If you are familiar at all with Mexican art, then you might guess that Frida’s is inspired by the art and love story of Frida Kahlo. A quote attributed to Frida says “I paint self portraits because I am the person the I know best.” If the restaurant is based on Frida’s inspiration for her art, then the menu says everything about the chef. It has been a long time since I have visited a new restaurant and really enjoyed the food, mainly because most restaurants lack innovation and render out the same standard fare that everyone else in town produces. I applaud Frida’s for taking traditional Mexican and Latin dishes and making them unique and original.
The restaurant is located in the midst of a highly populated residential area in North San Antonio. One of the owners, Cathy, told us during our visit that they decided to stay away from the commercial explosion happening along the Loop 1604 corridor on the North because they wanted to promote themselves as a “neighborhood” restaurant. I will make an effort here to get the word out that Frida’s is a place that locals and visitors alike should make the trip for.
The interior of the restaurant is attractive, with table linens, comfortable seating, earth-toned hues, hand blown light pendants, and a rotating display of local artists’ works. My wife and I went during a slow period and the waitstaff was attentive and friendly. We were there for lunch and were really just looking for a light meal, so we didn’t eat much. But the quality of the food and the interesting menu will bring me back again for sure.
We decided to order the Empanadas Latinas. The menu says there are four fillings you could choose from, but they are really only making two: the ground beef picadillo, or the chorizo. The first thing that caught my attention was that these were not the empanadas I was used to. Most Latin empanadas have a flaky crust shaped into a half-moon about 4″-6″ wide. These were smaller and the dough reminded me of a South American “arepa” made from corn meal. It was a delightfully delicious change from what I was used to. The six empanadas had a light drizzling of a mango poppy seed sauce that added a sweet flavor to the meat. The chorizo used is the soft Mexican kind that my wife normally doesn’t care for, yet she ate these wholeheartedly.
We also decided to split the Lomo de Puerco en Salsa de Mango (in other words, pork loin with mango sauce). The pork was sliced into medallions and grilled, then topped with a pico de gallo and mango sauce. What a great combination. All of this was served on a heap of cilantro white rice. One of my pet peeves are restaurants that neglect the side dishes. This rice, however, was fluffy and moist and had an excellent cilantro flavor without the green leaves speckled throughout. Lastly, the dish came with fried plantains. Interestingly enough, these were not tostones, the twice-fried plantains. These ripe plantains were thinly sliced and fried once, allowing the slight sweetness of the plantain to shine through. As with the empanadas, we were pleased at how this dish presented slight variations on typical Latin fare.
I look forward to returning to try the Cascabel Sauce, the Poblano Mole made with bananas and nuts, and if I’m lucky, they will still carry a few items made with fresh huitlacoche (yes, the veritable corn fungus) or squash flower. If they ever experiment with chapulines, I’ll be there in a heartbeat. I hope they continue to push their “neighbors” to explore new tastes, and not succumb to the same pressures that have led other used-to-be-good restaurants in town to dumb down their food. My only gripe about this place? The Kids Menu.