Get ready for a new Mexican restaurant chain from the one and only Rick Bayless. The Chicago-based celebrity chef, after joining forces with super-popular Filipino fast chain Jollibee a little over a year ago, will debut a new fast-casual chain named Tortazo. The first is slated to open in Catalog, the Willis Tower’s new food hall, next month.
“Tortazo is an evolution of Tortas Frontera that you can find at the airport,” Bayless writes. “Rather than just open more tried-and-true Tortas Fronteras, we decided to spend the last year re-evaluating exactly what we have there and come out with a 2.0 version that we hope to be able to replicate in big cities across the country.”
The first location of the counter-service chain will offer a menu of his acclaimed tortas, soups, salads, and bowls, plus adding chilaquiles, Xoco’s popular churros, and a larger cocktail program. It will be open during lunch and dinner hours seven days week inside Chicago’s tallest building. The space, decorated with colorful artwork, will have a 77-seat dining room, a seven-seat full bar with margaritas, mezcal Negronis and mezcal Old Fashioneds and more, an open kitchen, and a lounge for to-go and mobile ordering pickup.
Bayless’ group is already looking for more locations in Chicago. In the future, he says they’re “planning for ambitious growth in other cities, but that will come later.”
The superstar chef says he picked the Loop’s iconic Willis Tower for his first location because it’s “filled with a mix of locals and tourists, and they’re all looking to eat well, and eat quickly.” As previously reported, Catalog, the massive five-story food hall starting on the ground floor, will also include Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, and more. A new addition, Lettuce Entertain You’s Sushi-San, will also open a location there, a news release announced on Thursday.
Stay tuned for more details on the first Tortazo, where more might open, and on Catalog. The Tribune first reported this story.