Topolobampo is excellent, I’ve eaten there a couple of times. Sepia? Not much of a fan, but then we weren’t exactly treated like royalty, or potential presidential candiates, when we dined there.
The Obamas’ favorite spot for a night out in Chicago is the alta cocina Mexican restaurant Topolobampo, according to Michelle Obama spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld. For a simpler bite, the Obamas turn to RJ Grunts, a cartoony Lincoln Park emporium of burgers, ribs and Tex-Mex standards, the spokeswoman says. On her own, Mrs. Obama has favored the more cutting-edge food at Sepia in the trendy West Loop neighborhood near the atelier of her suddenly famous dressmaker, Maria Pinto.
[snip] The WSJ’s Raymond Sokolov is a fan of Chicago dining:
Altogether more interesting on the Obamas’ dining list is Topolobampo, Rick Bayless’s superb little shrine to the full panoply of Mexico’s cuisine. We have eaten there happily for years, enjoying its authentic, even scholarly versions of classic dishes such as chilaquiles and Yucatecan roast pork. Topolobampo (named after a Mexican port) is one of the reasons we think Chicago is arguably America’s top eating city, with fewer high-end addresses than New York but a more stellar, dramatic pantheon.
From its diverse and creative menu, Topolobampo says, Sen. Obama often orders sopa azteca, a dark broth flavored with pasilla chilies, grilled chicken, avocado, Meadow Valley Farm handmade Jack cheese, thick cream and crisp tortilla strips.
Sepia, the potential first lady’s glam West Loop haunt (she ate there last Saturday), was new territory for us. We started out with one of the restaurant’s signature flatbreads, this one topped with applewood-smoked bacon, chunks of pear and crumbled blue cheese. We also sampled the ethereally smooth and densely flavored chilled carrot puree with chive cream swirled on its mirrory surface.
As a nostalgic Great Lakes native, we were thrilled to find Sepia offered walleyed pike, moist and fresh as the northern waters from which it came, dressed up with wild mushrooms and a cashew vinaigrette. Other fresh and naturally produced items on the menu included elite Berkshire pork and artisanal domestic cheeses. If Mrs. Obama has the chance to encourage this kind of food in the White House and can get Mr. Bayless to bring a Mexican touch to state dinners, the Obama administration would be a golden era for American gastronomy.