We were invited to Frontera Cocina yesterday at Disney Springs to try the new Taste of Oaxaca menu from Chef Rick Bayless. The James Beard Award winning chef – seven times over now! – has been changing up some menu items seasonally, allowing guests new, creative dishes on a regular basis. In addition to this new Taste of Oaxacana menu, there are a few seasonal offerings including a Pumpkin Cream Tart that we tried. We were told that those items and the Taste of Oaxaca menu were to be in effect through January. I will be showing all of the dishes we were served.
Frontera Cocina opened in 2016, it’s hard to believe it’s over two years old already! The restaurant can be found in the Town Center area of Disney Springs, not far from Sprinkles.
Disney Springs is my favorite place in the area to go for dining, there are so many wonderful options and Frontera Cocina is a unique choice with a solid menu of Mexican cuisine. The restaurant also has limited to-go window, as well as drink specials on various days of the week. Frontera Cocina yearly hosts a celebration in honor of Dia de los Muertos (from Nov. 1- 4 this year), we attended in 2016. Frontera has a nicely detailed website with information, and don’t forget Happy Hour also!
We enjoyed entertainment as we began our dinner.
We were offered several Taste of Oaxaca menu drinks to try. The first was the Mezcalita with Banhez mezcal, Ancho Reyes liquour, orange juice and chocolate bitters. This was my favorite of the three drinks, strong and not too sweet with some spice to it. Really a very nice option and one I would order on my own.
Chef Bayless talked to us tableside about some of the offerings. This is the Guacamole with Chile-Lime Chapulines (grasshoppers). He told us this was the most adventurous item on the menu. The guacamole itself was delicious, I only ate one grasshopper to try it. The nice thing is, you don’t have to eat all the chapulines, or two people sharing with one wanting to try them and the other not – it’s easy to just eat the guacamole itself. I think the grasshoppers are supposed to be crunchy and they weren’t, they were softer and so I didn’t really notice a major taste when I scooped one up with a chip, guacamole and one chapulin. Chapulines are very popular in Oaxaca as protein and can be used in entrees, appetizers and such.
Chef Bayless answered a few questions of ours, and spent time working in the kitchen and meeting guests.
Next up, this is on the seasonal menu and not the Oaxaca one – this is the Frontera Harvest Salad. It comes with Argula and shaved brussels sprouts, cilantro-serrano vinaigrette, poblano rajas, pomegranate, mezcal infused cranberries, bacon, goat cheese, and pepitas. It has a kick to it but also a nice crunchiness from several different ingredients.
Our next drink is the Oaxaca Daiquiri with Paranubes Oaxacan rum, banana, guanabana liquor, agave nectar and served frozen with brown sugar-chia rim. This is a lighter drink and on the sweet side.
Entrees were brought out. Portion sizes at Frontera Cocina have always been generous, and all of our prepared dishes were.
From the seasonal menu, this is the Herby-Spicy Grilled Swordfish with plantain rice, roasted tomatillo-serrano aioli and sauteed Swiss chard. I don’t eat fish but this was Jeff’s favorite item, he said he’s never had a more perfect swordfish dish.
This is my favorite entree, from the Taste of Oaxaca menu – the Oaxacan Mole Chicken. Crispy half chicken, Oaxacan red mole, plaintain rice, warm corn tortillas. It contains gluten and seeds. I know it looks like a lot of sauce and it was, but I cut pieces of chicken to use in a tortilla with just a little sauce. The inside of the chicken was juicy and iit is just a wonderful dish. The chicken is on the bone.
The Roasted Bone-In Beef Shortrib, Mole de Cacahuate was very popular with everyone. It is a 12 hour slow-roasted bone-in shortrib, with roasted peanut mole, Cotija mashed potatoes, sauteed Swiss chard, crispy onions, and toasted peanuts. It practically falls off the bone, there isn’t a need for the knife. The meat is tender and delicious. Just as with the chicken, there is quite a bit of sauce – Jeff likes more, I like less and the dish worked out well for both.
The Chile-Roasted Cauliflower Gratinado comes with toasted sesame seeds, golden raisins, and crunchy Cotija cheese. I don’t generally eat sesame seeds, golden raisins or cheese and yet this is a very tasty side item. It’s hard to explain the taste because it isn’t like anything I’ve had before.
Dessert was delicious, both items. It is rare for me to order a tart, I just don’t seem to find tarts where the exterior and interior seem a good combination and I usually just eat the center. But here, the graham cracker crust was really nice with the spiced pumpkin espuma (foam), whipped cajeta cream, and allspice candied pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin filling is really creamy, I like pumpkin flavor and this was a really great dessert. It is on the seasonal menu.
From the Taste of Oaxaca, this is the Buñuelitos. I’ve never had this dish before. Crispy Flour tortillas, cajeta-caramel mousse, red wine drizzle with raw sugar & Mexican cinnamon, dark chocolate shavings, mezcal-infused cranberries and roasted almonds. Typing it out, I would never have ordered this dessert sight unseen based on ingredients. But I loved the combination of cream with the crispiness of the tortillas.
I only tried a sip of the Mexican Chocolate Martini, Jeff ordered it and I wanted to have just a taste. It has Montelobos mezcal, chocolate liqueor, orange juice, and chocolate bitters. It is very chocolately, like a dark chocolate taste. I also was told it is a very strong drink, which I didn’t expect. With dinner, the second two drinks are a little sweet for me to drink with food but the Mezcalita was a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Here are a few photos from inside the restaurant.
You can see the open kitchen in the back of this photo.
The colorful mural here is seen as soon as you walk in the door. It and the chandelier help create a warm glow for Frontera Cocina at night.
A Dia de los Muertos display was set up in the window. I knew very little about the holiday when we visited two years ago for it, but now with the movie Coco, it’s become more familiar to a wider audience.
You can find out more about Frontera Concina at the official website and reserve a table there as well. The restaurant also has a terrific Facebook page for up-to-date information. Thank you to Frontera Cocina for having us out! Reviews are always our honest opinion of what we experienced.