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Frontera Grill

PHOTOS: Christina Slaton

Frontera Grill is overlooked. Yes, we just called one of the most famous restaurants in Chicago, owned by one of the most well-known chefs in the country (Rick Bayless), which has been open for almost 30 years, overlooked. Let's come back to this though.

The food at Frontera is high-end Mexican yet simple at the same time. It's simple because they serve familiar dishes of Mexican cuisine like guacamole, tacos, enchiladas, and anything in a mole - not crazy modern interpretations of traditional dishes that might piss you off (that's Topolobamopo next door). But it's also high-end because everything is done exceptionally well. The moles, while familiar, are rich and complicated sauces, and something as simple as a queso fundidio will make you question all other queso fundido's you've had before.

So why is Frontera, a place that's always crowded, overlooked? Because we think it's overlooked by locals. We can't remember the last time anyone we know who lives here even talk about going, something we were guilty of until a recent trip for exactly that reason. It's always full, but full of a lot of people who look like they read about Rick Bayless on Trip Advisor. That doesn't mean Frontera is a bad experience though, because the design keeps it feeling fun and playful inside so you can have a great meal no matter who you are.

So even though you know Frontera is famous, have you actually been? We hope so, and if not, we hope you change that soon.

Food Rundown

Frontera Guacamole

Duh. And as delicious as they may be, don't fill up on chips.

Ceviche Trio

An albacaore tuna, a shrimp and scallop, and a yellowfin ceviche, each in a different sauce. Two things to note about this ceviche trio. One: it's delicious. Two: the fact Frontera gives you a large quantity of three different styles this good for $20 is proof that every other restaurant is ripping us off with $18 tuna tartare's that have three tiny bites. Don't fill up on the chips served with this either.

Enfrijoladas

Tortillas dipped in black bean sauce with chorizo, roasted tomatillo salsa, crema, and fresh cheese. The black bean sauce and chorizo really shine through, and this is a great small bite to share.

Fried Sweet Plantains

You're going to want a side of these.

Duck in Mole Coloradito

You should probably eat something in one of Frontera's homemade mole sauces, and this duck wouldn't be a bad choice.

Tacos Al Carbon Trio

Why order one style taco when you get try three. You'll think one meat has to be better than the other, but then you'll realize they're all incredible - skirt steak, chicken breast, and duck. It comes with a generous portion of guacamole, roasted poblano peppers, grilled onions, and grilled shoshito peppers so you can load it all up in fresh made tortillas. This is a large dish best for sharing.

Dúo De Flanes

Traditional Mexican vanilla flan and line and ginger flan with blueberry compote and candied ginger. A light classic Mexican dessert with a bit of a twist.

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