One cannot talk about Chicago’s food scene without acknowledging the influence of one Rick Bayless. Bayless started his career as a host of PBS show Cooking Mexican (and later, One Plate at a Time) and spent years researching and studying Mexican cooking before publishing his first book. A James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur first opened Frontera Grill in Chicago with his wife in 1987. Since then, their footprint has expanded across the city and in other cities across the country.
Frontera Grill remains one of the most well-known restaurants in Chicago. Specializing in contemporary regional Mexican cuisine, Frontera transforms the ingredients of local Midwestern farmers to dishes that celebrate vibrant flavors of Mexican cuisine. Next door, Xoco focuses on street food in more of a fast-casual format. From tortas to empanadas to churros (and hot chocolate for dipping), the “little sister” to Frontera Grill is perfect for meals and snacks in between, especially for those without patience or who forgot to make a reservation at Frontera.
Frontera Grill: 445 N Clark St, Chicago
Xoco: 449 N Clark St, Chicago
Frontera Grill: 11:30am – 9pm Tuesday – Friday, 10:30-9pm weekends
Xoco: 11am – 9pm Tuesday – Saturday (closed Monday and Sunday)
|Price||$$-$$$ for Frontera with entrees ranging from $18-30, $ for Xoco with everything under $15|
|Aesthetic||Mexican but like with Epcot energy|
Go here for: a casual family sit-down dinner at Frontera, a quick lunch or snack or dessert at Xoco
Order this: any of the regional specialties that speaks to you (they often rotate seasonally) and a tequila cocktail of choice; churro and Aztec hot chocolate for dipping at Xoco
Amount of time to spend: as little as 10 min for Xoco, maybe up to a couple hours for a leisurely meal at Frontera
When to come: weekdays are less crowded in general
Getting here: the closest CTA station is Grand (red), also close to stops for buses that run on Dearborn (22, 36) and LaSalle (156)
Other things to note:
Last visited: July 2020
Last updated: March 2021