Modern Mexican Restaurant Alto Bajo Set for Portland Opening
Alto Bajo is Portland’s newest modern Mexican restaurant, opening early 2017. Situated at 300 SW Stark St., inside the historic Oregon Pioneer Building and adjacent to the highly anticipated Hi-Lo Hotel, Alto Bajo offers its guests an opportunity to experience traditional Mexican flavors in a modern way. The kitchen will be helmed by Michelin starred Moto alum Chef Chip Barnes and features a menu developed in collaboration with famed Oaxacan Chef Iliana de la Vega.
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, just steps away from the future site of the new James Beard Public Market, Alto Bajo will help shape the future of Portland dining. With the vision of Executive Chef Barnes, Alto Bajo will live up to its mantra: embrace tradition and expect atypical.
The menu delivers a balance of classic Mexican cuisine with the accents of contemporary style and Oaxacan influences. Highlights of the menu include:
Pig Ear “Al Pastor” Huarache: A blue corn masa flatbread served with pig ears sous vide in al pastor adobo, frijoles refritos, and pineapple
Pescado en Hoja de Platano: Washington sturgeon roasted in banana leaf, cilantro-chile butter, salsa rojo, heirloom tomato, and mashed plantain
An innovative beverage program will showcase and highlight both tequila and mezcal, offering pairings that are a fresh take on traditional Mexican cocktails. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as weekend brunch.
Chef Barnes developed the menu drawing on his love for authentic Mexican cuisine while integrating the bounty of fresh local products available in the Pacific Northwest. During menu development Chef Barnes travelled to Austin, Texas to collaborate with celebrated Chef, Iliana de la Vega (Restaurante El Naranjo – Oaxaca, Mexico and Austin, Texas).
“My approach to food is heavily influenced by my time in Chicago and Charleston. I focus on quality ingredients, and enjoy highlighting lesser known or overlooked ingredients in order to open people up to the vast range of things that are edible and delicious. I am excited to be in Portland because there is a wide variety of these off-the-wall ingredients to play with,” says Chef Barnes.
Chef Barnes career highlights include Moto Restaurant where he served as Executive Sous Chef under the tutelage of Chef Homaro Cantu. While at Moto, Chef Barnes added wine knowledge to his culinary palette, acquiring his Court of Masters Sommelier Level One certification. After leaving Moto, Barnes further developed his skills at several of Chicago's best restaurants including Next, Acadia, and Graham Elliott, receiving recognition for helping all three win Michelin Stars. He has spent the last two years working with James Beard Chef Jose Garces at Rural Society, learning wood-fire cooking techniques and Latin flavors.
Chef de la Vega, who is an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, has been featured on the cover of Bon Appetit and is frequently asked to make national appearances to chime in on various aspects of Latin American cooking and to help people understand Mexican food beyond tacos and Tex-Mex.