Rick Bayless is a James Beard Award–winning chef who specializes in modern Mexican cuisine. He owns three restaurants in Chicago—Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and the newly opened XOCO—and was the 2009 winner of Bravo network's Top Chef Masters.
What are your favorite Chicago restaurants? What are your favorite things to order on the menu?
I am a big fan of our neighborhood places. Chicago is a neighborhood town, so I tend to favor Bucktown spots because that is where I live: Hot Chocolate...you can't beat Mindy Segal's desserts—doughnuts, my favorite! We also go to Jane's a lot—love the burger. And of course Mirai Sushi.
What is your favorite thing to do on a free Saturday afternoon?
I love being outdoors when it is summer here—bike riding, gardening and even yoga in my backyard!
What's the one thing you would you tell someone who has never been to Chicago to do when visiting?
I would tell them to get out of downtown. Sure, there is the gorgeous Millennium Park, but after downtown, I would recommend getting into what Chicago really is—great food and spots off the Mag Mile. You should go to Maxwell Street Market—it is amazing and only on Sunday. Or go to Pilsen on 18th street and try out a carnitas taco at Don Pedro's. For shopping, hit Wicker Park and Bucktown—so many amazing shops!
How long have you lived in Chicago, and why do you love the city?
I consider Chicago my home. I was born in Oklahoma City, but I don't ever think of that as my home. I have lived here over 25 years and have loved every minute of it. Chicago is the best it has ever looked, and I am proud to call Chicago my city. Of course I want to share it with the world.
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