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.
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).
Guacamole de tocino -- Gunthorp bacon, wood-grilled Bayless Garden garlic chives, Serrano chile, tortilla chips ($9.50).
Queso fundido de carnitas de pato -- Otter Creek organic cheddar, duck leg carnitas, grilled knob onions, pickled jalapeños and vegetables ($9.50).
Huevos fronterizos -- two eggs sunny-side-up in ajillo sauce (chipotle, roasted garlic) with homemade chorizo and homemade buttermilk biscuits, tangy baby greens ($13).
Pozole rojo -- pork and hominy soup infused with rich red chile with one poached egg ($12.50).
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).
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).
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.