• Location(s): Chicago-IL

Rick Bayless and his team have been creating amazing food at Topolobampo for the past 28 years. The concept has evolved over the years and the food has become more complex and unique. The challenge we were given in the re-design of Topolobampo, was to elevate the space to align with the amazing food being produced in the kitchen. We sought to create a space that was sumptuous, elegant, and wondrous – that extends the energy created in the kitchen into the dining room.
The wood fins that flow through the space pull the energy through the dining room.  They connect the two spaces in the restaurant and add emphasis to the bar adjacent to the entry. The fins turn down and frame the mezcal and tequila display creating a glowing backdrop to the bar which is clad with a unique pewter tile.
As you enter into the space, a cloud of lighting floats above a beautiful walnut slab table — creating a feature element that grabs your attention as you enter and adds to the wondrous experience of the space.  The white plaster walls create a gallery backdrop for the amazing collection of original Mexican art.  The colors with in the space are kept subtle, to keep the focus on the vivid colors within the art and the food.  The banquettes have been updated with the luxurious addition of tufted leather and a touch of olive green velvet at the new chairs.
As the energy flows from the kitchen, there is yet an intimate feeling still created at each table with lighting and the way the acoustics of the space and the music envelope you.  The focus is on the food, but yet the music, the art, and the lighting all add to the experience.
The project was a very quick process from start to finish — with design starting in October of 2016 and construction completing in the 2nd week of January 2017.  The main portion of construction on site was actually completed in only 9 days.  From start to finish, the design had to be streamlined with the goal of completing the project in this short time period.  The team from Aria and Kern Konstruction worked together to make this goal possible.

After the remodel, the restaurant received the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant.