Alto Bajo is now open and ready to welcome diners as Portland’s newest modern Mexican restaurant. Situated at 310 SW Stark St., inside the historic Oregon Pioneer Building, Alto Bajo offers its guests an opportunity to experience traditional Mexican flavors in a modern way. The kitchen is helmed by Moto alum, Chip Barnes, and features a menu developed in collaboration with famed Oaxacan chef, Iliana de la Vega.
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Alto Bajo is sure to help shape the look of the Portland dining scene. Behind the vision of Chef Barnes, Alto Bajo hopes to live up to their mantra: Embrace Tradition. Expect Atypical. The menu delivers a balance of classic Mexican cuisine with the accents of contemporary style. Highlights of the menu include:
Mejillones Nayarit: Pacific Northwest mussels in a chile broth, with caramelized onions, cusumbers and gorditas
Sopes de Jabali: “Three Sisters” fried masa, wild boar chorizo, refried beans, queso fresco and cilantro crema
Fiesta de Moles: Unique moles from three different regions of Mexico
Chef Barnes developed the menu by drawing on his love for traditional Mexican cuisine, while integrating the bounty of fresh local products available in the Pacific Northwest. Cooking alongside chef Iliana de la Vega allowed Barnes an opportunity to push the boundaries, while maintaining certain traditions. As chef de la Vega states, “If you talk to me about authenticity, I don’t know what you mean. If you say tradition, then I’m with you.”
“My approach to food is heavily influenced by my time in Chicago and Charleston and focuses on quality ingredients. I 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 are a wide variety of these off-the-wall ingredients to play with,” says Chef Barnes.
Chef Barnes’ career highlights included tenure at Moto Restaurant, where he served as Executive Sous Chef under the tutelage of Chef Homaro Cantu. 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.
Alto Bajo will continue traditions with an innovative beverage program, which embraces and highlights both tequila and mezcal. Flights of mezcal, classically paired with Sal de Gusano salt and grapefruit, will help showcase the different regions of Oaxaca. Curated wines will both compliment the food, as well as offer a different look at parings with Mexican food. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as weekend brunch.