Frontera Cocina is a table-service restaurant at WDW’s Disney Springs. Located in the Town Center section, the restaurant serves Mexican fare in a modern setting. Frontera Cocina does accept Tables in Wonderland and also offers an Annual Pass discount. The restaurant does take part in the Disney Dining Plan as a table-service credit and is a decent use of the dining plan. This review will include photos of the restaurant, as well as thoughts on Frontera Cocina’s cuisine, atmosphere and value.
Walt Disney World’s dining scene has dramatically improved over the last few years, specifically at Disney Springs. Between Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs, almost all types of cuisine are offered at Disney World. Not only that but most of the cuisines offered are at least somewhat authentic and taste good. The one glaring hole has been Mexican food at Disney World.
I should say that I love Mexican food and grew up around authentic Mexican food, especially relative to other cuisines. With respect to San Angel Inn and La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot, both Mexican restaurants are solid but not exactly authentic cuisine, Disney World lacked a place to get really good Mexican food. Frontera Cocina fills that void pretty well.
The restaurant is headed by celebrity chef Rick Bayless which has been a fairly common theme at Disney Springs recently. Between Rick Bayless, Art Smith, and Morimoto (among others), part of Disney Springs dining renaissance has been thanks to celebrity chefs. I can’t say I’m well versed in what chefs have more pull than others but I do think this has played at least a small role in the popularity of the restaurants.
Frontera Cocina opts for the modern look that many restaurants in Disney Springs go for. The lines are clean, the design is modern and the colors are bright. While modern, there are some nice nods to Mexican folk art that give the restaurant some character. I really like this mural (in the photo above) that greets guests upon walking into the restaurant.
There’s really nice natural light throughout the restaurant thanks to the large windows. All in all this makes for a warm environment, especially in the front room.
Further into the restaurant, there’s this blue room that we were seated in. It’s kind of moody but there’s still plenty of natural light around. The walls in this area are heavily decorated and very pretty.
In the back of the restaurant is the bar and the most mellow (and yellow) part of the restaurant. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a great place to sit and relax, it’s a very nice bar with a little bit of a view.
Overall, I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Frontera Cocina. If you’re looking for story or theme then this restaurant may not fill your needs but what it does do is balance a modern design with some character. It’s a really nice place to have a meal and among my favorites in Disney Springs from an atmosphere perspective.
Moving on to the food, here’s a look at the menu. We started with chips and guacamole and salsa, along with a margarita. Everything was very good but nothing stood out except for the guacamole which was creamy, full of flavor and delicious.
Moving on to the entrees, most of our large group ordered the Carne Asada. We were on the Disney Dining Plan and this was easily the best value on the plan.
As you can see, it’s a large plate full of food. The Carne Asada was very good with great flavor. The meat was tender and delicious. Garlic and chiles were on top of the steak to add flavor. On the left of the plate are caramelized plantains with cheese and cream on top. They were another highlight of the entree, adding a sweet taste to an otherwise savory meal. The beans were beans, they tasted fine. Overall, it was a very good entree and the best Mexican food I’ve tasted at Walt Disney World.
For dessert, I ordered the Buñuelitos. These are crisp tortillas with caramel mousse in between them and a red wine drizzle (among other things) sprinkled on top. It was really good and one of my favorite desserts of the trip. The mousse was very rich but was offset by the red wine drizzle. This is rich and big enough to share.
Melissa went with the Coconut-Lime Cuatro Leches – a sponge cake soaked with Four Milks and topped with coconut and lime. I enjoyed the dessert but ended up liking mine quite a bit better. While the cake was moist and the flavor pleasing, there wasn’t as much complexity to the dessert and it got a little one-note after a while. I’m saying this as a person who doesn’t like cake all that much.
From a value perspective, Frontera Cocina falls in line with most table-service restaurants. Having said that, there isn’t as much variety here as The Boathouse or Morimoto Asia so it may be harder to find a meal on a budget. Having said that, there are salads around $10 and appetizers around $12. Where the meal starts to get expensive is with the entrees, as all of them are over $20 except the Veggie Tacos. There are options if you want a cheaper meal but I wouldn’t say Frontera Cocina is an exceptional value.
On the other side, the Carne Asada is a very good option if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. After that, the bang for the buck isn’t there as much if you’re on the Dining Plan. In other words, Frontera Cocina isn’t really a great value paying out of pocket and has a limited upside in terms of the dining plan value.
Overall, Frontera Cocina is another solid option added to the Disney Springs dining scene. Having said that, it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the other excellent restaurants in that area. The food was all very good but there was nothing outstanding. Frontera Cocina is better than the standard chain Mexican restaurant but probably won’t be the best Mexican food you’ve ever had. Still, it does fill a void in the Disney World dining scene and hopefully won’t be overlooked with the other excellent restaurants around.
Overall Rating – 8/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews