Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) is infamous for delays and travel mishaps, and as one of the nation’s major connection hubs there’s a good chance you’ll eventually find yourself stuck there if you travel regularly (especially if you fly United or American). You’re tired and frustrated, the batteries on all your devices are about to die due to the lack of available power outlets, and on top of all that now your stomach is starting to growl!
What do you do?
Walk right past the 4-story Brachiosaurus skeleton and make your way over to Tortas Frontera, that’s what!
If you’re wondering where the name comes from, Frontera Grill is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago, owned and run by celebrity chef Rick Bayless. “Tortas” are pressed Mexican sandwiches, served hot (like a panini). Tortas + Frontera = Tortas Frontera (and they make a mean torta!)
My personal favorite is the Pepito - beer-braised beef short ribs, pickled jalapeños, Chihuahua cheese, black beans, cilantro crema, and arugula. It’s outrageously good! All the tortas are made to order, so be prepared to wait 10 minutes (or more if there’s a line – and there usually is). It’s absolutely worth it though.
I also really like the Cubana, which is made with smoked pork loin, Nueske’s bacon, black beans, Chihuahua cheese, cilantro crema, chipotle mustard, and avocado.
One last point I should make: In addition to being a bit of a wait, these sandwiches aren’t cheap either. Expect your meal to cost about twice what it would at the McDonald’s next door (the tortas are $9-$12 each). They are truly fantastic though, and well worth the extra cost.