When thinking of where to get great Mexican food, Chicago probably isn’t the first city that comes to mind – but it should. Thanks to Rick Bayless and XOCO, the quick-service restaurant he opened in the heart of downtown, the way Chicago does Mexican food has been changed forever. The restaurant offers a variety of tortas (Mexican sub sandwiches), caldos (Spanish soups), empanadas, churros and housemade hot chocolates. All of which are unbelievably delicious! 

We arrived at XOCO around 7 pm and waited in line for about 30 minutes before ordering and finding seats. It was a very busy night but all the servers were remarkably friendly and more than willing to help get anything we needed including drink refills and additional utensils.

We started with an order of their chicharrones covered in Tamazula hot sauce and añejo cheese. I’m not sure why I haven’t had these tasty items together before but I sure wish I had! The hot sauce provided great flavor, balancing really well with the saltiness of the crunchy chicharrones - absolutely worthy of a visit all on its own. We also ordered their Almost Naked Guacamole – a definite must! Without a doubt, some of the best guacamole I’ve ever had – it was creamy and seasoned beyond perfection and served with freshly prepared chips. Their wonderful tomatillo and 3-chile salsas came served alongside their brilliant gauc, so good you will want to drizzle them over everything. The 3-chile provided an ideal amount of heat and the tomatillo had a delightful tartness. You have to literally force yourself to move onto your entrees. But don’t worry, they are also fantastic.
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Chicharrones covered in hot sauce and anejo cheese
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Guacamole with tomatillo and 3-chile salsas
For my main course I ordered their signature sandwich, the Ahogada Torta. Crusty toasted bread is stuffed with tender, juicy flavorful pork carnitas, black beans and spicy arbol chile sauce all swimming in a rich tomato broth – absolutely flawless! There’s no surprise why it’s on every Best-Of List including Food & Wine’s Best Sandwiches in the U.S. To wash down all this marvelousness I ordered one of their addictive limonadas – the ideal combination of sweet and tart. Make sure to ask for a refill in a to-go cup on your way out. Trust me, you’ll regret it if you don’t!
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The Ahogada Torta
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The Addictive Limonada
My lovely companion ordered the Cubana Torta. It consisted of smoked pork loin, bacon, black beans, avocado, artisan Jack cheese, chipotle mustard, Morita chiles, and cilantro crema all on griddled crusty bread. Hands down the best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever had! The depth of flavors are simply beyond compare.

For dessert we decided on an order of their fresh-from-the-fryer churros served alongside velvety Mexican dipping chocolate. They offer a variety of delectable churros including hazelnut, chocolate or pistachio glazed but we went for the original - chewy and simply incredible. XOCO is one of the only restaurants in the country who produces their own chocolate in house. And since there was still a definite chill in the air, a cup of their amazingly rich decadent hot chocolate was a must!
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Chewy Churro in Velvety Mexican Dipping Chocolate
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The Rich Hot Chocolate
I left with limonada in one hand, hot chocolate in the other and a belly full of perfectly prepared pork. Needless to say, it was a great night.

XOCO
449 N Clark St 
Chicago, IL 60654

www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html
XOCO on Urbanspoon
 


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