as aforementioned, we had our hearts set on one man’s restaurant. it’s absolutely one of those “when the hell are you going to do this again?!” moments on our trip. after our failed attempt at having a gorgeous meal in las vegas (gotta love that la rush-hour traffic, and getting stranded in san bernadino) here we were about 2,000 miles from sin city– our shot at redemption. the entire evening was devoted to the culinary stylings of mr. bayless, specifically frontera grill. that’s him on the right.
i watched the first season of top chef masters and absolutely loved seeing rick compete, and eventually, take the title. but chicago is so far from los angeles, and i had no ties to the city, so i felt i’d never end up going. fast forward to planning the road trip, and hello! chicago was an obvious choice to stop in. and since we were staying more than 12 hours, we could actually plan something out. the only catch was that frontera takes only a handful of reservations, weeks in advance, the rest is first come first serve. take a guess what category we fell into. get there maybe half an hour after it opened for service– it’s approximately a 2 hour wait.
but no! we’ve literally come too far at this point to say “nahhh” and eat at some other place. which, actually, i’m sure would have been a fine dinner, but, not what we signed up for. “call us or come back in about an hour and a half to check in”, says the hostess. so the only thing we can do is accept our wait time and head to a bar around the corner in hopes of making the minute hand go by quicker.
when it was time to check in, lady luck was on our side. our table is ready, which is great because everyone knows that once you start drinking, you get awfully hungry awfully fast. first order of the evening, margaritas! potent, delicious little things. i’ve never been a fan of the frozen slushy version, so i was glad it wasn’t even an option. up next comes the shrimp ceviche, served in a martini glass. garlic, onion and citrus action– we inhaled it straight away, chips, everything, gone. even drinking the leche de tigre it had been marinating in. it was that good. i had the duck enchiladas, and evan got tacos al pastor. by the way we were eating you’d have thought we had never seen food before. “this is so good” was all i could say.
and because you either go big or go home, a tasty dessert that i can’t remember the name of closed out the evening. some cornmeal cake type thing and a fabulous ice cream. their menu changes monthly, so since it has taken me, uh, longer than a month, to tell you about this place, i cannot refer to the website any longer. how embarrassing is that?
after our unprecedented 2nd night in the same hotel, we woke up earlier than normal to get a start on the drive to cleveland. because you already know what i was itching to see. we were crossing time zones – so we had one hour less than usual, and this was also the first time we had a deadline of sorts. i stole my hotel pen and notepad as usual and we were out the door.
and off to the rock hall we went.