Rick Bayless Announces New Chicago Restaurant Opening Next Door to His Brewery

Rick Bayless just announced the opening of a new seafood restaurant inspired by Baja California cuisine

Chef Bayless is known for his Mexican cuisine, but this is a step in a slightly different direction.

Celebrity chef Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, etc.) just announced the opening of a new seafood- and wine-focused restaurant adjoined to his brewery and taquería, Cruz Blanca Cervecería, which opened just last year in Chicago.

Although Bayless is known for his Oaxaca-style Mexican cuisine, the new restaurant, Leña Brava (which means something like "wild firewood"), will be focused on Baja California-inspired seafood and wines, with a bar dedicated to that popular Mexican spirit mescal.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the northern part of Baja California over the last decade,” chef Bayless said in a Facebook post announcing the new spot. “There are amazing wineries there, ones that keep winning awards everywhere. And there’s incredible seafood, and chefs who have risen up to join the ranks of the world’s best. And what ties all of them together is the grill, the hearth, the wood-fired oven. The primal, artless quality of what they’re feeding people.”

Bayless goes on to briefly describe what customers can expect from the new menu including “gorgeous yellowtail and opah and sea urchin and abalone” cooked in a “100 percent woodfired oven,” with a wine menu filled with bottles from the Valle de Guadalupe, Baja's (and Mexico's) premium wine country.


Bayless has not yet announced Leña Brava’s opening date.