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Jun 8, 2008 05:28 PM

Frontera Grill and Topolobampo--overkill?

We will be visiting Chicago in October for a few days and are considering Frontera one day for lunch and Topolobampo another night for dinner; the menus look different enough on the website; in your opinion would this still be overkill?

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  1. It needn't be overkill. Diinner dishes at Topolo (especially on the tasting menus) are typically more refined and complicated than lunch at Frontera (though there can be some overlaps, especially in the desserts; and lunch at Topolo has some items from the Frontera menu). You can check the menus online to avoid any overlaps. I would especially suggest going to Frontera for Saturday brunch, when they have some splendid egg dishes that are quite different from anything at Topolo. Apart from the food, the atmospheres of the two restaurants are rather different, particularly because Topolo is considerably quieter, especially if you avoid the front part of the room, which opens onto Frontera.

    1. My opinion would be yes, it would be overkill. I would do Frontera for lunch, and then skip Topo.OR, I would skip Topo for dinner, and do Frontera for dinner instead. I'm a pretty big fan of Frontera, but I think Topo is not really worth any more fuss. I enjoy the value of Frontera much more. Is Topo BAD? Absolutely not. I just think that for the price, you do much better at Frontera. Knowing what I know, I'd skip Topo for dinner, and just do Frontera instead.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordeaux

        There's lots of disagreement on this board about Frontera/Topolobampo. I've been to both many, many times and think both are great. But, in my view, Topolo is one of the very best restaurants (of any cuisine) in Chicago. And relative to comparable restaurants, it's a great bargain. If you're interested in Mexican food, I think it would be a big mistake to miss dinner at Topolo.

      2. The menus are different enough to merit two visits. My advice would be to sit at the bar at lunch. Both menus are offered to bar patrons (at least at lunch, not sure about dinner). Dave, the bartender/server, provides outstanding service and recommendations. The only downside is that you are offered a complimentary guacamole appetizer when seated in Topo and none is provided at the bar, although it is available on the menu.

        1. I found all three of of Rick Bayless' restaurants to be equally unimpressive.

          That said, instead I would opt for a quick lunch at the Frontera Fresco in the Macy's 7th floor to get virtually the same taste experience as the other three, but for a fraction of the cost.

          2 Replies
          1. re: abf005

            I will have to disagree that bayless is unimpressive--very few places in Chicago or other cities that I've visited will you find Mexican taken to this level. In my opinion, the food at Frontera is very good and I've enjoyed a dinner at Topolobambo also. You will not be disappointed. The quick stop Frontera Fresco in Macy's is good, but limited and you are still eating in a food court.

            I would personally pick either Topo or Frontera for your trip rather than both--there are so many other great places to try.

            1. re: jbontario

              I always enjoy Frontera, but I'd say two in one trip would be too much - especially given all the other options in town.

          2. Why do you want to go to both?

            If you're going primarily for the Rick Bayless experience, then it wouldn't be overkill to do both.

            But if you're going because you want to try good Mexican food (to which you don't normally have access wherever you live), then I'd try one of the two, then try a less upscale place like Nuevo Leon.