Monday, June 7, 2010

a stop at Xoco

The other day, my husband and I ventured downtown to watch a Cubs vs.Cardinals game. On our way to the game, I thought it would be nice to do a side trip to get some Chicago food.. Originally, I wanted to hit a Garrett's popcorn and a Rick Bayless restaurant. After checking the maps, train times, and restaurant reservations, it boiled down to me getting one stop in before hitting the ole ball park that afternoon. I used my time wisely, and figured out I can order me some Garrett's popcorn online,while I only get a chance once in a while without the little one along to eat a place where I WANT to eat at.

After being shell-shocked by the next earliest reservation time at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, which was about 2 weeks out, I decided to modify my plans to eating as Rick Bayless' newest little restaurant, XOCO. I guess I should have done my homework a little bit more than just a few days before, but I was hoping a lunchtime reservation would have been easier to come by than evening time. Guess not! Oh, well. Another time, I guess :) XOCO offers some delicious Mexican street food and snacks, such as tortas, churros, salads, soups in the evening, and freshly ground Mexican hot chocolate. I wish I would have got a cup of hot chocolate reflecting back now on my visit to XOCO, but it was just a bit too warm out that day for me to enjoy it for its worth. Later on that afternoon, as I was sitting in the shade at Wrigley, kinda chilly with the north wind of the lake, I really could have used that hot cup of chocolate then!!

What did we order then? To drink, I had a glass of sparkling water with limes in it; yeah, I know, kinda boring, but refreshing on a warm Chicago afternoon. While we waited for a little bit in line for our table, the hostess came by asking if we'd like a starter of chips/salsa/guacamole, so of course, I said yes! I really wanted the guac, so that was our first course :) Next, after enjoying my Frontera chips/guac, we only waited for about 10-15 minutes, and our table was ready, so we could go up to the counter and final put our order in! So the next big decisions, my husband and I shared a XOCO Salad and a torta. The salad, which we picked grilled chicken as the protein instead of the pork, was paired with black beans, lettuce and arugula, all tossed in an avocado-lime dressing with some crispy tortilla shreds on top. hmmm . The other Mexican sandwich was the Cubana Torta, which consisted of a thinly sliced smoked pork loin, with bacon, black beans, avocado, cheese, and alight chipotle mustard. Oh, and to finish it off, I had to order my churro! It was freshly-made to order with about 5-10 minutes of the meal left, when we informed the server of the churro, and she put the order in so that it could come out prepared nice, hot and fresh. Wow. Everything was so crispy,crunchy, flavorful. It was so good, and the combination of all the flavors were just right. The salsas were a bit on the spicy side form, but tolerable in small doses :) I am a mild salsa girl usually,so these were more on the medium to hot side.

We definitely got there before the big noon rush that day as it was crawling outside the door and spilling onto the sidewalk. When we left, the hostess told those people, the wait for a table was about an hour at that point. Overall, I was pretty excited by the experience, even though I really wanted to eat at Frontera, XOCO hit the spot. XOCO is a cute little restaurant that probably only seats maybe 40-50 or so people, and does fill up fast, but it appeared the wait times were nothing for those who wanted a taste of Rick Bayless' work.

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