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A Top Chef Master’s Low End Venture

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I’m excited for the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters. There’s no word on who will be competing yet, but I had a blast rooting for Hubert Keller and Rick Bayless last time around.

Trips to Keller’s Burger Bar and Fleur de Lys will have to wait (though they’re on my list of restaurants to try), but Rick Bayless doesn’t have much of a presence around these parts.

He does, however, have a gourmet takeout joint in the cellar of Macy’s Union Square in SF called Frontera Fresco. His obsession with Mexican food and culture, along with his attention to detail told me that the place couldn’t be THAT bad. The man has a reputation to uphold. So my hubby and I gave it a try after a day of post-holiday retail returns.

We went for the Chipotle Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad with goat cheese, shredded chicken, and roasted zucchini and peppers. We also had the Pulled Pork Tacos and a Pulled Pork Torta, grilled panini style. (Can you tell pork is the new black around culinary circles? Not that I’m complaining.)

Everything was delicious. The flavors were surprisingly fresh for a takeout place. This stuff was better than most salads or sandwiches you’d get at a sitdown cafe. The pork was stewed and flavored nicely. It wasn’t bland or dry or too greasy either. It actually tasted like it had been cooked for a long time with a lot of care. Pretty impressive for this type of place.

And my husband LOVED his salad. There were no brown lettuce leaves or wilted arugula here. Every piece was fresh, crisp, and bright. The chicken and roasted zucchini gave great flavor and texture contrast to the crisp romaine.

The best part is that this place doesn’t skimp on portions or overcharge just because a celebrity chef’s name is attached to it. Now, of course, it’s not one of his famous restaurants in Chicago, but you could DEFINITELY do worse if you’re looking for a quick, easy, affordable takeout option.

Bayless’ attention to detail and respect for Mexican food really comes through. And fortunately, his reputation has not been compromised.

Frontera Fresco on Urbanspoon


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