Rick Bayless is a highly acclaimed chef of Mexican cuisine, especially in the Chicago area. He has over five restaurants and catering companies in Illinois, and he is widely known for his television show, Mexico One Plate At a Time on PBS. Bayless has made multiple appearances on the Food Network, so it is not surprising that the channel has praised many of his restaurants, including Topolobampo. Located on North Clark Street in downtown Chicago, the restaurant is right in the middle of all the action. “Topolo,” as the frequent visitors call the restaurant, is known for being the quieter, possibly classier version of its sister site Frontera Grill, also owned by Bayless. Rick’s goal is to enhance the typical reputation that Mexican cuisine has by putting an upscale twist on the food, while maintaining the authentic flavors and techniques.
Topolobampo is open for lunch and dinner, but requires a reservation, which sometimes needs to be made up to eight and ten weeks in advance! However, the unique dining experience is worth the wait as Esquire and the James Beard Foundation have both honored Topolobompo with being a top restaurant in not only Illinois, but the entire country. Topolo is also the first ethnic restaurant to be awarded four out of four stars in Chicago Magazine. Other honors for Topolo include the Ivy Award and the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. For such a highly acclaimed restaurant, the prices are relatively affordable. Entrees on the dinner menu range in price from $25.00 to $49.00. For those who have a little extra money to spend and are really looking for a great food experience guided by Bayless himself, there are many options included on the Chef’s Tasting Menu.
There are three sections included on the Chef’s Tasting Menu. The Topolo Classics, is a menu made up of the most popular dishes among customers and Rick himself. Next is the Veracruz: Three Hearts Beat as One menu, which includes items for the more daring customer. Finally, Bayless has added the Mexican Icons, Local Bounty menu. Ingredients from Chicago's Green City Market are used in these recipes to allow customers to enjoy what the Chicago has to offer. Rick Bayless has done a great job achieving his goal of convincing people that Mexican cuisine can be a five-star dining experience. Diners will also be pleased to find some of their well-known favorites on the lunch and dinner menus like Enchiladas and Carnitas, however there are many items like lamb, prime rib eye, and lobster medallions that Topolo has transformed into Mexican delicacies. The dessert menu does something similar because customers can order anything from the traditional Flan to an enhanced Honey Crisp Apple Pie.
Whether you are a fan of Mexican cuisine or are looking to take a risk, consider trying Topolobampo for your next dinner outing!