Rick Bayless recently posted on Instagram about Frontera Grill reaching its 37th anniversary (on March 21, to be precise). What’s so special about that number, you ask? Well, he explained its significance in the interview I did with the Baylesses when Frontera hit its 30th anniversary:

RICK:  I just fell in love with Chicago and said, this is the place where I want to be, because I really loved the fact that we were in the midwest. We’d been living half time in L.A.—and L.A. is super trendy. And so after about three or four years, you kind of had to close your restaurant up and reconcept it. And I didn’t really want to do that.

Remember, I grew up in a restaurant that was open for 37 years. That taught me that longevity’s a good thing. I loved the fact that in Chicago, if you offered good value, and you kind of kept up with the times, but were not super trendy—you could actually have a really long run here.

Which is why we’re talking here now! I’ve got seven years to go before I beat my parents’ record.

And now he’s equaled it. As he said on Instagram:

It’s hard to find words to describe how I feel reaching the same milestone as my folks, who ran Hickory House Barbecue, our family restaurant, in Oklahoma City for 37 years. Just like them, we’ve seen momentous changes over the years. No matter those twists and turns, my passion for serving Chicago the deeply rooted cuisine of México has never wavered.

To mark the day of Frontera’s 37th anniversary, they’ll be putting on a dinner benefiting the Frontera Farmer Foundation (another story I will tell in detail in the book). They will cook up things that were served at Frontera 37 years ago and have rarely been seen since. Go here to look at the ticket choices for that dinner, and speaking of special events at Frontera and Topolobampo, just two days before that one, they’ll a host a 10th anniversary dinner for the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, benefiting the American History Museum’s Smithsonian Food History Project; go here to find out more about that event.


Friend of Fooditor Lisa Shames profiles Rodolfo Cuadros, who’s now up to five restaurants (beginning with Amaru in Wicker Park), not exclusively plant-based, but strongly so nonetheless:

Born in New York, he spent most of his childhood in Colombia before returning to the United States in his teens. He first worked as a dishwasher, but as his English improved, so did his status in the kitchen. And when he began working for Miami chef Douglas Rodriguez (a.k.a. the Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine), Cuadros found his calling. “For the first time, I could see myself in what I was cooking,” he says. “It was validation that my culture mattered.”


Given the number of meals that typically go into a Grimod review at Understanding Hospitality, I’m surprised he got so quickly to Bon Yeon, the Korean beef tasting menu from Sangtae Park, the chef-owner of Omakase Yume. Some have had doubts about whether the beef on offer is interesting enough to justify the concept; Grimod’s take:

Ostensibly, you would expect meat sourcing to be the primary concern for a concept of this type. Thus, witnessing the restaurant’s choice of purveyors change from month to month might signal that the right partnerships were not formed from the start. To be fair, the Parks disclosed they could not (nor can anyone else) get a hold of the Hanwoo beef on which the Korean examples of this genre are based. So, some evolution in the products they are using is to be applauded: it demonstrates the chefs are learning, growing, and getting a sense of what—out of the ingredients that are attainable—works best. Just the same, you must ask if the beef being served at every point in this process is really worthy of a $255 ticket price (for why must paying customers act as guinea pigs?). Admittedly, you have found the results to be rather consistent across each of your meals.


Titus Ruscitti visits the Treasure Coast, north of Palm Beach, and makes it all sound like the best restaurant I ate at in Jupiter on a Palm Beach trip last year—the blue collar fish house Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill, which was recommended by… Titus:

When you leave Palm Beach County going north you enter the Treasure Coast which consists of Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. Popular towns include Port St. Lucie (the largest), Fort Pierce, Hutchinson Island, Jensen Beach, Stuart and Vero Beach. I got as far north as Fort Pierce on my two visits, both of which really surprised me. I loved the laid back lifestyle and all the colorful buildings that feel like Old Florida. It’s way underdeveloped compared to it’s neighbor to the south. The area is home to over 96,000 acres of parks and conservation land as well as the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystem in the nation. It’s an outdoor paradise that extends beyond the beautiful beaches giving way to world class biking and kayaking backdrops. Each of the towns has a bit of a different feel to them. I really took a liking to Jensen Beach which is a colorful little community with character. I could totally see myself spending more time around here whether that’s visiting the area or living there. Color me impressed.


Steve Dolinsky ventures to the southwest suburbs to check out the South Asian food happening out that way, like Chai Ho Jai, The Tea Room, in Naperville:

Steaming pots of chai can be sipped – or paired with the vegetarian-friendly snacks at Chai Ho Jai – The Tea Room – in Naperville. Paninis and parathas are homemade, but try one of their dozen or so hot tea options, many perfumed with hints of cardamom.

He also visits Naansense in Naperville (you may have visited the one downtown), Indian Harvest also in Naperville, and A2B in Warrenville.


At Chicago mag, Titus Ruscitti looks at a place aiming to join Jollibee as a national Filipino chain, Mano Modern Cafe:

You can swing by this all-day café and coffee shop, which opened in November, for lattes made with ube or pandan, or settle in for easygoing Filipino comfort food (this is also a fine place to work on your laptop). Breakfast bowls come loaded with garlic rice, a fried egg, and your choice of longanisa, tocino, or Spam. They’re good, but it’s the other use of Filipino meats you should try first: Pan de Sliders, breakfast sandwiches served on pan de sal, rolls with a pillowy texture and light golden crust.


Last week I couldn’t find any new reviews at The Infatuation, but four dropped on the first of the month: Kyuramen, Watershed, Broken Shaker and venerable Svea.


Building on Michael Nagrant’s attack last week on an editor (of a publication that publishes listicles, but not many reviews of late) and the PR person he’s in a relationship with, he goes after this food media couple again for going to one of those party boats in Lake Michigan, and running a piece about it:

Like I concluded in [his earlier] piece:

“It feels like Jeffy and Victoria and food influencers will do anything for business, a free meal, and your attention.”

Turns out I was not wrong.  About a day ago, this piece popped up on Time Out Chicago’s IG feed promoting what a lot of Chicagoan’s have been referring to as the sex boat.

There’s more, and some of it is quite funny, but there are two things to note: 1) anyone who goes on a sex party boat has made their choices in life regardless of PR or publications, and 2) it’s not her client, so no unsafe PR has been committed here.

But I wanted to be fair and find an objective opinion on Nagrant’s case. And Google had just launched Gemini AI, so I asked it:

Q: Which is worse, publications taking free meals from restaurants, or Hitler?

A: It is not possible to say definitively which is worse, Hitler or free meals for publications. Hitler’s murderous regime was unquestionably bad. At the same time, both Hitler and getting free meals from a restaurant have had a significant impact on society, but in different ways. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to make their own judgement.

Well, there’s your answer. Personally, I think Hitler is worse, even if he was a black woman.


Friend of Fooditor Maggie Hennessy devoted her Substack to explaining life as a freelancer in 2024:

I want to take you through what my process looks like and how I typically get compensated for it. The goal is not simply to reinforce that writing is in trouble (which it is), but to shed some light on what the work actually takes. I am so proud to be a journalist and storyteller at the fluffier, lifestyle end. Writing is a fascinating, enriching job that demands empathy and critical thinking, self-love and self-loathing in equal parts. I love the editors I work with, who are smart, kind and fearless—and often given insufficient time and funds themselves to churn out great work. Knowing this, I’m discouraged by how easy people find it to personally attack the character of writers and editors with so much confidence and so little viable information—in my case, degrees in journalism and professional cookery, plus 15 years of experience. (Yes, I’ve been trolled before; it’s as unnerving as it is laughably pathetic.)

I hope that by reading this, you’ll appreciate the singular creatures who undertake this profession in a landscape that’s increasingly hostile to them.

I’ve already sent it to one kid hoping to break into this business—to scare them off, of course!


Chef Michael Lachowicz’s George Trois in Winnetka has been perhaps the purest classical French food in the Chicago area, but more than that it’s one of the places that was a direct link to Jean Banchet and the rise of Chicago as a major food city—Lachowicz worked there, and is the one who has maintained the closest ties to the kind of food Le Francais served—most recently, he did a Banchet tribute meal last year.

But as he told me about Le Francais in the 1990s, it was a classic whose time had passed. Just last September it shifted to a “table d’hote” menu format, as in, a shorter prix fixe menu than the Le Francais multicourse gorging yourself format. (Even I, writing up the way people used to eat at Le Francais for my book, can’t imagine people eating like that.) And now he’s announcing that the success of his more casual restaurant in the same building, Aboyer, has led to shutting down George Trois:

The enthusiasm that everyone has shown fore Aboyer… created a good problem for us. Specifically, we need more tables to serve our guests. The bittersweet answer for me to exapnd Aboyer seating into the restaurant George Trois.

George Trois is basically a separate dining room within the building, so it’s a natural expansion.


Sandwich Tribunal tries a simple bar snack sandwich from Köln (Cologne), the Halve Hahn, which is not a half of anything, nor does it have Halvah in it. It sounds like just the sort of thing you make in a bar with what you have handy:

There are a number of origin theories for the name “Halve Hahn”–you can order a similar plate just about anywhere in Germany by simply asking for a Käsebrötchen or Käsesemmel or whatever the local term for a bread roll with cheese is. Halve Hahn, on the other hand, translates directly as “half rooster.” It’s an unusual name for a deconstructed cheese sandwich, and the various apocryphal origin stories for it–mostly placing this origin in the latter half of the 19th Century–sound like this:

• A young man threw a birthday party for himself telling each guest they would get a half rooster to eat, but had the waiter serve them cheese sandwiches instead

• A bridal party wished to order half roosters for their wedding guests but were short on funds. When the innkeeper tallied up how much they had, he determined that it was enough for a cheese sandwich for each guest.


En Process talks to Margaret Pak of Thattu.

Buzz List will be off next week and return on March 18.