Food & Wine Best New Chef 1988 Rick Bayless gives an insider guide to Chicago, from the best brunch spots to the top bars.

On Chicago

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and I love that. It’s cool to have different foods from all over the world within a stone’s throw of my house. My wife’s family is from Chicago, so we decided to open the Mexican restaurant Frontera Grill 21 years ago and Topolobampo three years later (445 N. Clark St.; 312-661-1434 or

Favorite Cultural Activities

I love the eclectic Maxwell Street Market for its delicious street food (500 W. Roosevelt Rd.; 312-922-3100). I swear, sometimes I feel like I am in Mexico when I eat there. And should I also need a dozen tube socks, I am set.

Favorite Brunch Spot

I like to stick to my neighborhood and I often go to Hot Chocolate for brunch (1747 N. Damon Ave.; 773-489-1747 or

Favorite Nightlife Spot

I recently went to a new place called The Violet Hour (1520 N. Damon Ave.; 773-252-1500 or I loved the old-fashioned drinks and the food was pretty good, too.

Restaurant Recommendations

Avec serves really cool food—and it’s a very fun place to eat (615 W. Randolph St.; 312-377-2002 or

TRU is super-high-end and dramatic, great for a special occasion. I like pastry chef Gale Gand’s desserts (676 N. Saint Clair St.; 312-202-0001 or

NoMI. Great spot to sit outside and have a drink (Park Hyatt Chicago, 7th Fl., 800 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-239-4030 or

Lula, in Logan Square, is a huge supporter of local agriculture, and it shows on their plates-really fresh, fabulous stuff (2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.; 773-489-9554 or

The Bluebird, in Bucktown, has a neighborhood bar feel, but the food will surprise you. They serve small plates and the vibe is relaxing (1749 N. Damen Ave.; 773-486-2473 or