Monday, July 30, 2012

A Bayless Brunch: Frontera Grill

My buddy ProfSwank is going to Chicago soon, so I'm going to do a few posts on our weekend May trip with the Cruisers.

We got to Frontera Grill about five minutes before it opened, and there was a long line to get in already, even in the rain.  There are no reservations here.  Just get there and cross your fingers.  Chicagoans love multiple James-Beard-award-winning and Top Chef Masters champion Rick Bayless.
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Disappointed by the douchebaggery at Bayless' Red O in Los Angeles, I was wary.  Why was I waiting in the rain for this?

Luckily, Bayless' flagship restaurant redeemed him.  Our brunch was a hit, and the four of us had a lovely time.

Fresh-squeezed limeade with sparkling water and coconut horchata ($3.50 each).  Press pot "coffee with a cause" -- 100% organic beans from La Perla de Oaxaca ($4.75).
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The beverages at Frontera Grill are excellent, be they fresh and tart, sweet and creamy, or hot and caffeinated.

Guacamole de tocino -- Gunthorp bacon, wood-grilled Bayless Garden garlic chives, Serrano chile, tortilla chips ($9.50).
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Meaty and smoky!  Definitely not your ordinary guac!

Queso fundido de carnitas de pato -- Otter Creek organic cheddar, duck leg carnitas, grilled knob onions, pickled jalapeƱos and vegetables ($9.50).
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This appetizer was my favorite part of our meal.  Cheese!  Duck!  Mr. Cruiser's surprise and wonder!

Huevos fronterizos -- two eggs sunny-side-up in ajillo sauce (chipotle, roasted garlic) with homemade chorizo and homemade buttermilk biscuits, tangy baby greens ($13).
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Excellent selection by Mr. Cruiser.  Lots of strong flavors that worked well together.

Pozole rojo -- pork and hominy soup infused with rich red chile with one poached egg ($12.50).
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Ms. Cruiser couldn't pass up this hot stew.  Perfect for the rainy day.

Sapitos -- a trio of Xalapa-style gorditas (corn masa cakes), each with its own toppings: (1) scrambled eggs, (2) grilled chicken, and (3) chorizo all in chipotle black bean sauce with homemade crema and queso fresco ($13).
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Mr. Monkey ordered what I thought was the best entree.  It was like a buffet on a plate.

Hot cakes indigenas -- Three Sisters Garden Heirloom corn pancakes, whipped goat cheese, organic agave syrup, red chile-glazed Gunthorp hickory-smoked bacon, two eggs sunny-side-up ($13).
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I got the loser of the day.  It was tasty but not nearly as interesting as the description made it seem.  This platter is ideal for your friends who are boring eaters.

Is Frontera Grill worth a tourist visit?  I'd say yes, especially if you are from a locale without good Mexican food.  However, if you are from California, Texas, or some other place with great Mexican eats, you may not be as easily won over.


  1. Ohhhhh this looks so good. I miss Mexican food.

    1. So sad you don't have good Mexican food in Chile!

  2. The decor looks interesting too! I hope to get to Chicago again next year so I'll definitely be on the look out for more recommendations :)

  3. Great review! We have never been to FG, just Topolo & Xoco. Can't wait to see Swanky!

  4. Love this place! We are going next month. :)

  5. i still cannot bring myself to pay $$$ for mexican, but i might for bayless.


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