Monday, April 23, 2012


With 5 restaurants, including 1 at O'Hare International Airport and the Macy's flagship store off the Magnificent Mile, in addition to the title of "Top Chef Master," Rick Bayless is a Chicago based chef with quite the empire on his hands.  Who knew a guy from the Midwest could master Mexican cuisine and elevate it to the next level.  Granted, I didn't get to try that "next level," which I imagine is what Topolobampo represents given the $$$$ price rating on Yelp.  Xoco actually represents the other end of the dining spectrum, being a casual joint focused on tortas and caldos, or sandwiches and soups/stews.  It made the perfect lunch spot!

La Prive and Dumpling Man were able to step away from their educational endeavors to meet me at Xoco for lunch.  Lucky for us the line was only up to the door instead of out the door.  We probably waited a good 15-20 minutes before getting to order and get a table.

Chips, Guacamole, Salsa tomatillo and 3 chile salsa
Nothing too special here, but you can't have a Mexican lunch without this.

Chipotle Chicken gunthorp chicken, chipotle-roasted tomato sauce, artisan Jack cheese, avocado, black beans, arugula
Leave it to Dumpling Man to get the most ordinary torta.  It was delicious nonetheless.

Ahogada golden pork carnitas, black beans, tomato broth, spicy arbol chile sauce, pickled onions
I really liked my choice.  The carnitas were shredded and tender with a good amount of caramelization of seasoning on the exterior pieces.  The whole sandwhich was dunked in this spicy tomato sauce/broth.  So each bite was juicy from the meat and soaked in tomato broth.  It was one delicious bite after the next.  I could not finish it.

Homemade Mexican Vanilla Soft-Serve salted caramel sauce, maple pecan bacon streusel
Dumpling Man could not stop raving about the soft serve here, but honestly speaking the soft serve wasn't the true star.  It was that maple pecan bacon streusel.  Holy crap that sh*t was delicious!  Salty, sweet, buttery, crumbly.  Probably one of the most delicious ice cream toppings ever made.

Sadly, my churro picture didn't come out.  But it looks like any other churro and just as delicious.  La Prive really liked 'em and helped himself to an extra serving or two.  It's ok, he surfs like crazy when he's not saving hearts, and the ladies simply cannot keep their hands off his chiseled body.  Xoco is a great lunch spot, but be prepared for a wait and keep in mind it's closed on Mondays.  The churro and soft serve are a must.  If you don't fall in love with the maple pecan bacon streusel than you are certainly crazy.  Next time I'd love to try a caldo.  Overall, I doubt you could really go wrong here.  Oh, and my friend order some sandwiches and took them to go but it was cold when she ate it.  Don't do that!  Eat it while it's hot!

449 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL  60654


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