Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless and Chicago O'Hare Dining

Oh airport food, how you are only topped in bleh-ness, and grossness, and blandness, and gummy and chewy and salty and sweatiness by airline food. But wait, after a terrible experience at Sky Bridge Bar and Grill, Rick Bayless gives me hope! More than hope, he gives me such great food at O'Hare that I forgot for just a second I was in an airport...

Tortas Frontera, part of the Frontera Grill franchise of Rick Bayless, has a storefront right in the heart of darkness - O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Long the bane of travelers because their runways were not equipped to handle the snowy conditions Chicago deals out, O'Hare was the worst. Delays, cancelations, and the in-your-face Chicago attitude that pierces right through the American Airlines hub right into what seems like every stewardess and gate agent at the airport. So an extra thank you goes out to Bayless, for not only making O'Hare a bearable stop, but an enjoyable one.

Also, kudos to the wait staff and cashiers at Frontera Grill for being polite, friendly, and an all around joy. Your attitudes are not what I've come to expect while at the airport, so thank you!

And the food is fantastic! Stupid good. You'd think you stopped off at a specialty Mexican sandwich joint in any major city in the US. The prices are, well, Bayless-airport prices, but when you pay $7-10 for a nasty two-day old sandwich or salad, or $10-15 at the local Chilis-2Go for anything, who cares! This is the best food you will ever have in an airport. This may be the best Mexican torta sandwich you ever have. The guacamole is awe-inspiring. The salsas are delicious. The chocolate pecan bar was a tasty little desert to go.

I've had the fully dressed guacamole, pepito, and smoky garlic shrimp tortas, and corn & poblano chowder so far. I will keep going back until I try everything on the menu, because it's just that good. I have not eaten anything there that has not been great, not good, not very good, but great! (think Tony the Tiger.)
Smokey Garlic Shrimp
No wonder Tortas was named the best restaurant in a US airport. I've eaten at about half the list, and while they are better than most airport food, Tortas is a head and shoulders above every other airport restaurant in the US. I would not be surprised to see Bayless put one in other airports, or the downtown of a major city or two.

Oh, and the Skybridge Bar in the F terminal. F! It's terrible. Grimy, dirty, poorly managed, not clean, greasy, gross. I can't say enough about how you should avoid this place. Go to
McDonald's (that's right, I just recommended McDonald's over it!)!

Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless
4.5 of 5

.5 of 5 (why .5, at least it's human food)

1.5 of 5

1 comment:

  1. You know, I didn't think I ever wanted to fly into Chicago again, but you've convinced me that with a long enough layover it would be worth it. I love reading your enthusiasm for airport food, it must be good.