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Frontera Grill, Chicago

What does it mean when one guy has 5 eateries in Chicago, with 3 all on one city block? That he's probably pretty good and in demand. This is certainly true of Rick Bayless and his Chicago establishments.

On a Saturday night at 5 pm there was already an hour and 45 minute wait for a table at Frontera Grill, the casual Mexican bar and restaurant that is right next door to the more upscale and spendy, Topolobampo and on the other side XOCO, a small torta shop. Considering we were on vacation and there was room to wait at the bar we put our name in.

Tamarind Margarita
We absconded a small high top table in the bar and ordered drinks and an appetizer. I started with the tamarind margarita which was very yummy, but too sweet to have more than one of, so after that I switched to the same thing my companion was drinking which was the Topolo margarita, the most popular drink at both Frontera and Topolobampo. For our appetizer we had the amazing and really delicious Oyster and Ceviche platter. I am not a huge oyster fan, so the plan was my companion would eat the oysters and we would share the ceviche. He talked me into trying an oyster and if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen my post were I proclaimed that it wasn't totally gross! Ha, Ha. Still a little slimy and watery for me and my texture issues but I would try them again. The ceviches were excellent.

Topolobampo Margarita
There were three ceviches served to us, Frontera Ceviche which was Hawaiian albacore, lime, tomatoes, olives, cilantro & green chile, Tropical Tuna cocktail which was Sashimi-grade Hawaiian bigeye tuna, tomatillo guacamole, honey Manila mango salsa and Herb Green Ceviche with fresh Pacific yellowtail, spicy roasted tomatillo, lime, cilantro, and avocado. They were fresh and yummy, a perfect way to start our meal.

The wait was actually shorter than the told us and we were seated after just about an hour of waiting. We continued with the signature margaritas and looked over the rest of the menu, boy it was hard to make a choice.

Black Mole with Lamb
I finally decided on the Mole Trio which had a mole poblano enchiladas, lamb in a black mole and vegetables in a green mole. The enchilada was most like traditional moles I have had before, smoky and a little sweet. The black mole with the lamb was my favorite of the three, a little spicy, but also sweet, it was dark and yummy and went perfect with the lamb. The green mole reminded me of green curry, it was creamy, a little spicy and very similar to green curries I have had.  The presentation was super cute, the three moles all came in their own little cast iron bowls on a long narrow plate. Very cute, very yummy and so Skip was very happy.

My dining companion was equally happy with his duck dish.He had ordered the Duck with Pasilla-Huitlacoche Sauce: Red chile-rubbed duck breast, pasilla-huitlacoche sauce (garlic, dark beer). Field corn torta, sweet corn esquites, anejo cheese, shoots salad. The sauce was really tasty and the duck tender, really a classy dish that you wouldn't find at any other "Mexican" restaurants.



  1. This sounds sooo yummy!! Everything from the drinks to the main entrees! I love mole dark/sweet mole, but have never had the green one before. Sounds fabulous!


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