The Rick Bayless bar aims to pay tribute to Mexico’s markets
Published Jan. 24, 2019, at 2:37 p.m.
Text by Claire Voon
Find this cavern devoted to agave drinks and Mexican bar fare in the basement of Frontera Grill. Like its upstairs neighbor, the speakeasy-style Bar Sótano (443 N. Clark St., River North) is a Rick Bayless project; it draws inspiration from the vibrant markets of the famous chef’s culinary country of choice.
That’s less apparent in the decor, which is dark and elegantly restrained, but more evident when you look at the menu. Wolf down dishes like tacos or tlayuda and choose from a lengthy selection of mezcal — supposedly one of the largest in the country. Or, sip on a cocktail created by Bayless’s daughter, Lanie, who serves as spirits director. One sure-to-be-Instagrammed drink: a $13 mango chamoy beverage, which is served in a plastic bag, shamelessly appropriating a drinking vessel many Mexican street vendors use for practical reasons.
With just 50 seats, expect the intimate space to fill up quickly. But the kitchen is open late (until midnight, on weekends), making it a good option for late-night quality eats.