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HELP! Frontera Grill v. Nacional 27

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I'm visiting Chicago this weekend to meet up with a few friends from college. One of them suggested we eat at Japonais on Saturday, but I am feeling more like nuevo latino rather than sushi...

Between Frontera Grill or Nacional 27, which would be better for a group of 5?

Or is there another place I am overlooking that would be better? Mas, perhaps?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I've never dined at Frontera, but I know that Nacional 27 is awesome, and they take reservations unlike Frontera.

    1. My personal preference is for Salpicon or Frontera over National 27, but I haven't heard of anyone being disappointed at N.27.

      1. In all fairness to Nacional 27, I've only had drinks and appetizers there, it's not bad but I don't think it's in the same league as Frontera. If you don't want to deal with waiting, the no reservation factor may be a deal breaker for Frontera on a Saturday night.

        I've never eaten at Salpicon, but I've always loved Adobo Grill! Adobo may not be in the same league as Frontera either, but they have creative food, great margaritas, and tableside guacamole!


        1. Of course, if you don't mind paying a little more, you can try Rick Bayless's other restaurant next door to Frontera, Topolobampo, which takes reservations (if you can get one).

          And, if it's nuevo latino you're looking for, rather than haute mexicana, you might take a look at Cuatro. It's got a nice Miami/South-Beach feel to it, IMO, sans the crowds of Frontera and Topo. Here's their website:


          1. According to the Frontera website,

            "Advance reservations taken for parties of 5-10. Same day reservations accepted for smaller parties."

            So, try making a reservation for your group of five.

            1. I would definitely consider Salpicon... IMHO, it is much better than Frontera, but slightly lower than Topolobompo...

              1. I'm from outside of Philly and enjoyed both Frontera and N-27. One has more upscale food (N-27), is a bit more elegant, while the other has equally good food but there's the line problem if you don't make reservations. We found both to be winners in our book!

                1. Our meal a year ago at Salpicon was so-so at best, I'd never return. But I've been back again and again to Frontera. Ambience, decor, food, service are so far above Salpicon, in my opinion, that I am surprised to ever see that name come up here. Now this is all based upon one experience, but that one was enough for me.

                  1. My two meals at Salpicon have been good to very good, but not in the league of Ixcapuzalco (before it moved, I do not recommend it now) or Chilpancingo (which apparently recently closed). I think Salpicon's overall experience, while good, is not quite in line with its prices. I haven't been to Frontera or Nacional 27 yet so can't comment on them.

                    1. While I think the food is better at Salpicon than N.27, both are very good and N.27 might be better for a group of 5. Salpicon is more intimate. Still, I've been to all 3 (including Japonais) with groups and the best time was had at Japonais. It's pretty hard not to have fun at that place.

                      1. Although all of the restaurants mentioned above are good, I think Nacional 27 is an ideal place to dine with friends. You should try to reserve a banquette near the dance floor. At 11 pm they clear the tables in the middle to reveal a dance floor for some unbelievable salsa dancing! The specialty drink menu is equally as creative and tasty as the food... it's the perfect place for a late dinner and dancing with old friends.