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Frontera Grill vs. Topo for lunch

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I'm going to be in chicago in about 10 days and I've been hearing great things about Rick Bayless' restaurants. As a recent college grad, $$ is a consideration so I'm thinking about going to either Topo or Frontera Grill for lunch (for 2 people to celebrate a birthday). Which one would you recommend? I know Frontera doesn't take reservations but does it get really crowded for lunch? Thanks!

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  1. Frontera accepts reservations for lunch. I called on a Thursday @ 11:00, and go a 12:00 table for the same day. The restaurant was packed by 12:30.

    My wife and myself had lunch and the tab was $70 that included 3 tequila tasing flights. The food was excellent, and you may just see Chef Bayless as we did on our visit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: swsidejim

      Frontera Grill accepts reservations, but only for that same day, starting at 8:30 a.m. Call them the morning you wish to have lunch there, as close to 8:30 as you can.

      Frontera Grill is less expensive than Topolobampo. You can view the current menus for both, including prices, on their website at www.rickbayless.com/menu

    2. Topo's lunch prices are far cheaper than dinner - to the point that they're almost the same as Frontera's. Check out the menus and see what you'd probably eat.

      Is a quieter atmosphere, guaranteed reservation now. and somewhat fancier food worth an extra $15-20? Go for Topo.

      We've been to Frontera for lunch....arrived right when they opened (11:30) and the place was quiet, by the time we had our appetizer the restaurant was at full throttle, and by the time we left, I overheard the hostess say the wait was one hour. My advice is if you prefer Frontera to get there early.

      1. When I was in Chicago 3 years ago, I had an early dinner at Frontera Grill. If they offer a ceviche appetizer (I recall it having white fish and green olives in it) GRAB IT. It was phenomenal!!

        1. Thanks for all the advice, I think I've decided on Frontera since I'd rather the casual atmosphere. I'll try and call that morning for a reservation or I'll get there early. Any suggestions for what to order? Would you recommend splitting some of the smaller plates or just going for the entrees?

          1 Reply
          1. re: AnjLM

            I was able to make a lunch reservation at Frontera a couple days in advance the last time I tried (about a month ago). It can't hurt to give them a call earlier.