Disney Springs has quickly become our favorite dining location in Orlando with the addition of exciting new options seemingly opening up every few months. Not only are there several new restaurants in development – such as Jaleo and the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill – but menu changes and newly added brunches have been popping up at several of our favorite eateries. One of the restaurants which regularly mixes up the menu is Frontera Cocina, and this week the restaurant debuted a new Oaxaca-themed menu which highlights the rich historical flavors harvested in the Mexican Pacific coast region. Frontera Cocina chef Rick Bayless describes the inspiration for the new menu:
“Oaxaca is a magical land, stretching from the fertile waters of Mexico’s Pacific coast to highland villages producing prized heirloom corn, beans, pumpkin, coffee, and mezcal. It is the land of intricate moles, rustic and ancient traditions (yes, roasted grasshoppers are a specialty!), and Mexico’s most beloved chocolate. All those who visit Oaxaca fall under its delicious spell.”
Pumpkin, coffee, and…. grasshoppers? Talk about burying the lede! That was enough to pique our interest, as we enjoy the unique flavors in everything we venture out to try. Featured on the new menu are two new entrees, a dessert, three specialty beverages, and of course, the grasshopper filled appetizer. Because Frontera Cocina’s offerings always look just as good as they taste, we called in SATURDAY SIX’s ace photographer Brandon Glover to do justice to this new menu.
Appetizer: Guacamole with Chile-Lime Chapulines
Paired with smoky chipotle and herby tomatillo-salsa, roasted tomatillo, guajillo lime toasted grasshoppers, warm tortilla chips, cilantro, onions ($11.)
Who among us isn’t a major fan of chips and salsa when sitting down to a fine meal? The guacamole was nice and chunky, and the chipotle sauce had a strong smoky flavor. However, I preferred the herby tomatillo-salsa, which reminded me of a sauce I put on everything while on a recent trip to Colorado. By far and away the most intriguing part of this dish is the grasshoppers. Now I have never eaten grasshoppers, so I was unsure how they would taste. Aside from a crunch, the lime flavoring covered any earthy taste that may accompany the insects and actually complimented the guacamole quite well. It’s worth noting that the chips and salsa are refillable, which is perfect for pairing with one of their signature mezcal drinks.
Entree: Oaxacan Mole Chicken
Crispy half chicken, Oaxacan red mole, plantain rice, warm corn tortillas ($27.)
For dinner, I ordered both featured entrees from the Oaxaca menu. First up was the Oaxacan Mole Chicken. Tremendous dish! The chicken was tasty and I loved the flavorful red mole sauce. It made for nice tacos when mixed together inside the tortillas. The serving size was extraordinary, and the chicken sat on a healthy serving of plantain rice. Would definitely come back for this on future visits.
ENTREE: Roasted Bone-In Beef Shortrib, Mole de Cacahuate
12-hour slow-roasted bone-in shortrib, roasted peanut mole, Cotija mashed potatoes, sauteed Swiss chard, crispy onions, toasted peanuts ($42.)
The shortrib was fork-tender, falling right off the bone. I usually do not eat mashed potatoes – or bread for that matter – but I enjoyed the pairing with the shortrib. Like the chicken dish, the mole sauce was excellent, flavorful but not too spicy, and I enjoyed the toasted peanuts added to the dish. Our bartender Kyle mentioned that the flour tortillas left over from our Oaxaca Mole Chicken would make for good Shortrib tacos. An excellent suggestion for someone such as myself whom doesn’t eat mashed potatoes.
Banhez mezcal, Ancho Reyes liquor, orange juice, chocolate bitters ($15.)
Smoky, strong flavored drinks are my preferred taste, which is personified in the Mezcalita. Paired with orange juice and Ancho Reyes liquor, the smokiness is accompanied by the spice of the Ancho Reyes. If the traditional margarita is more your style, why not go for the signature La Cava Avocado, which originated in our favorite in-park bar, EPCOT’s La Cava del Tequila.
Here is a sample size of the La Cava Avocado margarita.
DRINK: Oaxaca Daiquiri
Paranubes Oaxacan rum, banana, guanabana liquor, agave nectar, served frozen with brown sugar-chia rim ($15.)
Normally I would avoid frozen drinks, as they are not in my flavor profile. For those of you whom do enjoy frozen cocktails, this daiquiri has a decent banana flavor, topped off with a plantain chip.
Crispy flour tortillas, cajeta-caramel mousse, red wine drizzle with raw sugar & Mexican cinnamon, dark chocolate shavings, mezcal-infused cranberries, roasted almonds ($9.)
If you’ve read The Saturday Six, you know just how important desserts are to every meal. Our bartenders Jahn and Kyle mentioned that this was everyone’s favorite dessert at the bar, as it contains caramel mousse with a Malbec reduction sauce. Pairing that with the mezcal-infused cranberries and roasted almonds, there are a plethora of flavors in every bite.
Drink: Mexican Chocolate Martini
Montelobos mezcal, chocolate liqueur, Avion espresso tequila liqueur ($16.)
A perfect dessert martini, the smoky mezcal flavor paired well with the espresso flavor of the Avion tequila. I will try anything coffee flavored, and this more than performed. It was the perfect complement to the Bunuelitos.
Additionally, Frontera Cocina will be having a Dia de los Muertos Celebration from November 1-4 featuring a $5 Day of the Dead Margarita and $5 Modelo Especial Drafts. Both are excellent deals as the margaritas are some of our favorite in Orlando, and you could be adventurous by trying out the new Guacamole with Chile-Lime Chapulines featuring the guajillo lime toasted grasshoppers! As noted American philosopher Shia LaBeouf would say, “Just do it!!!!”
NOTE: Frontera Cocina has a happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 2-6 p.m., where the menu includes $5 Frontera Margarita, $5 Draft Beers, and Half-Priced Appetizers
Acknowledgements -We wish to thank bartenders Kyle, Jhan, and manager JR for their hospitality and information during our visit. As in previous visits to Frontera Cocina, one of the things I enjoy most about the dining experience is the passion everyone at the restaurant seems to have. Each item, whether food or a drink, can come with story if you’re willing to listen. Menus such as the Oaxacan one have so much history built into them that its great to listen to a server or bartender explain how a particular item was a part of their family traditions.
On a personal level, I would like to thank my brother Derek, Len, and Laurel for inviting me along to enjoy this new menu. Grasshoppers and tequila sure beats the old college dining hall any day! Be sure to check out Derek’s weekly blog, The SATURDAY SIX, where we explore the top six things all around the theme park world.