Airport Eats: Tortas Frontera

Let’s face it, airport food sucks! Offerings can be limited and the food is expensive, bland, and disappointing. Well, the food at Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless at O’Hare Airport has changed my mind. This Mexican spot serves hand-crafted tortas (griddle-baked Mexican sandwiches), molletes (open-faced sandwiches), soups, salads, fresh-made guacamole, and hand-shaken margaritas. There’s hope after all!

Pre-Flight Meal at Tortas Frontera

Chef Bayless managed to create a menu that explores the amazing flavors of Mexico and set a new standard for quick-service food. They use top quality local suppliers for all their meats, dairy, organic produce, artisan breads, and beverages. They even list where it all comes from.


After checking my bag and getting through security, I walked right on over to the counter located near Gate B11, Terminal 1. I stepped in line which wasn’t too long. Turns out, those people were waiting for their food and I was able to go straight to the counter to place my order.

Agua Frescas

It all sounded so good. I decided to order the Milanesa torta ($12) and a lime agua fresca ($3.50). I was given my receipt and waited for my number to be called.

Tortas and Molletes Bread

The tortas are made to order and can be filled with a variety of ingredients. I opted to stick with the sandwich as is.

Made To Order

I actually still had a couple hours before boarding my flight, even after going through the fairly long TSA pre-check line. I heard the regular security line was taking up to an hour and a half! There are a few tables inside so I kept an eye out for one to become available. You can sit at the table and place your order with the server as well.


I was able to get a seat after a bit. After about 15 minutes, my number was called. I grabbed the take-out box, my drink, and took a seat.

Take-Out Box

I opened the box and the torta looked great – better than any other airport meal I’ve had lately! The Milanesa is made with crispy chicken, artisan Jack cheese, pickled jalapeños, black beans, and cilantro crema. It came with a tomatillo-avocado salsa.


The chicken was crispy and the crusty bread was warm and soft. There were a lot of great flavors going on. It had quite the kick too! If you don’t like spicy, you may want to leave the pickled jalapenos out. The sandwich was very tasty. Yum!

So Good!

So if you’re looking for a good pre-flight meal or something tasty to eat on the way to your destination, head on over to Tortas Frontera. I can see why this place has been named one of the top airport restaurants in America. When I arrived at my gate, it turned out that my flight was delayed for another couple of hours. I seriously contemplated grabbing a margarita and trying another torta for the flight! Next time…


Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless
O’Hare Airport
Chicago, IL 60666
(773) 686-6180

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