Katie Hudson, an American, and Victor Flores, a native of Honduras, met when both were working at one of the now-closed Applebee’s restaurants. More recently, the married couple worked at Las Tres Fronteras, owned by Flores’ mother, Blanco Alfaro.
“It’s a tiny place near 21st Street and Memorial (Drive) that serves only Honduran food,” Hudson said. “My husband and I wanted to do our own thing, and my mother-in-law suggested we open this restaurant.”
The restaurant is Sin Fronteras, located in a former Ron’s Hamburgers building on the south end of Brookside. It opened about two months ago.
Sin Fronteras translates to “without borders,” and that is a good description of the menu. Though relatively small, it includes traditional Honduran, Tex-Mex and regional Mexican with touches of South American and the Caribbean.
“The Honduran dishes are all my mother-in-law’s recipes,” Hudson said.
We stuck exclusively to the Honduran section of the menu for rather obvious reasons on a recent dinner visit. We can get a burrito, taco or enchilada anywhere, but how many places will we find such choices as pierna, pechuga, baleadas, papusas, sopa marinera and desayuno sencillo?
We couldn’t load up on all of those dishes, but the ones we selected were filling and enough to take leftovers home for the next day’s lunch.
Most items have a basic preparation and can have any number of other ingredients added. We warmed up for our main dishes with an order of papusas ($2.50) and a baleadas ($4.50).
Papusas are a common street food made with a standard-size, thick corn tortilla. Ours was filled with mashed refried beans, cheese and pork and came with a mild, tasty tomato salsa. On Wednesdays, papusas go for $1 each between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Our baleada was huge. It included a house-made, 12-inch tortilla filled with chicken, beans, lettuce and sour cream. We added scrambled egg and avocado, both of which added nicely to the flavor.
For our main dishes, we chose pierna ($8.99) and desayuno sencillo ($8.99).
Pierna translates to “leg,” and this dish featured a large, deep-fried chicken leg quarter topped with shredded cabbage, a red sauce and a white sauce, served over tajadas. This dish had more flavors working in tandem than the others we tried, and I loved it.
Tajadas were ripe plantains that had been cut into thin slices and fried. They were almost like thin-cut fried potatoes or thick chips.
Desayuno sencillo translates to “simple breakfast,” and our platter arrived with two eggs we ordered over-medium, a slice of Honduran cheese, a container of Honduran sour cream, avocado slices, mashed refried beans, a choice of flour or corn tortillas and three long, thick slices of fried plantains.
The sour cream and the cheese were salty and a little sour, and the cheese had a coarse, crumbly texture. I was OK with them, but I am told most diners love them or hate them.
I have it on good word the sopa marinera, or seafood soup, the only dish on the menu above $10 at $13.99, is delicious. It has a coconut milk base and is filled with shrimp, crab, calamari, oysters and plantains.
For our drinks, we chose peach iced tea ($2.50) served in giant plastic tumblers.
Hudson said they acquired the building in December and took three months to clean, paint, get permits and get the kitchen ready.
The exterior, painted a dark, bright fuscia, makes a statement at 49th Street and Peoria Avenue. The same color is found on one brick wall inside, balanced by a buff color on the remainder of the walls.
It has six booths and four tables, so it can fill up in a hurry. One wall has Mexican, American and Honduran flags, and a television was set to a Spanish station.
One customer we met said she grew up in a German-American family with a Honduran cook in a Mexican neighborhood in southern California.
“I’ve been here several times, and it is great,” she said. “It reminds me so much of home.”