Weekend Break: Frontier Chicago

CHICAGO — On the outskirts of West Town, just off Milwaukee Avenue, you’ll find a restaurant where nature dictates what’s on the menu.

The exotic offerings at Frontier Chicago, located at 1072 North Milwaukee Avenue, include a gator dinner and a pig roast.

“Thirteen years in, definitely adventurous dining has been happening over here at Frontier,” says Frontier owner and executive chef Brian Jupiter, a James Beard Award semifinalist.

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And some of that, Jupiter says, has extended to Frontier’s new brunch menu.

“We’ve done brunch, but we’re bringing it back in a different way,” he said. “New items, exciting items. And then we have the nice, bright patio for you to enjoy the upcoming spring at.”

While Frontier’s exotic menu items could be intimidating for some, the restaurant features a great ambience and a cozy atmosphere. Plus the menu contains plenty of “regular” options for those who don’t have such an adventurous palate.

“We have celebrations for everything that you can celebrate here,” Jupiter said. “People are used to coming in and having a good time.

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“And there’s something simple and something that’s not as scary for everybody on the menu, I guarantee you that.”

That new brunch menu, Jupiter says, includes a maple-glazed pork belly that’s cured and smoked in-house and comes with hash browns, fried eggs and a mixed-greens salad.

“This is definitely one of my favorite dishes on our new menu,” Jupiter said. “One of many.”

Indeed, there are plenty of hearty brunch options.

“We have our French toast, which people have really loved — which I absolutely love,” Jupiter said.

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Jupiter also collaborates once a month with other chefs for a smoke-session dinner.

“(That’s) an outside chef that comes and does a collaborative menu with me,” he said. “We also do the four-course gator dinner. All gator, a few different ways.”

Frontier is one of two restaurants Jupiter has that features his Southern cooking concepts. Ina Mae Tavern, located at 1415 North Wood Street in Wicker Park, “is what happens when the Big Easy meets the Windy City,” according to its website.

“I’m from New Orleans. Ina Mae was my great-grandmother,” Jupiter explains. “And so that one is all New Orleans food. We do live music there during brunch.

“And so that’s another great stop for your Saturday or Sunday morning.”

Brunch at Frontier is served from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Brunch at Ina Mae is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

And Jupiter isn’t done with new ideas.

He’s partnering with Frontier chef Azazi Morsi on Migos Fine Foods, which is to be located in Portage Park and will serve tacos and halal chicken among its offerings.

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