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Top 5 Mexican Restaurants in Chicago

There are a lot of Mexican restaurants in Chicago, some small mom and pop places and others are big franchises. But there is a hierarchy in the Chicago Mexican cuisine scene, and as you can tell from the list below, Rick Bayless is king. Rick Bayless runs three of the five restaurants on the list, but there really are plenty of other great options in Chicago.

 

Photos: Chicago Grubstreet/Chicago Mag

445 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60654 312-661-1434 www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/topolobampo.html
1

Topolobampo

Since 1989 this restaurant has been racking up plenty of accolades and awards for being one of the finest restaurants in the city. They take their food serious and make sure to use the best ingredients available, often organic and custom grown just for Rick Bayless restaurants. Topolobampo has such great food and people love it so much that it’s suggested you make a reservation 8-10 weeks in advance.
108 West Kinzie Chicago, IL 60654 312-329-9555 www.mercaditorestaurants.com
2

Mercadito

Mercadito is a rock star as far as Mexican restaurants go. Patricio Sandoval has put together a place with a great vibe and some amazing dishes, and I can’t forget the accompanying tequila. They have every one of the staples, including ceviches, botanas and of course tacos. The cocktail list is impressive with tequila being the clear star. But what most impresses me about Mercadito, besides the food, is the environment. They are constantly having events (many of which have been featured on Haute Living), specials and just plain mixing it up. I would also recommend checking out their brunch.
445 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60654 312-661-1434 www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/grill.html
3

Frontera Grill

While Topolobampo is the more classy and serious Mexican joint, Frontera grill is the playful energetic neighbor. The two restaurants are connected, but the atmospheres are worlds apart. Frontera has the energy of an American grill, but they’re serving up Mexican food using beautiful ingredients to make amazing food full of bold flavors.
1252 North Wells Street Chicago, IL 60610 312-988-7811 www.salpicon.com
4

Salpicon

This is sure to be on everyone’s top five list, with Chef Priscila Satkoff’s incredible classic and contemporary Mexican cuisine. The food is so good that the universally trusted Michelin Guide called her “this town’s unsung hero of contemporary Mexican cuisine.” And to top it all off, the food is paired with an award-winning wine list and an extensive list of 100% agave Tequilas.
449 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60654 www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html
5

XOCO

XOCO is Mexican slang for little sister but flavor at this Chicago hotspot is big and bold. It’s Rick Bayless doing Mexican street food and snacks the absolute best he can. Churros, empanadas, frothy Mexican hot chocolate ground from Mexican cacao beans, tortas and made-to-order caldos are available at this restaurant where you are engulfed in the aromas and sounds of authentic Mexican food being prepared.
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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014