*This dining experience took place in June 2016.
Frontera Cocina is the newest restaurant to open in Disney Springs. A table service location from renowned chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Cocina offers guests at Disney Springs a taste of Mexico with authentic gourmet dishes.
As a former Midwesterner, I grew up about 2 hours from Rick Bayless’s restaurants (including Xoco, Frontera Grill, and Toplobampo) in Chicago and have enjoyed them in the past, so I was very excited about this restaurant opening. Although I love some of the Mexican restaurants in Epcot, like La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn, I love how authentic all of Rick Bayless’s restaurants are for Mexican food, so I knew we’d be in for a real treat.
I was lucky enough to go to Frontera Cocina on the second day of their opening with Alexis from Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures (you can read her full review of Frontera Cocina on her blog) and our friend Ron. We were all really excited about the options and couldn’t wait to check it out.
I knew that Frontera Cocina would be pretty gluten free friendly, but I was surprised to see that almost the entire menu was gluten free and most of it could be easily made dairy free too. Even better, the entire menu notes allergens next to each dish, which was really helpful.
The restaurant itself is really clean and modern. We loved the vibrant colors and cheery atmosphere.
While deciding what to order, Ron and I got drinks. We couldn’t pass up the cucumber gin & tonics which sounded delicious and refreshing. And, suffice it to say, they didn’t disappoint. This was an amazingly refreshing drink for the summertime and one I’d definitely get again. Of course, I may have to try a margarita or two on my next visit. We grabbed margaritas from the Frontera Cocina To-Go counter the day before, and they were fantastic.
For an appetizer, Ron and I split the bacon guacamole. We had tried the regular guacamole the day before but knew bacon was definitely the one to try next. Because everything is better with bacon. Our server said it was a bit spicy, but no one at the table thought it was spicy at all.
The bacon flavor in this guacamole was mild but delicious. The pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) added a nice crunch. The quality of this guacamole was outstanding and so fresh, with big chunks of avocado throughout. To add to this, the chips were thick, crispy, and delicious. We were all very excited that the chips were gluten free and celiac safe.
Along with the guacamole, our server brought two kinds of salsa to our table. I wasn’t a big fan of the chipotle salsa, which was a bit spicier and smoky, but really loved the salsa verde which the perfect combo of sweet and spicy for me.
Alexis and her daughters ordered the queso fundido which was served with fresh soft corn tortillas. It looked amazing and completely decadent. Though I’ve been reintroducing a bit of dairy back into my diet, this seemed like way too much dairy for me, so I didn’t try this. Alexis and her daughters absolutely loved it though, making it a great gluten free choice.
For my entree, I ordered the pork carnitas served with refried beans, guacamole, salsa verde, pickled onions, and fresh soft corn tortillas. I really enjoyed this dish a lot. The pork was super crispy and tender. There was very little fat to this dish, unlike the version of carnitas I got at La Hacienda de San Angel.
The refried beans were delicious, though those who are vegetarian or vegan should note that the beans do contain pork in them. My dish was marked as containing dairy, but was easily made dairy free by removing the cheese.
Ron ordered plantains and shared them with our table. These were gluten free and made dairy free by removing the cheese and sauces. We all loved them, and Alexis even enjoyed them as an accompaniment to her steak tacos. These were delicious, and I would order as a side without any hesitation.
Ron ordered the Shrimp Mojo de Ajo, and after our table each took bites of this, we agreed it was the hands down best dish at the table. Though it had a creamy texture, this dish was made gluten free and dairy free upon request. The plantain rice was outstanding, but the shrimp and the sauce made this an incredible dish. I think this may be the dish I order on my next visit!
Alexis ordered the carne asada steak tacos. These looked good and would make for a great lunch, though I think with all of the other amazing options on the menu, I would choose other options first. Alexis and her daughters seemed to enjoy both the chicken and steak tacos, both of which were gluten free and easily made dairy free by removing the cheese.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first visit to Frontera Cocina. The amount of gluten free and easily made dairy free items on the menu give me tons of options on any visit that I make. On top of the fact that I adore good Mexican food, this will easily be my new go-to spot at Disney Springs. Even better, I can get my on the go Mexican fix by visiting their To-Go counter which also has gluten free options.
I’m looking forward to visiting again and trying other dishes on the menu.
What dishes do you want to try at Frontera Cocina?