trip, Frontera Grill. This place (or any other Rick Bayless spot for that matter) is an absolute must on any trip to Chi-town. For a white guy, this dude can cook Mexican with the best of ’em. Frontera Grill is like my ideal Mexican spot — upscale Mexican cuisine meets Mexican street food with amazing ingredients, decent prices, passionate staff, and a fun, casual atmosphere.
The cocktail list is full of colorful drinks made with in-season ingredients. Our favorites were the Blood Orange Margarita and the Tamarind Margarita made with fresh tamarind, Wahaka Joven Espadin mezcal, Cointreau, fresh lime, and a hint of chipotle.
Because there was no way in hell we were ordering just one of the ceviches listed on the menu, we went with a sampling of three. The Frontera Ceviche (Hawaiian albacore, lime, tomatoes, olives, cilantro & green chile on tostaditas), Tropical Tuna Cocktail (Sashimi-grade Hawaiian bigeye tuna, tomatillo guacamole, honey Manila mango salsa) and Yucatecan Ceviche (Steamed Mexican blue shrimp & calamari, lime, orange, habanero, avocado, jicama, cucumber & cilantro). I was hesitant about the albacore tuna one, I guess it just makes me think of canned tuna, but that turned out to be the landslide favorite, mind = blown.
Sopes Rancheros, from the street food section of the menu, are crispy corn masa boats filled with savory shredded beef, roasted tomato, avocado, and homemade fresh cheese. I saw pics of these guys on their website and given my vice of shredded beef, it was the first thing I ordered. The corn pockets soaked up the sauce on the bottom and the juice from the beef but still kept its shape. And fresh cheese? Yes.
When someone in my party ordered the Smoked Chicken Taquitos (roasted tomatillo salsa, homemade crema, anejo cheese, guacamole) I was admittedly unexcited about it, mostly because the duck flautas were listed right above it. Alas, most people love chicken and I can’t have everything I want, so that was that. I turned out to be pleasantly surprised by this though! The chicken was super juicy and flavorful with a little spice.
Now for the grand finale, the Shredded Beef Enchiladas with chile-spiked shredded beef, roasted tomato sauce, Samuel’s cheese, crispy onions, and cilantro. Hands down the best enchiladas I’ve ever had. A lot of things can go wrong with enchiladas. Oftentimes the tortilla becomes soggy from the cheese and sauce or the meat inside gets dry when they’re baked, but each element was just as amazing as the finished product. The tortilla was the most impressive though!
Rick Bayless, marry me. Kthx.
449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60610