When my Mom and Aunt were in town last week, I mentioned that it might be fun to brave the crowds and check out Rick Bayless‘ new spot XOCO.  Aunt Sandy, immediately said “the guy that won Top Chef Masters?  Do you think he will be there?”  We made plans to go the next day.  And after seeing him post a picture on Twitter from the line, a mere hour before we planned to go, I knew that Sandy would be excited because we would have a little “celebrity chef sighting.”

XOCO did not disappoint.  We went on the 3rd day that they were open and had to wait maybe 40 minutes to get to the counter to order.  But since you can watch everything being prepared on the line and see Rick plate dishes, the time passed quickly.  We ordered chips and guacamole, a side salad, each got a torta, Sandy and I each tried a bean-to-cup chocolate and we finished with the amazing churros.

I ordered the “Gunthorp Chicken” Torta which came with wood-roasted red chile chicken, caramelized onion, black beans, avocado, tomatillo salsa. My mom and Sandy but got the “Cochinita Pibil” Torta which came with wood-roasted suckling pic with achiote, black beans, pickled onion, habanero. My mom and I traded a half of each so I got to try both and I couldn’t pick a favorite because they were so delicious. We got the habanero on the side in case it was too hot, and it was hot, but when you added just a dab to the torta, the other flavors started to pop.

Nothing tasted heavy, the portions were perfect and the flavors magical. Everyone should try XOCO. The Tortas range from $8.50 to $12.00 and the churros are 3 for $3 bucks, less than an overpriced trendy cupcake. I can’t wait to go back in the evening and try a one of the Caldos. the “Pork Belly Vermicelli (Fideos)”/crispy-tender pork belly, toasty-tender noodles, woodland mushrooms, zucchini, avocado, salsa negra sounds particularly wonderful. Or for breakfast to try the Savory Bread Pudding (ham, poblano, cheese) or the Poblano-Scrambled Egg Empanadas.

Also, don’t be deterred by the line that will likely be out the door for quite sometime. Go when you have a little extra time, and watch the action behind the line while you pore over the menu and decide what to order. Make sure to stick your nose near the churros/chocolate area near the ordering counter. Amazing. We went around noon on the 3rd day that they were open: ordered within 45 minutes, and were finished eating, taking our time by 1:30. Not bad at all.

449 North Clark Street (enter on Illinois), Chicago
Open Tuesday-Saturday 7AM to 10PM

See all my XOCO pictures here.

8 responses to “XOCO

  1. What great pics, Whitney! So cool that Rick was there. 🙂 It sounds *amazing;* I’d love to visit Chicago just to visit each of his restaurants. Churros and bean-to-cup chocolate sounds like the perfect thing to top off your meal. -Amy

  2. So wishing I lived in Chicago right now so I could go eat there! Your pics are fabulous and I’m so jealous you saw Rick Bayless! Next time I’m in the windy city, I am definitely eating there! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ah! We were there at the same time!!!! Crazy small world. I loved it.

  4. Gah! I’m jealous! I need to go. This is getting ridiculous. I can’t believe I’ve lived in this city for more than a year and so far have only been to like two foodie restaurants. For shame.

  5. I am SO jealous! I’ve been talking about wanting to visit one of Rick’s restaurants for a while but I live in New England so I need to plan a trip 🙂 Thanks for the review!

  6. after watching rick on top chef, i became his new #1 fan! can’t wait to check this out next time i’m back home in chicago. just the thought of churros and chocolate is making me crazy. 🙂

  7. Such a fan of Rick Bayless, he seems like such the class act. His cookbooks are all winners, and it looks like his food is even better in person!

  8. AH! So jealous! Looks absolutely fantastic and I hope to visit soon.

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