Bienvenidos! We’re coming to you from Disney Springs!
We recently had the pleasure of dining atcelebrity chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina to check out their new menu items. Chef Bayless is known for his authentic Mexican cooking — you won’t find chimichangas or Tex-Mex in his restaurants! But don’t worry, you’ll find big flavors, amazing cocktails, and a gorgeous atmosphere. Hungry yet? Let’s get to eating, shall we?
Several times a year, Rick Bayless and his team roll out special menus at Frontera Cocina, celebrating the flavors and foods of different regions in Mexico. We were recently invited to kick off this year’s “Taste of Oaxaca,” where Rick Bayless himself was there to discuss the dishes near and dear to his heart.
Taking a look at the new menu, we were excited to see several new options — as well as some returning favorites.
First up, cocktails! We started with the Oaxacan Club, with is a unique twist on a “Clover Club.”
This cocktail is made with lemon juice, raspberry cordial, egg whites, and Gracias a Dios Gin. The gin is what makes this drink special — it’s distilled with the same agave plant as many types of mezcal, giving it a smokey taste. We loved this one — the smokey taste of the gin was perfectly balanced with the sweet raspberry cordial, and the egg whites gave it a creamy texture. We could sip on it all night!
We also tried the Apple Temptation, which has just three perfectly paired ingredients.
The Apple Temptation is made with mezcal and fresh-pressed green apple juice, and finished with a tajin chile-lime rim. And when they say freshly-pressed apple juice, they mean it — the juice is literally squeezed with each drink order.
This one was another winner — the tartness of the apple juice paired nicely with the smokey mezcal. And we loved the spice from the rim! If you’re an apple fan, put this on your must-list STAT.
We also enjoyed one of Chef Bayless’ favorite cordials — Real Minero Pechuga Mezcal.
He explained to us that all mezcal is distilled twice, but this gets distilled three times to enhance the flavor. But what really makes it unique — and grants it the name “Pechuga” — is that a chicken breast is hung in the liquor while distilling. No, we aren’t kidding! This is a very old-fashioned and traditional way to make mezcal. In fact, pechuga literally translates to breast in Spanish.
This Mezcal is served in a jicarita — which is a traditional Oaxacan cup made from a hollowed-out gourd. And you get to keep this gorgeously detailed cup as a take-home, should you order it!
If you’re wondering how mezcal is traditionally consumed in Oaxaca, prepare to be amazed…or creeped out.
Why yes, those are grasshoppers! Or chapulines in Spanish. And no, these aren’t here for a fear factor type competition. It’s tradition to first eat an orange slice, then take the mezcal shot, and follow it with a chapuline. Kind of like Salt, Tequila, Lime…except it’s Orange. Mezcal. Grasshopper.
Honestly, it’s not HORRIBLE. In fact, the orange and mezcal combination is delicious — sweet and smokey. And the grasshopper mostly just tastes like a roasted, crunchy, salty snack. But…it’s still a grasshopper so if the idea of eating bugs creeps you out, you may wanna stick to cocktails without bug chasers. (Spoiler alert: this isn’t the last time you’ll see grasshoppers in this post.)
Now, onto the appetizers! We started with the Golden Plantain Croquettes.
These are fried plantains, filled with cotija cheese, and topped with an almond mole, crema, and almonds.
Chef Bayless talked to us a lot about mole — which is a traditional Mexican sauce. Many people think there is just one kind of mole, but we learned there are actually seven different varieties, and this Oaxaca menu highlights several of them. In this dish, the almond mole is the star of the show — with a creamy consistency, and crunch from the actual nuts.
The fried plantain had a natural sweetness and paired perfectly with the creamy cheese filling. We loved this new addition to the menu! It was unique, tasty, and a wonderful way to kick off the meal.
Next up, Frontera Cocina’s famous guacamole.
And no — your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the chapulines are back!
This grasshopper topped-guac has been on the menu before, and honestly, it’s VERY good. Mostly because, if you load up your chip with enough avocado and red onion, the grasshoppers just add a bit of salt and crunch, not an overwhelming flavor. But if you’re not into insects on your apps, you can always order their original guacamole. If you’re a guacamole fan, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than Frontera’s! With just the right amount of lime and zest, it’s perfect guac every time.
The guacamole is served with two of Frontera Cocina’s signature salsas — smoky chipotle and roasted tomatillo.
Both of these are fabulous with fresh, bright flavors. We particularly loved the smokey chipotle, which added a little heat to our chips.
For our first entree, we tried the Oaxacan Green Mole Grilled Grouper.
This herb-filled dish is grilled grouper, made with cilantro, epazote, and parsley. It’s served on a bed of white beans and plantain rice, with spicy salad greens, and features a green mole sauce.
This flaky fish fell apart with just the touch of a fork, and was incredibly fresh. While it might be too fishy for those very seafood-adverse, it wasn’t overwhelmingly strong. The plantain rice has beautiful chunks of plantains in it, which provided a lovely sweetness to the dish and balanced the savory herbs. We loved this green mole as well –which had a mild flavor and didn’t overpower the dish.
Next, the Oaxacan Mole Chicken.
This dish is currently on the full-time Frontera Cocina menu, and we can see why! It’s half a roasted chicken served with Oaxacan red mole and plantain rice.
This is a perfect dish for less-adventurous eaters to try. The red mole was superb, with just a little bit of heat from the chilies, and was again, balanced nicely by the hint of sweet from the plantain rice. And the chicken itself was cooked perfectly — tender and moist!
We were also given homemade corn tortillas to enjoy with both the fish and chicken dishes, so you could make your own little tacos if you so desired!
Lastly, we were excited to try the short ribs again, as they’ve been a favorite of ours in the past!
These short ribs are slow-roasted with the bone-in for 12 hours, and come with Cotija mashed potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard, and are topped with a roasted almond mole, crispy onions, and toasted almonds.
All we can say is — HOLY MOLE. These are INCREDIBLE. It’s very clear these were cooked for a long time (seriously, 12 hours!!), because they are “fall apart in your mouth, you could cut them with a spoon” tender. And the cotija mashed potatoes are still a delight — smooth and creamy, but not as heavy as other mashed potatoes. (Psst — these are on the regular menu too, so you can enjoy them 365.)
We also LOVED the crunch from the onions and the almonds. And speaking of almonds, the roasted almond mole was our favorite of the night! Hearty enough to compliment the meat, but not overpower it, we couldn’t get enough of this Mexican comfort food. The short ribs, as well as the entrees, were a very generous portion as well. With an appetizer, they could likely be shared between two people. Which is great because then you’d have extra room for our favorite course…
…dessert! And trust us, you’re going to want this one.
Say hello to the Peanut Butter Chocolate Trifle!
This gorgeous creation is layers of homemade Devil’s Food cake and peanut butter mousse topped with spicy roasted Spanish nuts, chocolate sauce, and peanut brittle. And it is as delicious as it looks.
The smooth peanut butter mousse was so creamy and was a perfect balance to the rich, moist cake. Throw in a little bit of spice and crunch from the nuts, and this thing is seriously good. Like, one of the best desserts we’ve had in a while (and we eat lots of dessert!).
Save room for this one — you can thank us later.
Overall, we really enjoyed this new seasonal menu at Frontera Cocina. The flavors were bold and bright, and everything we had was cooked perfectly. While this menu may seem a bit adventurous at first glance, we were pleasantly surprised and delighted by each course and think just about everyone will find something they enjoy. We look forward to our next visit to Frontera Cocina — though in the future, we’ll probably eat a few less insects!
Want to learn more about eating in Disney Springs? Check out this DFB video!
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Have you eaten at Frontera Cocina in Disney Springs? Let us know about your experience in the comments!
Disclosure: In nearly all circumstances, Disney Food Blog writers and photographers pay full price for their own travel, hotel, food, beverage, and event tickets. We do this because it’s important to us as journalists to ensure not only that we give you unbiased opinions, but also that you can trust us to do so since we’re paying our own way. On rare occasions, when we are invited by a company to attend a preview as media, and when we choose to accept that invitation, we will always make you, our readers, aware of that situation. Today, we were invited by Frontera Cocina to attend their media preview for their new menu. Note that when we attend events as media we are 1) Not required to review that event/food on any of our channels, and 2) Not required to review that event/food favorably. You can always count on DFB to give you a 100% unbiased and honest review of any event that we attend, food that we eat, or beverage that we drink. You can see more in our Disclosure Policy. Thank you for reading. — AJ