Thursday, November 13, 2008

Frisco Grille & Cantina in Columbia

Beer is the key to the Frisco Grille and Cantina in Columbia. This is a classic Howard County spot -- a shopping center bay that looks anonymous from the outside, but has been tricked out inside with something special.

The special at the Frisco Grille is beer. Nineteen rotating taps of high-quality beers from craft breweries. Dozens of more labels in bottles. On Tuesday, there is trivia. On Wednesdays, there a "pint night" special with free glasses and the chance to meet the people who brew or sell the special beers.

Frisco Grille is a pub, which is ironic considering that it calls itself both a "grille" and a "cantina." There is a small bar and then tables scattered around the room. Televisions screens turned to sports and news. A menu that runs to "Cal-Mex" items like burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas and to sandwiches like a lightly fried chicken breast or fajita meat on a kaiser roll. This isn't a Top 10 restaurant. It's a pub menu where you go for the place and the beer, and you enjoy good food with a few highlights like superb onion rings, a unique spicy mustard, and an appetizer of risotto griddled into lightly-crisp pancakes. It's also a pretty modern pub menu that offers lighter fare like seafood and vegetarian options built on beans, spinach, and tofu.

But this isn't Great Sage. You can get a cheese-and-chorizo dip to accompany your beer and conversation. The draft beers change, but the electronic beer list recently included Dortmunder, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Weyebacher, La Couffe, Clipper City and Brewers Art. That is probably a treasure trove if you're a beer aficionado, and The Baltimore Beer Guy writes often about the rotating options. But it's also fun if you're a neophyte who wants to taste a few beers before you order your pint. Frisco Grille has no pretentions. You can sample and explore.

(Update: Frisco Grille will expand in 2010 to take over the tailor next door. The Baltimore Beer Guy reports that they'll double the number of taps and build a bar in the new space. Also, Frisco has added new dishes on a "secret" side menu. I enjoyed Gus' Green Tacos -- firm white fish sauted in a mixture of tomatillo sauce and the house-made green hot sauce. It's

a nice taco, and I especially liked the mango salsa on the side. I always love food that surprises me. I don't know that I would have ordered tacos with a creamy sauce lined across them. But Gus' Green Tacos had a really nice balance -- littlecreamy, little lime-sour and just enough heat to be refreshing.)

(Update: Frisco Grille moved to Dobbin Road and became Frisco Tap House.  It's definitely work checking out.)

Frisco Grille is one of the best places for beer in Howard County along with The Perfect Pour's wall of beer and Victoria Gastro Pub, which also serves craft beers on tap at its bar.

Read more about Frisco in the
Baltimore Beer Guy, Adventures in Baltimore Restaurants, or The Beer Advocate.

Frisco Grille & Cantina -- moved and became Frisco Tap House
8865 Stanford Bouelvard
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: Frisco Grille is off Dobbin Road south of Rte 175 in a shopping center with Pub Dog. From the north, take Rte 175 and turn south on Dobbin Road at the intersection with a Chik-fil-A and a Kmart. The shopping center is on the left after the second light. From the south, take Snowden River Parkway and turn left on McGaw Road at the light with Apple Ford. Turn right at the light with Dobbin, then look for the shopping center on the right.

Frisco Grill and Cantina on Urbanspoon


Unknown said...

I went here with my girlfriend a few weekends ago after reading the review here, and I must say I am very disappointed. I think the bulk of it was the bad service we had. Our waitress was very pushy and carried the "I am mightier than thou" attitude, which really ruined the entire experience.
I had two pints of beer, the dogfish and the loose cannon on tap. Apparently the only way to determine what is on tap is to either sit at the bar (full the night we went) or to watch a scrolling television screen in the back of the room. Our waitress was no help. The Loose Cannon was good, hoppier than the Dogfish 60 minute and than the Hoppy Dog at the Pub Dog across the parking lot, but smooth enough to be drinkable.
We ordered appetizers and fajitas. The rossito cakes were interesting, and the fajitas were not bad. I must point out that whatever they do to the fajita steak is amazing. It was almost worth coming back and battling the service to try more steak fajitas. The meat was very tender and very well marinated.
Now that I am typing this, I cannot remember what else we disliked about the place. I would hate to give a bad recommendation based off of bad service, but right now that is all I can remember. I'll discuss this with my other half, and if we return I'll be sure and follow-up. At this time, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. If you are going to look for food in this shopping center, I would recommend pizza at Pub Dog.

Morty Abzug said...

This is one of my favorite carry-out places, for exactly one dish: the chorizo burrito. I've tried a few other items on the menu, and they were OK. But what keeps me coming back is the chorizo burrito. It is an almost-perfect symphony of spicy chorizo, tasty rice, beans, guacamole, and other typical burrito ingredients. The "regular" is so huge, I've never been tempted to try the large. It would be perfect, except that sometimes, the beans are a little undercooked.

Anonymous said...

Opus..pubdog? LOL. What a joke.

To everyone else reading this, Frisco is amazing. The food is great, they have tons of beer on tap and it's a fun place to go and grab a bite. I have never had an issue with service here and have been at least 20 times in the past few years. Anyone that recommends pizza at pubdog can not be taken seriously. Trust me on that..

Anonymous said...

Tried Frisco's last night and was very unimpressed. Food was good, not great. Beer selection was disappointing and the beer was not cold enough. Beer selection and quality is far superior at Judge's Bench, though the food at Frisco's is better.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Anyone criticizing the beer selection at a place like Frisco and saying "the beer wasn't cold enough" is probably complaining because the place didn't have Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Corona Lite. <:-/

brandon said...

One word of warning, they have stopped accepting gift certificates due to a dispute with

I've been here a number of times and really enjoy their food and beer selection. I used to go there frequently when they were Frisco Burrito and I think they still serve the best burrito (in the vein of Chipotle, Qdoba, etc) in the area. It was just an unwelcome surprise that the bill was $25 higher due to the snag.

jeff said...

company just relocated to the columbia area, right on snowden river prkw, so this place is just across the street. very excited to go try it tomorrow and the others spots mentioned in the posts. glad i found this blog, keep the reviews coming!

Unknown said...

My family and I love Frisco we love to call it our secret place. we order the same thing every time. I LOVE the chirzo enchilada Grilled spicy. Opus sorry to hear about the bad service i hope it doesnt stop u from trying it again. next time just ask for the owner hes a pretty cool guy. o and No i am not related to the owner or anyone at the grill i just love the food there.

biscuitpusher said...

I love, love, LOVE Frisco. It is the stand-by for my husband and I. But, we are also beer snobs who love hoppy beers and Frisco caters to that. Plus we sit at the bar and know the bartenders, the owner, most of the regulars and the most of the servers and tend to go early so it's not crazy crowded. Also, Frisco isn't expanding to the tailors next door anymore, now they are moving up the road a bit and expanding to something like 50 taps. you can get the new address and map from their website: