Chicago’s standout Mexican restaurant scene is a richly varied space featuring traditional taquerias and establishments experimenting with fusion. The latest addition to Fulton Market leans into the latter. Tabú, a pan Latin-inspired restaurant from Atomic Hospitality Group, the team behind Recess and Untitled Supper Club, is now open and ready to take your tastebuds on a world tour.
“Because Chicago has such a great food scene and has such pride in its traditional Mexican fare, it really challenged us to color outside the box,” says general manager Pepe Fernandez. “There’s so many sub-categories of Latin cuisine. It used to be…predominantly Spanish and Mexican. Now there’s Colombian, Peruvian, and Argentinian influences. It gives both our chefs and beverage specialists an opportunity to take their palate and go to places they haven’t gone before.”
This culinary passport translates into a menu tinged with global influences, such as shrimp po’boy tacos and Mexican pizza (that rivals even Taco Bell). “It’s a fun, modern twist on Latin cuisine,” Fernandez says. “When we were putting the menu together, we just wanted to make sure the Latin influence was there, but also wanted to have fun with it and have our own interpretations of everything.”
Italian, Spanish, and Southern American cuisines make guest appearances on Tabú’s menu, alongside a hearty collection of elegantly executed Mexican staples. “In the culture of Latin people we have a phrase, ‘Porque no?’ [Which means] why not create something different?” says executive chef Saúl Román, describing the Latin fusion menu.
Expect crispy octopus tacos on hand-pressed tortillas and stunning plates of hamachi ceviche with squid ink leche de tigre. More adventurous choices include the rattlesnake burger with a mole-like barbecue sauce and habañero aioli. But one thing’s for sure: despite its name, there’s nothing taboo about a restaurant that embraces bold flavors.
Tabú’s beverages are also heavy on the remixes. A riff on a Tequila Sunrise features carrot juice alongside the usual OJ while the Perfect Paloma is crafted with Tabú’s private barrel tequila. Fittingly, the bar boasts one of the largest mezcal and tequila collections in Chicago, which can be enjoyed on their own or via flight. “The old fashioned has been done so many times, but we made a twist between an Oaxacan old fashioned and traditional old fashioned,” says Fernandez, describing Tabú’s version of the classic cocktail, which features bourbon, mezcal, and blue corn syrup.
“A lot of restaurants are a one-time experience—and those are great and there’s a market for that—but we want to be that place where people come back for more,” Fernandez says. Alongside the memorable dishes, the vibrant decor will also entice you to return. In the sprawling 160-seat dining room, it’s impossible to miss the massive rope structure—each piece was individually measured and taped—adorning the ceiling. Colorful murals, a sunken lounge, and lush floral accents infuse a Mexico City vibe.
Tabú is now open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am, and Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm.