Rick Bayless' Frontera Cocina Is Dinsey Springs' Home For Authentic Mexican Flavors

Frontera Cocina at Disney Springs is the brain child of eight-time winner of the James Beard Award, Chef Rick Bayless. Rick's food is known for authentic Mexican flavors, in fact his work is considered so important to sharing the Mexican culture he's even received the highest decoration the country can bestow on foreigners, the of Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. I've been a fan of Chef Bayless for a long time, so when I heard that he was bringing a Frontera concept to Disney, there was no question that I would be eating there.

On a recent trip my son and I stopped in for lunch to get our first taste of some world class Mexican cuisine.

Frontera Cocina by Rick BaylessFrontera Cocina by Rick Bayless

The restaurant sits at the edge of Town Center along the clear blue Springs. Lunch at Frontera Cocina was the last stop on our vacation itinerary, which sadly meant we had a finite amount of time to eat. However - we had carved out about two hours for our seating time before we needed to head back and catch our Magical Express.

It was a bright and sunny afternoon when we walked into the restaurant. Light streamed through the ample windows and bounced off the brightly painted walls and simple glass chandeliers. The overall feeling was luminous and airy, with modern lines and just a few pops of interesting cultural decor pieces. While the main seating is indoors; out back a waterfront patio has comfortable tables with shady green umbrellas and cafe lights strung overhead for a little night time atmosphere.

Frontera Cocina Dining Room ChandelierFrontera Cocina Dining Room Chandelier
Frontera Cocina BarFrontera Cocina Bar
Behind The Bar Seating Offers A Great ViewBehind The Bar Seating Offers A Great View
The Plate Wall Adds A Fun Pop of ColorThe Plate Wall Adds A Fun Pop of Color

Since we were using the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan on this trip, we were able to each order and appetizer, entree, and dessert for one table service credit. The menu at Frontera Cocina offers a great array of foods and after more than enough time perusing them, we ordered our appetizers in hopes that it would quell the growing rumbles in our tummies.

The appetizers came out fairly quickly, I had the amazing Chipotle Chicken Tostadas. It only took one bite for me to be sold on these little gems of crispy chipotle chicken tortillas, topped with roasted tomatillo avocado salsa, crema, and Cotija cheese. By far these were my favorite dish of the meal, which is saying a lot when you consider dessert.

My son ordered the Queso Fundido, served with warm corn tortillas. The fundido is melty Chihuahua cheese combined with roasted poblano peppers and caramelized onions. In addition, you can add Gunthrop Farms Chorizo if you want to spice it up a bit. It's a solid dip, and cheese fans can't go wrong with it.

Chipotle Chicken Tostada and Queso FundidoChipotle Chicken Tostada and Queso Fundido
Delicious Chipotle Chicken TostadaDelicious Chipotle Chicken Tostada
Queso Fundido Comes With Warm Corn TortillasQueso Fundido Comes With Warm Corn Tortillas

We finished up the appetizers, and looked forward to our entrees. We had ordered our entire dinner at the same time, but things seemed to be moving fairly slowly when it came to the entrees. After what seemed like forever, the waitress came and told me that they couldn't complete my order due to a problem in the kitchen, and asked if I would like something different. I looked at a menu and picked another dish. She brought out the food for my son, and friends that had joined us at the table. Then the manager came over to talk to me, trying to explain what was going on with a mechanical failure in the kitchen. Over all three different people came out to give me three different stories, and in the end, I was given what I had ordered in the first place. I was glad that they tried to keep on top of things, but the handling of the situation was chaotic and not very reassuring.

My son had the Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas with freshly made corn tortillas, chipotle chicken filling, guajillo chile sauce, Queso Chihuahua, crispy onions, black beans. It looked delicious, and smelled even better with rich sauce and melty cheese. He said it was "OK," but that "it's no better than what you make at home." The joke was on him - I use Chef Bayless' Frontera products in my kitchen at home. I think he was feeling guilty about eating before I had gotten my food.

Red Chile Chicken EnchiladasRed Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Eventually my Carne Asada arrived at the table, however by then everyone else was almost finished, and I was constantly checking the clock because we only had about 20 minutes before we had to leave or we would miss our Magical Express.

The flavors of the Carne Asada were spot on, I was just too stressed by that point to really enjoy it. The Creekstone Natural Black Angus steak, had been marinated in garlic and red chile. It was accompanied with black beans refritos with queso fresco, which were only ok; and caramelized plantains with crema and Cotija cheese, that I didn't really enjoy. I had also ordered the Queso Anejo Mashed Potatoes, because I had heard from several sources that they were amazing. I was a bit disappointed in those, they were good - real mashed potatoes, but not the religious experience I had heard they were.

Carne Asada And Queso Anejo Mashed PotatoesCarne Asada And Queso Anejo Mashed Potatoes

I seriously debated not having dessert because we were running so short of time at that point (and we had been there almost 2 hours) but I had been excited to try the Pecan Pie Bar, and it did not disappoint. In fact I wrote a whole post about how much I loved it previously. A tall swirl of Mexican vanilla ice cream top a rich, dense, pecan pie dessert square. Chocolate sauce, crumbled pecans, and sprinkle of cinnamon finish it off to perfection.

We practically inhaled the dessert while our waitress finished up our bill so we could get going. It was worth every quick bite.

Frontera Cocina Pecan Pie BarFrontera Cocina Pecan Pie Bar

Overall the food at Frontera Cocina was solid, but the experience left a lot to be desired for us. The speed of service was slow from the start, then the kitchen had a mechanical failure that caused the grill to shut down, and the front of house responded to it with utter confusion; as much as I wanted to love it, it just wasn't my best Disney meal. I will say that the Frontera Cocina management did try to make things right, and offer compensation, but because we were using the Disney Dining Plan and about to head home there wasn't much they could do.

Everyone gets to have a bad day now and again though! So - I will be giving them another chance on a future trip.

If you would like more information on Frontera Cocina, head on over to our friends at the Disney Food Blog to see how their first experience went. Have you eaten at Frontera Cocina? I would love to hear what you thought in the comments below.

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