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Jun 22, 2006 10:54 AM

Frontera or Salpicon?

  • p

I'll be in Chicago for a few days in July and had planned to go to Frontera, as I've been a longtime fan of Rick Bayless. Some recent posts about Salpicon have been quite favorable, so now I'm in a quandry. . . your thoughts please.

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  1. Both are excellent. I prefer Salpicon, personally. One big difference is that Frontera is generally packed and very loud, while Salpicon is much more of a "locals" place and tends not to attract as many tourists. Both menus are on-line, so you can see the differences in the dishes. Since you've been to Frontera a few times, give Salpicon a try.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Darren

      Thanks for the info. Just a bit of clarification - I've not been to Frontera (nor to Chicago). I met Rick Bayless many years ago when he came to Boston, and still use his "Authentic Mexican" cookbook.

      1. re: phoebek

        Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood you. Frankly, then, I've changed my mind. Personally, I prefer to go to Salpicon. But I live in Chicago and have been to both places several times. But there is a certain thrill in going to a restaurant of a chef whose books you read, or whose show you've watched. You might as well "connect the dots," so to speak and visit Frontera on this trip.

        Also, if you are willing to spend the extra money, you might try Topolombapo, instead of Frontera Grill. The two share a building, but Topolo is a more formal dinner than Frontera (again, the menus and prices are on-line). Topolo really is a unique dining experience. Strangely, it receives a ton less attention on Chowhound than do Chicago's continental/contemporary American restaurants (such as Blackbird). But it really is a culinary treasure.

        1. re: Darren

          I'll qualify this first by saying I've never eaten at Frontera (have had drinks at the bar, though). I have, however, eaten at Topo many times and never been disappointed. It's small and quiet and it's hard to believe that an open doorway separates it from the rather loud Frontera as none of that ruckus penetrates Topo. Since you are a fan of Bayless I think you would like either Frontera or Topo; one of the key advantages (at least for me) is that Topolobampo takes reservations and Frontera does not. Both of these restaurants are also open for lunch if that's an option for you - same great food but lower prices.

          Please post back after your trip and share your experience with us.

          1. re: Kman

            Just a quick note on some of the things about Frontera. We've yet to eat at topo, but have at Frontera 4 times now. The room is loud/loud-ish, but if you're like us and eat late, it's not a problem. Things quiet down, you don't wait that long after 8 pm for a table. And despite the rush and volume, the food's always good. The mole a couple weeks ago was fantastic.

          2. re: Darren

            I agree that Topolobampo is greatly under-rated on this board. I like it better than Salpican, but then, it's been years since we've been to Salpican, and I'm looking forward to giving it another try, since so many Hounds like it. But you won't go wrong at Topo - the Sopa Azteca is my favorite version ever, and we've never had a meal there that was less than wonderful.

          3. re: phoebek

            I love topolo best. I've eaten at both Frontera and topolo and can say it's well worth the few extra bucks to dine at topolo. We found that it is really is just a little bit more and the dinning experience is so much nicer at Topolo. I guess I've always been lucky and have seen Rick ( and most of the time his wife) at the rest. every time I've gone. If your a fan, like me, it will really enhance your dinning experience.

        2. Definitely Salpicon. Frontera is good, but I don't find that it has been clicking on all cylinders, as it used to. Salpicon is outstanding.

          1. The good food you might be served at Frontera will not compensate for the poor treatment you will get.