Chicago: Topolobampo (*)

A restaurant that seemed to do the impossible: combining Mexican cuisine with modern, sophisticated fine dining. This was the restaurant that introduced me to Mexican food that I could never have in Vancouver, a restaurant that finally woke my taste buds up!

I was about half an hour late for my reservation when I arrived at the restaurant and there was a long line up outside – a good sign. I was led pass the loud and rowdy sister restaurant, Frontera Grill, and into Topolobampo, where Chicago’s finest were sipping wine and cocktail. White tablecloth and wall paintings adorned the dimmed room, a stark contrast to the room next door which resembled a high school cafeteria, only separated by a thin screen door.

There were 3 tasting menus, the Topolo Classics which featured some of Topolobampo’s classic signature dishes, Regional Mexican Stand-Outs which featured a menu made with regional ingredients, and the Traditional Re-Envisioned, which featured some of Bayless’s modern interpretations of Mexican food. Always wanted the lastest and my mind to be completely blown, I went for the later.

Huitlacoche Tamal, banana-leaf steamed tamal of sweet corn masa, local corn mushroom, four-chile salsa, homemade fresh cheese, cultured cream espuma.

I forgot what this was…

Cauliflower Crema with Guero Chile, silky heirloom cauliflower soup, emulsion of guero chile and roasted almonds, wilted butter luttuce, crispy chia cake.

Walleye Veracruzana, crispy-skin Lake Superior walleye, yellow tomato emulsion with Veracruz flavors, “confit” baby tomatoes, Nichols Farm fingerlings, Lucques olives, pickled jalapeno, caper dust.

Venison in Red Pipian, Hawks hill venison, red pipian, ancho chiles, white hulled pumpkin seeds, browned butter, sweet spices, butter roasted kuri squash, apple-pumpkin mash, amaranth crisp, Bayless Garden greens.

Arroz con Leche, Luscious coconut rice pudding mousse with gooey rice pudding center, cardamom-scented “rice pudding” cream, toasted Myers rum marshmallow, wrinkled golden rod grapes, crispy rice.

I forgot what this was…

As I walked away from the restaurant, I realized I probably couldn’t get Mexican anywhere near this good back in Vancouver. I savoured every bite in the menu and could’ve licked the plate if the venue allows. This was the most memorable meal I’ve had in the whole trip and I wish something close to this is available in Vancouver.


Name: Topolobampo
Address: 445 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654, USA (Map)
Phone: 312.661.1434
Menu: Link
Dishes You Must Try: Huitlacoche Tamal, Walleye Veracruzana, Venison in Red Pipian, Arroz con Leche
OpenTable Profile: Link
Topolobampo on Urbanspoon Rating: 86% (out of 722votes, as of this writing)
Yelp Rating: 4/5 (out of 574 reviews, as of this writing)
Finest Dish’s Quality Rating: 5/5
Finest Dish’s Service Rating: 4./5


This entry was posted in 1 Michelin Star (*), Chicago, Mexican, Reviews, Tasting Menu. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight − 4 =