On the night of our anniversary, we had dinner at the highly anticipated Frontera Grill. We started off the night with a couple of margaritas. Dave ordered the Topolo Margarita (Herradura añejo tequila, Torres orange liqueur, housemade limonada) and I ordered the Blue Agave Margarita (Cazadores Blanco tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice). The Topolo Margarita was a classic margarita and very good, though not as good as our reigning favorite, Xochimilco’s. The Blue Agave margarita was more strongly lime flavored, which I enjoyed.
We ordered two appetizers, first were the just made tortilla chips with two salsas. The two salsas were a three-chile (cascabel, morita, guajillo) and a tomatillo with serrano and cilantro. I liked them both, as did Dave, but I preferred the red three-chile salsa. At the last minute I ordered the guacamole. Guacamole is one of my favorite foods, but Dave isn’t that crazy about it, but I thought what the heck! And surprise, surprise, Dave liked it! He said it was the best guacamole he ever had. I’m not sure what made it so special, but it was good.
For our entrees, I ordered the street food trio, which was composed of: one potosinas (a turnover or empanada) with cheese, avocado, hot sauce and crema, two epazote (kind of like a tostada) with black beans, mesquite-smoked turkey, chiltomate salsa, and radish, and two sopes (a small cup made from corn, not pictured) topped with shredded beef, roasted tomato, green chile. I thought everything was delicoius, but I liked the potosina and sopes better than the epzote. The smoke flavor of the turkey was really aggressive, while still good wasn’t my favorite.
Dave had been really looking forward to trying mole so he ordered the mole trio with mole poblano enchiladas, pork and runner beans simmered in coloradito mole (ancho, spices, toasted sesame, chocolate), and roasted vegetables in green peanut mole (not pictured). He thought they were good, but he wasn’t blown away like he had expected to be. I thought about ordering a mole, but I’m glad I stuck with the street food trio.
In my opinion, dessert was the best part of the meal at Frontera. I had the Tartaleta de Manzana which was a warm apple hand pie with rum raisin ice cream, Asian pear salsa, and was supposed to come with cajeta (goats milk caramel), but it was absent and I didn’t noticed until I was almost done. The hand pie was really good, but the real star of the plate was the rum raisin ice cream and Asian pear salsa. They were fabulous together. The ice cream was sweet and creamy with good rum flavor and the Asian pear salsa was bright, less sweet than the ice cream, but not sour. The rum raisin ice cream was made with piloncillo, an unrefined sugar that is commonly used in Mexican cooking.
Dave ordered the Delicia de Chocolate y Uva for dessert because the idea of chocolate and grapes intrigued him. It was a parfait of dark chocolate cake layered with Concord grape cream, Oaxacan chocolate chunks, Concord compote and whipped cream. He really liked it. I took a taste and thought it was interesting, but not really my cup of tea.
Overall, the meal was good, but we were a little disappointed that we weren’t blown away by it. I think we might have set our expectations a bit too high. If I were in Chicago again, I probably would skip Frontera and visit Rick Bayless’ street food restaurant, Xoco, next door (which we did and will be in an upcoming post). Though I would be tempted to get dessert at Frontera even with the crowds.