HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

What is with Frontera Grill?????

largerabbit Jun 28, 2006 03:36 AM

Food is fine but the torture of customers is ridiculous. We haven't been in a while but guests from out of town led us to contact the restaurant and believe what we were told on the day of our visit. "Party of 8? No reservations, but if you get there when we open, a table at 6:00 shouldn't be a problem." The first sign of trouble on arriving with a line out the front door was when the person at the desk asked us incredulously, "Who could have told you that?" Mostly down hill from there. We really wanted to have a good time, but the "you can leave now or we will call the police" message from the welcoming desk after I waited 15 minutes to pay the bill discretely was unbelievable.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. a
    Akatonbo RE: largerabbit Jun 28, 2006 01:01 PM

    This is precisely why we usually eat at Topolobampo - takes reservations, food is better, room is peaceful and quiet compared to the frenzy of Frontera. That said, we have had good luck eating in the bar at Frontera, where they even have a few tables in the back. All you have to do to get a spot there is hover until another party leaves, then you can order off the Frontera menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Akatonbo
      LFrasco RE: Akatonbo Jun 29, 2006 03:44 PM

      I have to agree, I love Frontera Grill, but the service has become more and more of a turn off.

      While I have never been asked to leave. I have on more than one occassion been told there was a 3+ hour wait. That isn't the service's fault, but why not just take reservations.

      The arrogance of the people working there is amazing, the waiters of late have been anything but helpful, and the overall experience has just become bad.

      Maybe if I get two or three Blue Agave Margaritas I won't be as mad.

      Frontera Fresco will have to suffice.

    2. c
      chris RE: largerabbit Jun 29, 2006 05:20 PM

      The past two times we ate at Frontera the service was excellent, with the one exception being the host. Most of the hostesses are pleasant enough but I found one gentleman there to be so condescending and rude, it was almost amusing. If I was filming a movie and needed a stereotypical snoot, I'd offer him the part hands down.

      Last time we ate there, while we were waiting a couple came in and were told it would be a 2 1/2 hour wait and when they said okay it seemed to annoy him. Most of the people I encountered there have an attitude of "this is a great place, we'll give you a great time" but it's the few that have the unfortunate "this is a great place, we don't need your business" attitude that I'd hate to see hurt their reputation.

      I'll put up with attitude for a few moments if it means I get a great meal though and otherwise good service though.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chris
        Akatonbo RE: chris Jun 29, 2006 08:22 PM

        I think I know which host you're referring to, and I really think he isn't so much rude as just really, really stressed and harried. I think Frontera is a victim of its own success - the crowds can be incredible there on a weekend night - and it's been going on for decades with little let-up, unlike some other more flash-in-the-pan places.

        1. re: Akatonbo
          Darren72 RE: Akatonbo Jun 29, 2006 08:31 PM

          This makes sense, but it's their decision not to take reservations. If you have huge demand there are only a few choices: take reservations, have long waits, raise prices, or expand.

          In any case, there's no excuse for tolerating poor manners or poor service, esp for a restaurateur who knows the difference.

          My strategy (because it's a great restaurant and I want to continue to go) is to eat lunch there, or go at "off hours. Weeknight dinners can work also.

          1. re: Akatonbo
            chris RE: Akatonbo Jun 29, 2006 10:41 PM

            I felt the same attitude when we dined there on fairly quiet afternoon...no wait, lots of empty tables--we may have been after the lunch rush so I'll give them that.

            I don't mean to pick on the guy, I know it's a high stress job, but don't you think it's a problem when I say "this one guy has attitude" and you have an idea of who it is especially when I've seen at least six different people at that desk?

            But when all is said and done--it's certainly not *that* bad, I've received far worse attitude at far less reputable places.

            If the pressure is too much--which is quite likely, I know I couldn't handle it--then as Darren said in the post above--start requiring reservations during peak hours.

            Topo or Frontera should be on everyone's list of places to go if they haven't been yet--locals or visitors, it's a must-eat place--that's the reputation, they should live it up and not try to scare people away. So many people go out of their way to drop $50+ a person to eat there, I doubt anyone there is being compensated poorly.

            1. re: chris
              Akatonbo RE: chris Jun 30, 2006 12:45 PM

              Both you and Darren72 have good points - I guess what I'm saying is that I never took the guy's attitude personally. As for finding a solution to all the frenzy - the crowds and the long waits - my guess is that they like it that way. Makes the place seem desirable and exciting.

              We went there on a Tuesday evening a few months ago, and it was practically vacant (we were shocked at how empty it was). They were soooo glad to see us! I don't know if their emptiness that night was an abberation (smoking in bars had just been banned), or if Tuesday is their "off-night." Maybe someone who's been there on a recent Tuesday can shed some light?

        2. m
          mike_d RE: largerabbit Jun 29, 2006 08:10 PM

          While I haven't had bad waitstaff experiences, I have to agree about the host station. We were there three weeks ago, at 7:30/8 pm, they said 2 hours, I laughed and said that would be fine. Half an hour later, we were at a table. They did seem annoyed that I was okay with the wait.

          Also, yes to one of the other posts, we've eaten at the bar twice and it's been fine. Once at a table, once at the bar. Never a problem, good service, nice time.

          1. c
            charve1 RE: largerabbit Jul 3, 2006 08:34 PM

            we ate at topolobampo recently and were told it would be a 2 to 2 1/2 hour wait (friday night about 8:30). they seemed surprised when we said we would wait. then, we had a table in about 1 hour, 15 minutes. i think they use that inflated timeframe to discourage some people from waiting.

            1 Reply
            1. re: charve1
              Darren72 RE: charve1 Jul 4, 2006 09:21 PM

              Topolobampo or Frontera Grill?

            2. c
              ceegee RE: largerabbit Jul 4, 2006 06:11 AM

              Although not in the same area, I think Adobo Grill is a great Frontera alternative.

              1. m
                mattlap_2000 RE: largerabbit Jul 6, 2006 02:14 PM

                I've been to Frontera twice now - and can't possibly reccomend it. The food was fine, but it's not worth the trouble - go to Salpicon, eat food just as good, and don't spend 5 hours waiting.

                Show Hidden Posts