Dining Out: Glen Burnie’s Sin Fronteras Express offers sinfully good “cuisine rapide”

When Walter Velasquez and Wilmer Romero, owners of Annapolis’ popular Latin restaurant, Sin Fronteras, were looking to add a second location along bustling Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, they knew they couldn’t succeed by replicating the original.

The Annapolis spot, now in its eighth year, has an easy-going, laid-back feel. The menu is long for diners apt to linger longer. Its very good food finds its roots not only in Mexico and Miami, but also across Latin America and, lately, into South America.

And Sin Fronteras Express? It’s tucked in a cozy corner near what was once Harundale Mall and wisely picks up the faster pace and lifestyle of North County.

Menu and service are geared to the local demographics: folks grabbing a quick dinner at their comfortable tables or booths on their way to or coming home from work; young families and seniors eating out on a budget; or military, government and tech company employees lining up for a take-home dinner after a long day.

It’s not fast food, but it is “cuisine rapide,” and the freshness and full flavors may surprise you. The tidy menu lists just three appetizers and five main courses – all honed from the Annapolis menu.

The adventure here is their new signature Express Menu. It’s built on a new concept in developed in Miami called “mistura.”

Think of the “build your own burger” item you find at many casual American eateries. “Mistura” allows the diner to customize their burritos, tacos, chimichangas and quesadillas with a selection of fillings – ground beef, steak, chicken and pork, along with a variety peppers, sauces, toppings and reductions.

Three of us arrived at Sins Fronteras Express hungry and thirsty. The Annapolis location has two powerful openers: superb guacamole ($9.99 – more than enough for three) and big margaritas that are pure beverage artistry. Happily, both are front and center in Glen Burnie, along with the warm tortilla chips and zippy fresh salsa delivered almost as soon as you sit down. You can also slake you thirsts with a selection of Latin American beers, wines and, juices and soft drinks.

Two of us ordered from the entrée list and one of us from the Express Menu. Our meals arrived within 10 minutes. Rather than food warmed over from earlier cooking, every dish was bright and fresh to the eye and the taste buds.

The Pollo Tropical smothered a marinated chicken breast with Caribbean spices, then enveloped it with mango salsa loaded with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and sweet pepper. Served with rice, it was a luscious dinner at $13.99.

The second entrée was the Peruvian Lomo Saltado ($13.99). Slices of marinated beefsteak were cooked with olive oil, soy sauce, white wine, pepper and onion and served over your choice of fried potatoes or yucca. The perfectly cooked rice on the side helped soak up the abundance of the silky sauce.

Other entrees included Ropa Vieja ($13.99) starring shredded beef in a robust sauce built from red wine and fresh vegetables. If you’re in the mood for fish, a platter similar to the Pollo Tropical replaces chicken with tilapia. And, a first rate Cuban Sandwich is available as well.

The express menu diner went for the beef tacos and a pork quesadilla, both $6.99 and stuffed with fresh, well-seasoned meats. The “mistura” concept encouraged experimenting with sauces and toppings with happy results.

There are a couple of desserts for ending your meal, including a wickedly good Banana Tempura.

Velasquez and Romero say they may expand the Sins Fronteras Express menu down the road. But right now, up the road in busy Glen Burnie, they’re serving up fine, fresh affordable fare in record time.

Eat your heart out Taco Bell.

Sin Fronteras Express

WHAT: Sin Fronteras Express

WHERE: 7748 Ritchie Highway

Harundale Plaza, Glen Burnie

PHONE: 410-424-2022

WEBSITE: sinfronterascafe.com

HOURS: Daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

CHEF: Joanna Coto

1st COURSES: (For Sharing) $7.99 to $9.99

ENTREES: $12.99 to $13.99

EXPRESS MENU: From $6.99

RESERVATIONS: For Six or More

CREDIT CARDS: All Major Cards

ACCESSIBILITY: Yes

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