It is not always easy to find anything decent to eat at Chicago O’Hare airport, especially if you are flying from one of the smaller airlines on one of those tiny bare concourses that are bereft of any reasonable dining options. I was fearing the worst when I was flying back with British Airways and I found myself heading towards Terminal 5. This time though I was to be pleasantly surprised as they were renovating the terminal and one of the bright new features was a ‘Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless’ concession. I have had one of the Tortas at one of his other O Hare outlet before in Terminal 3 and it was one of the better offerings available, so I was really feeling quite hopeful.
Just for once we found ourselves with a bit of time to kill so I was able to have a proper meal and not just a sandwich. I started to peruse the larger plate sections of the menu and my eyes alighted upon the Cazuelas described on the tagline as ‘slow-simmered Mexican casseroles served with grilled artisan bread’. Fair enough I am happy to give that a whirl.
I had the Chipotle Pork Tinga which was an inspired selection (even if I do say so myself). It was basically pork belly, chorizo and roasted potaoes in a thick smoky stew full of tomatoes and caramelized onions. It was quite a hearty meal and probably the best thing I have found at the airport for a while. It was topped with crumbled cheese and some neat slices of avocado. It also apparently had chipotle en adabo and some cilantro (coriander) too. It wasn’t that spicy, it was just about right for me, I wasn’t really looking for heartburn while sitting on the plane so I had kind of played it a little safe. I like the bread which was really needed to mop up the sauce. I could have probably done with a little more for my $12.39, but I had no real complaints apart from more bread, and even that is just me being mildly gluttonous. I found a recipe for this dish by Rick Bayless in the Food and Wine magazine (Read more here) and it tickled my fancy so much that I might try and make this myself.
My companion had the Creamy Green Chile Chicken which was Roasted chicken, mixed with poblano rajas, roasted zucchini and spinach in a tomatillo sauce. I didn’t know what ‘poblano rajas’ was or were, but apparently this is Rick Bayless’s ‘combination of roasted poblano chile strips and sautéed onion flavored with garlic and herbs’. There is a recipe for them on his website in the Salsa and Condiments section (Check it out here). The whole bowl was covered in a scattered pile of arugula (rocket) leaves. The server warned us in advance that the dish was quite spicy and it was, he was not exaggerating. To ease the dining experience he brought us extra sour cream which really did help. This was another good dish and was well worth the $11.99.
The good thing about finding Tortas Frontera in Terminal 5 by Gate M12 was that at least now I know there is something decent to look forwards to foodwise next time I choose to fly out from that terminal. This is one of three Tortas concessions at O’Hare International Airport, the others being located at Terminal : Gate B11, and Terminal : Gate K4.