XOCO | Chicago
Tortas (Mexican sandwiches), chocolate (xoco), and churros (fried dough) is what Rick Bayless’s casual place adjoining Frontera is all about.
Huevos Rancheros (4/5): “2 eggs, roasted tomato-serrano sauce, corn tortillas black beans, homemade fresh cheese.” Eggs and salsa really make the dish delicious, and the corn tortilla with black bean paste
Churros: (4.5/5). Well done. I don’t particular like donuts, but this was relatively non-greasy, crispy, and coated in delicious chocolate flecked sugar. Technically, excellent.
Chocolate drinks are fantastic at XOCO – in fact they give the restaurant its name! They grind their cacao nibs fresh. These are some of the best chocolate drinks I’ve ever had.
Authentic (4.75/5): “Fresh-ground Chocolate + Water”
Aztec (5/5): “fresh-ground chocolate + water + chile + allspice” A spicy sour-tinge in this chocolate gives it a kick above the normal authentic
Iced Chocolate with Bayless Garden Mint (5/5). As perfect a mint chocolate as I’ve ever had. Cacao nibs mixed with actual mint leaves. Rich, and delicious.
Chipotle Chicken Torta (4/5): Gunthorp chicken, chipotle-roasted tomato sauce, artisan Jack cheese, avocado, black beans, arugula. A good chicken sandwich, if a bit spicy.
Pork Belly Torta (3.5/5): Dark salsa negra glaze, bacon, arugula, queso anejo. A bit too sparing on the pork, you can taste more of the bacon strips in this one.
Chicharrones (5/5): Chicharrones, Tamazula hot sauce, queso añejo, onions, cilantro. Chicarrones is pig skin, seasoned and deep fried. The chicarrones here is fluffy. In Singapore, if we don’t roast our pig skin to a crisp (roasted fatty pork, pork knuckle or suckling pig), we usually eat it wet with yong tau foo. This is one of the few time’s I’ve eaten crispy yet fluffy pig skin.
Ahogada Torta (4.25/5): “Golden pork carnitas, black beans, tomato broth, spicy arbol chile sauce, pickled onions.” Make a crispy sandwich pork. Promptly dump it in a spicy chili-tomato soup. You get a delicious mess that is hard to eat. I was surprised the sandwich didn’t fall apart in my hands.
Special mention must be made of the salsa, which is also made on Rick Bayless’s rooftop. A rooftop in Chicago, apparently. Now, rooftop gardens are all the rage. Gracie’s in Providence once carted a lot of soil up Peerless Lofts to make fresh herbs.
Verdict: Frontera’s sandwich cousin. Sandwiches are good here, but the real stars are the chocolate, churros, and chicharrones.
Chipotle Chicken sandwich 1,
Chipotle Chicken sandwich 2,
Iced Chocolate w/ Mint,
Pork Belly sandwich 1,
Pork Belly sandwich 2,