Friday, June 25, 2010

XOCO: Chicago, IL

{Wood burning oven toasting some tortas}
OK... last Chicago entry I promise!

On our very last day in Chicago, we had a few hours to kill before jetting back to California. What should we do? Hmm... why not find a cool place to eat and chill at? We decided to head back to one of Rick Bayless's place, XOCO which is next door to Frontera Grill. I think the open wood burning oven that greets you upon arrival is such a nice touch, its welcoming and just beckons at you to wonder what it is thats toasting away.

{Aquas frescas}
{Cucumber, lime and mint aqua fresca}
I decided to get the cucumber, lime and mint aqua fresca and a Choriqueso torta. The torta was rich, very well seasoned... a really nice combination of the chorizo and roasted poblano with the salsa. I'm not a fan of  once hot gooey cheese that turns room temperature and gummy. It's just the texture combined with the temperature that gets me so I wasn't so crazy about this torta by the end but EHK still really enjoyed it. The aqua fresca was a cool delight. Sipping away, it reminds me of a beautiful summer day.

{Choriqueso torta: Homemade chorizo sausage, roasted poblano, artisan jack cheese, tomatillo salsa}
{Pibil torta: Wood-roasted suckling pig with achiote, black beans, pickled onion, habanero salsa}
EHK decided to be daring and get the Pibil with the habanero salsa! Pork is a our friend especially in the form of a roasted suckling pig :). Another sandwich with some really nice flavors but the salsa, I dare say was too much for him to handle and I remember him gulping down his aqua fresca and then trying to steal some of mine. So stay away from the habanero salsa unless you can handle the heat or don't mind trying to put out a fire.

{Homemade Mexican vanilla soft serve}
For dessert, a plate of freshly made churros and vanilla soft serve. Though you have to order and pay for everything upfront, the staff was really nice about lagging on preparing the desserts so it wouldn't just be sitting around while we were eating the savory stuff. Again, the churros were a nice treat like we had after dinning at Frontera Grill and we saw all these people dipping their churros into a cup of soft serve so naturally we followed suite. The fragrant warm crispy pastry with cool vanilla soft serve combined is lovely treat... like an inside out  fried ice cream.

{Hibiscus and lemongrass aqua fresca}
{Seafood caldo: Shrimp, mussels, catfish, red chile broth, potatoes, grilled knob onions, pea shoots, cilantro, lime}
We stuck around for the caldos to be served since we still had some time. This time we ordered a hibiscus and lemon grass aqua fresca and seafood caldo. I love the crimson hue of this aqua fresca and the sweet tartness makes you pucker a little and awakens you. Seafood caldo came out piping hot and full of seafood goodies. The catfish nuggets were my favorite part of the soup and the lime did the job of helping to cut some flavorful broth.

We couldn't have asked for a better way to end our stay in Chicago than with this last visit. We definitely had a lot of great eats and sight seeing. I can't wait for a chance to come back again.

449 North Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Tu–Th: 7am–9pm
F: 7am–10pm
Sa: 8am–10pm
Su–M: Closed

* Breakfast served until 10:00AM
* 10:30AM to 11AM: Pastries and beverages only
* Tortas served after 11AM
* Caldos (soups) served after 3PM
* Churros served all day
* Takeout for breakfast (until 10:30AM) and after 3PM.  Beverages and pastries are always available for takeout.


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