Tag Archives: Frontera Grill

Chef Richard James Walks You Through Frontera’s Latest Menu

Getting a glimpse into the mind of a chef is always a treat.

Earlier this week we caught up with Richard James, Chef de Cuisine at Frontera Grill, immediately after a staff tasting of his newest additions to Frontera’s May menu, which he said celebrates the arrival of springtime, highlights new seasonal dishes and resurrects an old Frontera favorite.

Mango-Morita Guacamole
Mango-Morita Guacamole / Michoacan avocados, honey Manila mango, mortia chile, grilled red onion, lime, cincho cheese

“We’re highly motivated by seasonality here and Manila mangoes are in season, so I made them part of this guacamole. In Mexico, they put chile, lime and cheese on fruit, so I just took all of those ingredients and put them in the guacamole.”

Duck Tamal
Duck Tamal / Banana leaf-steamed tamal of fresh-ground corn masa, slow-cooked duck carnitas filling, caramelized orange-ancho sauce, grilled orange salsa

“Duck goes really, really well with orange. The French have proven that [with Duck à l’Orange] so this is what would’ve happened to that dish in Mexico.”

Chorizo-Black Bean Empanadas
Chorizo-Black Bean Empanadas / Corn masa turnovers filled with chorizo, black beans and chicharrón. Salsa huevona, housemade crema & añejo cheese

“Originally I was going to do this dish called esponjadas, but I couldn’t get them to puff right. So instead of putting everything on top of inflated tortillas, I put everything inside.”

Chicken in Asparagus Crema
Chicken in Asparagus Crema / Smoked Gunthorp chicken breast, roasted poblano-asparagus crema, roasty local asparagus and Yukon gold potatoes. Crispy chicken chicharrón.

“Asparagus is the second crop that comes out of the ground. It really gets me motivated when the seasons start turning.”

Queso Fundido Al Pastor
Queso Fundido Al Pastor / Otter Creek organic cheddar, red-chile grilled pork, smoky pineapple and red onions, bacon

“What can I say about the special fundido? Take al pastor, melt some cheese on it and throw some bacon on there for giggles. I mean, it’s really not fair. It’s too easy.”

Woodland Mushroom Enchiladas
Woodland Mushroom Enchiladas / Just-made tortillas, River Valley mushroom filling (oysters & shiitakes, Nichols Farm potatoes, Prairie Fruits goat cheese), rustic dark pasilla sauce, pickled wild hen of the woods mushrooms, añejo cheese

“I like funky cheese, mushrooms and pasilla sauce together. It’s a match made in heaven.”

Duck Criollo
Duck Criollo / Grilled red-chile Gunthorp duck breast, criollo sauce (tomato, chipotle chiles, carrot, raisins, pineapple, bacon), duck fat sweet potato mash, grilled green beans, duck prosciutto

“This is kind of sweet and savory all in one. I really like duck with fruit and the criollo sauce gets its sweetness from pineapple and raisins. Instead of garnishing it with bacon, I made duck prosciutto. And I wanted to do something different with the sweet potatoes, so I made them with duck fat. I like making dishes irresistible.”

Grilled Vegetable Chiles Rellenos
Grilled Vegetable Chiles Rellenos / Roasted poblano chiles, grilled vegetable filling (grilled tatume squash, chayote, huitlacoche, pozole corn, epazote), tomatillo corn sauce, Otter creek organic cheddar , dry Jack chicharrón

“This is one we used to do years ago and I wanted to bring it back. It’s cool to go back into the menu archives and find dishes that have been forgotten about … and this one is too good to have been forgotten about for as long as it has.”

Bass in Apricot-Tomatillo Sauce
Bass in Apricot-Tomatillo Sauce / Wood-grilled Florida striped bass, spicy apricot-tomatillo sauce (habanero, chamomille), queso añejo mashed potatoes, grilled baby broccoli, chamoy-glazed maitake mushrooms

“The whole dish is funky and interesting and likes to play with your entire pallet.

It took me probably three days to come up with this. It’s something we’ve never done before. Apricots and tomatillos go well together, the sweet and the tangy. I wanted to take that sauce and make it really, really interesting.

There are floral qualities in habanero chiles, and they go really well with things like tropical fruits, and apricots are like our version of a tropical fruit. So then I wanted one more level of scent, so I scented the sauce with chamomile. It all goes really, really well together.

You’ve got the tangy, the sweet, the floral qualities of the chile and the chamomile and the punch of the habanero itself. And of course, if you’ve got all that funk going on, you might as well put some queso añejo mashed potatoes and keep the funk going.”

Chicago Restaurant Week at Frontera!

Diners of Chicago, we’re here for you. Chicago Restaurant Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our great city’s vibrant dining scene. Here’s the full list of participating restaurants. 

At Frontera, it’s another chance to do what we do best: to serve you lovingly prepared regional Mexican cuisine, with generous-spirited hospitality. Here’s a look at the Chicago Restaurant Week happenings at Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Leña Brava.

Couple things to know: Keep in mind restaurant “week” is actually two weeks — Jan. 25-Feb. 7 — so there’s even more opportunity to experience our restaurants. And of course you’ll still be able to order from our full menus throughout the promotion.

Frontera Grill
Three-course lunch: $24
Three-course dinner: $36

Three-course lunch: $24

Leña Brava
Four-course dinner: $48

Chicken fideos and hoja santa tres leches: It’s Frontera’s May menu!

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Swiss Chard Tamales Fresh corn masa tamales flavored with local Swiss chard, serrano chiles, cilantro and parsley. Tangy tomatillo sauce, homemade fresh cheese, arugula salad.
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Bacon Guacamole, Fall Version Michoacan avocados, smoky morita chile, crispy Gunthorp bacon, bits of brown-butter butternut squash, grilled knob onions, dry Jack chicharrón.
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Chicken with Salsa Huevona Crema For making little soft tacos. Grilled Gunthorp chicken
breast, salsa huevona, housemade crema, Indiana Jack cheese, kale, tatume squash.
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Skirt Steak Queso Fundido Wisconsin Organic cheddar, herby grilled skirt steak, pickly chopped salsa, Mexican cincho cheese.
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Smoked Pork Enchiladas Smoked Gunthorp pork shoulder flavored with achiote, habanero,
sour orange and epazote. Tomato-habanero sauce, xnipec salsa.
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Pork in Tomamole Grill-roasted Gunthorp pork loin, tomamole, roasted butternut mash,
braised black kale, crispy butternut ribbons.
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Striped Bass with Guajillo-Pear Sauce Grilled chamoy-glazed Florida striped bass, zesty
guajillo-pear sauce, red chile rice, grilled pear salsa, pear chips.
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Shrimp Mojo de Ajo Spicy grilled fresh Gulf shrimp, mojo de ajo, herby green rice, poblano chile, Three Sisters Garden pea shoots, shrimp crunch.

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Chicken in Pasilla-Huitlacoche Sauce Grilled Gunthorp chicken, inky sauce of pasilla
chile and huitlacoche, crispy tortitas, grilled green beans, pickled local wild mushrooms.

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Sopa de Fruta Klug Farm blueberry sorbet, orange supremes, frozen Klug Farm
blueberries, sparkling moscato-like "broth."

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Duo de Flanes Traditional Mexican vanilla flan and creamy peanut butter flan. Nichols Farm apples two ways, caramelized peanut crunch.

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Pan de Muerto Warm, buttery brioche "Day of the Dead Bread" layered with piloncillo ice cream,
local pumpkin and toasted pecans.

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Boca Negra Gooey chocolate ganache cake, hibiscus poached pears, Mexican chocolate ice cream, chocolate crumble, almond brittle.

There’s so much #want on Frontera’s new menu. An incomplete list:

  • Those crispy, bacon-stuffed tortitas that come with the pork.
  • The duck carnitas stuffed in the tamal.

We repeat: The above list is incomplete. But scroll through the photos above and you’ll soon have a long list of your own.

Frontera is Headed to the ‘Burbs!

We’re hitting the road!

Frontera Grill is partnering with DwellSocial to bring group ordering to the suburbs. That’s right, our Frontera favorites are now available on weekends in select suburban locations. Here’s how it works: 

  • Sign up at DwellSocial to be notified when ordering is available in your area
  • Once notified, place your orders using the special link
  • Add on some margaritas, obviously
  • Arrive at the pickup spot at your designated time slot
  • Enjoy the soul-satisfying food of Mexico, right there in your own home


Friday, Nov. 20: Northbrook  (Sign up & Menu)
Saturday, Nov. 28: Libertyville (Sign up & Menu)
Saturday, Dec. 5: Glen Ellyn  (Sign up & Menu)

Want us to come to your area? Sign up here: http://ow.ly/WC7z30rkSj9

Frontera-on-the-Fly: A new lunch option at the bar



If you’ve been to lunch at Frontera lately you’ve probably seen a number of four- and six-tops, groups of people (probably co-workers) drinking margaritas like they’re going out of style (note: they’re not) and in general having a really, really good time—so good that you might wonder how productive they’ll be at work the rest of the day.

Lunches like that are awesome. But let’s be real—we can’t spend two hours drinking tequila and eating carne asada every day. That’s why today we’re launching a new, no-fuss lunch option at the Frontera bar. We’re calling it Frontera-on-the-Fly.

Frontera-on-the-Fly is the kind of lunch you can eat every day. It’s a smaller menu of some of our quicker items: guacamole, ceviche, tacos al carbón. You eat your salad, you eat your tostada, and before you know it you’re back at work.

See the new menu below. Or better yet—ask one of our bartenders.

Continue reading

Mango guacamole and oyster mushroom tamals—it’s Frontera’s new spring menu!

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Smoked Chicken Queso Fundido Otter Creek organic cheddar, chipotle glazed Gunthorp
chicken, crispy onions, cilantro.
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Tropical Guacamole Manila mango, crunchy cucumber, spicy morita chile, smoky onion.
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Mushroom Tamal Banana leaf-steamed fresh corn masa tamal, oyster & shiitake mushroom filling, toasty pasilla chile crema, brown butter chanterelle mushrooms, wild arugula.
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Chicken with Black Bean Sauce Grilled Gunthorp chicken breast, chipotle-black bean sauce, smoked sun-dried tomatoes, roasted potatoes, grilled green onions, Sonoma dry Jack cheese.
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Duck Carnitas Enchiladas Spicy Gunthorp duck carnitas, tomamole (tomatillo, serrano, pineapple, sesame seeds), grilled pineapple salsa (tomatillo, serrano, jícama).
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Brazo de Reina Yucatán’s famous giant tamal made with achiote flavored fresh corn masa, Swiss chard, egg, pepitas, Yucatecan pipián, tangy pickled red onions, Tracey’s pea shoots.
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Chicken in Fideos Wood-grilled Gunthorp chicken breast, fideos (Mexican vermicelli) in red chile broth, grilled fiddleheads, spicy maitake mushrooms, dry Jack “chicharrón.”
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Pork in Tomatillo Garlic-marinated grill-roasted Gunthorp pork loin, tomatillo chicharrón sauce, añejo cheese flavored tamal, homemade crema, red watercress.
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Shrimp in Verde Mexican blue shrimp, adobo verde (cilantro, serrano, garlic, olive oil), cucumber, avocado, lime, Bayless Garden micro greens, American paddlefish caviar.

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Shrimp in Red Chile Pipián Spicy chipotle-grilled fresh Gulf shrimp, red pipián, black bean rice, limey grilled green beans, crispy onions.

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Flan X2 A duo of caramel custards: traditional Mexican vanilla flan & maple flan with toasted oats, amaranth-almond granola, Spence Farm maple syrup drizzle.

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Camote Cake Super moist cake of local carrot & Mexican white sweet potato, cream cheese
frosting, Xtabentun-cream cheese ice cream, coconut cookie crumble.

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Sopa de Frutas Luscious honey Manila mango sorbet, mint-infused pineapple, candied orange
zest, sparkling Beck Grove blood orange “broth.”

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Chocolate-Ancho Fudge Cake Individual, ancho-infused bittersweet chocolate cake, peanut butter ice cream, honey Manila mango, toasted peanut brittle, ancho chile salt.

Mangos show up a couple times in Frontera’s spring menu: There’s mango in the guacamole (don’t dismiss the power of fruit in guacamole, people) and mango sorbet in the sopa de frutas. But mangos aren’t the only signs of spring: We’ve got fiddlehead ferns in our chicken fideos, shrimp in a herb-packed adobo and carrots in our, um, carrot cake. (A note about that carrot cake: the strip of dehydrated carrot that comes on the plate may looks like bacon—it’s not, but it’s just as delicious.)

Restaurant Week at Frontera!

Braised Short Rib, Oaxacan Pasilla Salsa at Leña Brava

Chicago Restaurant Week is one of our favorite times of the year. Why? We get another chance to show off what we do best, while you get a great bargain. Here’s the rundown of what our restaurants are offering Jan. 24-Feb. 9 2020. Pro tip: Make those reservations now – we always fill up quick!

Bar Sótano
$36 three-course dinner MENU

Frontera Grill
$24 three-course lunch MENU
$36 three-course dinner MENU

$24 three-course lunch MENU

Leña Brava
$24 three-course brunch MENU
$48 four-course dinner MENU

Cruz Blanca
$24 three-course lunch MENU
$36 three-course dinner MENU