advertisement

Yes, you can order guacamole and chips and it will be tasty. But the Mexican food here, whipped up by famed Oaxacan chef Iliana de la Vega and Chicago-import Chip Barnes (of the Windy City’s acclaimed Moto restaurant), rewards adventurous diners, those willing to try lesser-known Mexican specialties, like a dip made from pumpkinseed, habanero, garlic and grapefruit juice (sounds weird but it’s sensational). The moles at Alto Bajo are also really special. We suggest sampling all three of them with some tortillas: Mole Tamarindo (an earthy chocolate-based sauce made with tamarind and sesame seeds), Mole Amarillo (an Oaxacan specialty made with dry chiles, onions and garlic), and the fiery Mole Rojo (made from onions, chile peppers, ground hazelnuts, sesame seeds and a bit of chocolate). Alto Bajo opened in 2017 in the Hi-Lo Hotel, in a room that’s suave enough for business travelers (leather booths, gleaming wood floors) but with enough funky touches—towering potted cacti, straw lighting fixtures, sexy Mexican art—to match the soulful cooking.