The shtick: All of the best things about brunch get taken on a lively, loud road trip south of the border.
The vibe: As one of the city’s rare Saturday-only brunches, Rick Bayless’s Mexican stalwart has quite the following—as in, there’s a line halfway down the block before the spot even opens, a mix of curious tourists, sleepy-eyed couples, and adult children entertaining their visiting parents. (Don’t worry! No matter how daunting the line looks, you’ll likely get seated as soon as you make it to the host stand.) Inside, the colors are bright and the chatter’s loud, a celebratory mood for starting off the day. 9 out of 10
The food: Are you over it when it comes to your standard-issue scrambles and Benedicts? Frontera’s a great option for switching things up. Huevos rancheros ($11) come with sunny-side up eggs swimming in a pool of juicy tomato sauce, all of which can be mopped up with a pile of supple housemade tortillas. Instead of a stack of basic buttermilks, the just-slightly-sweet Frontera Hot Cakes ($13/$5 for a side order) are made with corn from Three Sisters Garden and get topped with spiced, whipped goat cheese. Even the pastry basket ($8)–starring a lighter-than-air, streusel-topped concha—makes a serious statement.
The standout on the menu, the Bajío-style eggs ($13), doesn’t quite have an everyday analog. But when we’re talking about a dish of two poached eggs nestled in crisp masa, coated in a cilantro-heavy chile poblano sauce, and decked out with housemade chorizo, who needs the classics? 9 out of 10
The drinks: You already know and love the margaritas here ($12), and of course they’re just as perfect at brunch (who wouldn’t want to start a Saturday with a pleasant tequila buzz?) The house coffee ($2.50) is a special blend from Intelligentsia, and it’s perfectly balanced. 8 out of 10
The service: Our server and bussers were models of efficiency. But once our orders went in, the team seemed to mysteriously vanish, leaving empty coffee cups and iced-tea glasses for 15, 20 minutes at a time. Not the best move when caffeine headaches are creeping in. 6.5 out of 10
Overall: It’s a classic for a reason. 8 out of 10