March 28, 2008

Frontera Grill & Topolobampo

Rick BaylessAnyone who's interested in food knows about Rick Bayless, Chicago's own celebrity chef. Specializing in Mexican cuisine, he is known for countless cookbooks, his PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time, and two great restaurants here in Chicago: Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.

The two restaurants share the same building and bar and have a hip, colorful atmosphere. Both offer some of the best Mexican food you'll ever have. For a more casual feel, try Frontera Grill. Just remember, Frontera takes a limited amount of reservations for all sizes. So, more than likely, you'll be in for a long wait at the bar. After a few rounds of margaritas though, that may not be such a bad thing.

The dining room is rustic yet lively, decorated with orange and yellow walls and bright paintings. Dedicated to local farm produce, the restaurant's menu changes monthly, and the dishes vary from mild to spicy. Current specialties include spicy, red chile-marinated shrimp with smoky sauce; chipotle-glazed, wood-grilled salmon; and red chile-rubbed duck breast served with Morita mashed sweet potatoes.

Frontera's sister eatery, Topolobampo, is upscale and refined and offers tables by reservation only. This fine-dining establishment is very popular, so you'll want to call several weeks in advance. That will give you time to save up for this culinary experience, as a meal can easily cost over $50 per person. Fortunately, Topolobampo is worth every penny.

topolobampoBlue-velvet curtains and a brick-tile floor give the place a sophisticated feel, and service is smart and professional. Flavorful dishes include pan-roasted Maine lobster in almond-thickened guero chile cream and Gunthorp rock hen in creamy roasted tomatillo sauce. Can't decide? Topolobampo offers a five-course tasting menu for $70.

Wherever you go, prepare yourself for authentic flavors and an incredible experience.

Photo credit: Wikipedia, food in mouth

Frontera Grill ($$): 445 N Clark St; 312-661-1434
Tues ' Fri: 11:30 a.m. ' 2:30 p.m.
Sat: 10:30 a.m. ' 2:30 p.m. (brunch)
Tues: 5:20 p.m. ' 10:00 p.m.
Weds ' Thurs: 5:00 p.m. ' 10:00 p.m.
Fri ' Sat: 5:00 p.m. ' 11:00 p.m.

Topolobampo ($$$$): 445 N Clark St; 312-661-1434
Tues: 11:45 a.m. ' 2:00 p.m.
Weds ' Fri: 11:30 a.m. ' 2:00 p.m.
Tues ' Thurs: 5:30 p.m. ' 9:30 p.m.
Fri ' Sat: 5:30 p.m. ' 10: 30 p.m.

Street parking difficult, valet available
Public trans: Bus # 22, 36, 65, 156

One comment

1 comment to Frontera Grill & Topolobampo

  1. "Top Chef: Chicago" Hosts A Block Party
    March 30th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    [...] This week's Quickfire challenge required each of the chefs to create a taco dish that was suitable for fine dining. Along with earning its creator immunity in the following Elimination challenge, the winning dish was placed on the menu at Rick Bayless' restaurant, Topolobampo. Sure, it may sound funny, but the flavors here are amazing. You can read more about it and its sister restaurant in my post: Frontera Grill & Topolobampo. [...]

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