What a lucky girl I am—I got to eat at Frontera and Topolobampo (and came thiiiiis close to getting my first taste of XOCO) in the same month. Topolobampo for a not-so-friendly-on-the-wallet (but well worth it) bad-economy brunch a few weeks ago, and Frontera was last week for Dave’s mom’s birthday.
Don’t ask about XOCO—it’s too traumatic to recount.
OK, fine, if you’re gonna twist my arm about it …
I went there to grab lunch for Dave and me a few weeks ago. I stood in line. I inhaled the thick scent of carnitas and chorizo. I watched the cooks expertly crafting wood-fired tortas. I furiously photographed the scene.
And then I noticed something. No one was ordering their food to go. I didn’t spot a single brown paper bag behind the counter. At that point I thought it wise to ask if takeout orders were a possibility before standing in line for another 20 minutes.
NO TAKEOUT. For a split second I considered ditching Dave and eating alone at XOCO. Than I decided that my relationship is more important than a Cuban sandwich. Even one from Rick Bayless.
I tweeted Rick to ask what the deal was. He responded right away, because, you know, we’re practically BFF’s.
Anyway, I got my Bayless fix afterall. Twice.
Topolobampo was fantastic:
The Chicharron de Queso, a “rolled crispy cheese wafer (chicarron style) filled with young salad greens (creamy lime-cilantro dressing) and grilled chicken salad (avocado, roasted poblanos, marinated tomatoes and lime)”:
The Mole de Olla, “rich, red chile-and-epazote broth with Gunthorp duck. Corn masa dumplings (chochoyotes), xoconostle (sour prickly pear), green peas, chayote”:
The Pollito con Elote, “pan-seared Gunthrop heritage-breed rock hen and a celebration of Three Sister’s Garden corn: sweet corn tamales, braised wild greens (quelites) with seared corn esquites, creamy jalapeno-corn sauce”:
And my favorite, the Chilaquilles de Guajillo y Frijol Negro, “torta of shiitake-filled chilaquiles (crispy tortillas simmered in red guajillo chile) served with black bean sauce, homemade crema, crispy white onion and cilantro”:
Frontera didn’t disappoint either:
Topolo margaritas and guac all around.
A special glass for the birthday girl.
For the main courses:
Enchiladas de Mole Poblano, “homemade tortillas rolled around Gunthorp free-range chicken, doused with Mexicos most famous mole; black beans”:
Enchiladas de Chivo, “homemde tortillas rolled around Pleasant Meadows braised goat. Red chileajo sauce, crispy onions, dry Jack cheese, cilantro”:
Carne Asada a la Oaxaquena, “Creekstone Natural Black Angus rib steak, marinated in spicy red chile and wood- grilled, served with black beans, sweet plantains with sour cream, and guacamole”:
Poc Chuc de Puerco, “sour orange-marinated, grill-seared Maple Creek pork with Yucatecan garnishes: grill-roasted onions, sliced heirloom tomatoes, tangy Napa cabbage, avocado, habanero salsa, black bean ‘soup'”:
Falda Asada Brava, “spicy serrano-marinated grass fed flank steak (from Bill Kurtis’s Tall Grass) with spicy salsa huevona (hand-crushed, grill-roasted tomatoes, jalapenos). Grilled knob onions and sweet corn tamales (topped with homemade sour cream and fresh cheese)”:
Tamal de Puerco en Mole Verde, “banana leaf-steamed tamal of fresh-ground corn masa and Maple Creek braised pork. Green pumpkinseed mole, arugula salad”:
And a special birthday dessert:
Oro Azul. A delightful sipping tequila. Didn’t know there was such a thing? As a native Arizonan I feel obligated to educate the masses about this.
Oh, and this too:
I told the waiter to tell Rick we were there, but he must have been too busy to come out and personally greet us. But hey, don’t worry about it, it’s cool. I’ll catch you next time. Oh, by the way, I think you forgot to mail my invitation to the Frontera Picnic at your place last week. I’m sure it was a completely innocent oversight …