Frontera Cocina is one of our favorite restaurants to visit in Disney Springs due to their flavorful foods and wide variety of tequila-based drinks. Last year, we took a trip to Frontera as they debuted a new menu with pumpkin and grasshopper (yes, grasshopper) flavors for the Fall season. Recently, we were invited to join Chef Rick Bayless as Frontera debuted the new Taste of Baja menu for the Summer season.
Upon being seated, the hostess will provide the standard menu for Frontera Cocina along with the leaflet explaining the limited-time Baja specials. Note that for this review, we only sampled items from the new menu. Reviews of the regular menu at Frontera from TouringPlans’ resident foodie Tessa Koten can be found by clicking here.
Baja is one of the most exciting places on earth. Sure, Cabo is fun, but Northern Baja is delicious beyond belief. Some of the most wonderful seafood dishes in the world come from Ensenada. Mexico’s world class wines come from the Valle de Guadalupe. The hottest chefs in the country have settled there to help forge a new regional cuisine, a contemporary Mexican cuisine that’s both rustic and perfectly in step with what we all love to eat.
Growing up by the sea, I am very particular when it comes to seafood preparation due to a fondness for certain types of calamari and oysters. Of note, this was one of the best calamari dishes I have ever eaten. The lime and chile flavors in the breading provided a spicy bite, which was complemented by the cheese. Many restaurants fail at crispy calamari with an overabundance of breading. The calamari here is lightly breaded, yet still provides a nice crunch. Both of us were in agreement that the calamari dish was the surprise hit of the evening.
As someone who would consider himself as a salad aficionado, the Esquites Ensalada was a nice surprise as well. Pairing char-grilled corn with salad can provide an extra vegetable but also accompany the flavor of the spicy Cotija cheeses and poblano rajas. The best part? The spicy Cotija cheese is placed on top of the salad AND also mixed into the dressing. Keto friends rejoice, there is plenty of cheese to go around. I would not order this as an entrée, but it is quite filling and could serve two to three individuals at a table for a first course.
For the entrees, we tried both the Grilled Florida Pink Shrimp and Carne Asada & Mojo-Grilled Florida Shrimp. The Grilled Florida Pink Shrimp dish packs a wallop, as the red chile salsa provided a dry heat that lingered on the tongue after the first bite. It was spicy but not unbearable to the point that it detracts from the meal. The Carne Asada was superb, paired with the Cotija cheese as a topping. We were provided tortillas as part of the meal, so naturally I created tacos with the carne asada and grilled shrimp. Black Beans Refritos and caramelized plantains accompany the meal, which provide a nice sweet and savory taste to balance the spice from the salsa and shrimp.
For theme park fans, desserts are a must-do attraction when visiting the theme parks and resorts. One of Disney’s most iconic desserts is the beloved Dole Whip featured in Adventureland. Frontera’s take on this dessert comes in the form of the Passion Fruit Sorbet, which features a tropical fruit puree topped with pineapple. While I have enjoyed many Dole Whips, I believe this has a better taste profile and composition than the Dole Whip we know and love–a great and satisfying after-dinner accompaniment.
Possibly the most interesting part of the meal came in the form of a Raspberry-Habanero Cake. In profile, the cake and frosting are a light, sweet taste that is followed by a bite of candied habanero lime. I have never eaten anything with such a unique profile that is sweet yet produces a nice bite at the end.
I normally prefer to end my dinner with a cup of coffee, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try Frontera’s espresso.
Let’s face it, many of you are probably here for the drinks. We did take a few sips from the three new drink offerings at the Disney Springs location. La Baja Clasica was our favorite taste with the El Mayor tequila and sherry wine. Similar to other Frontera drinks, this had a nice smoky flavor that was complemented by the tortilla ash salt. One of the ambassadors for Frontera explained how her abuela (grandmother) would burn a tortilla or two while cooking, which turned out to be the best tasting tortillas. In this drink, burnt tortillas are ground up to create the tortillas ash salt that provides a unique flavor to accompany this special offering.
Ni Maiz is a special cocktail that features Mezcal tequila and a baby corn floating within the drink. On the milder side, this drink is notable for its spicy worm salt rim that provides a nice kick to the smoky mezcal. The wildest item we tried was the Vuelve A La Vida, featuring Pacifico beer, tequila, and a spicy bloody mary type mix topped with candied bacon. This was a strong drink with many interesting flavors, yet I was mostly excited for the avocado and candied bacon toppers!
We are blessed with a lot of great offerings in the new and improved Disney Springs. With places like Morimoto Asia, The BOATHOUSE, and Art Smith’s Homecomin’, there is great food just about everywhere you look. While Frontera Cocina doesn’t get nearly as much attention as some of the other restaurants in Disney Springs, it definitely shouldn’t go under your radar. With a solid “every day” menu, consistent seasonal additions, and top-notch service from a passionate team, Frontera Cocina always delivers on an exceptional dining experience.
Have you been to Frontera Cocina? Does the new summer menu sound intriguing? Let us know in the comments.