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Culinary Adventures in a College Kitchen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This weekend my mom visited for a girl's weekend. I love when my mom comes to visit. We spend some quality time together; my laundry gets done; and I finally get to eat out at all the places I've dreamed of going to but was too cheap to actually frequent. Moms rock.

Xoco is one those places that I have stayed up late at night fantasizing about but had never actually pulled the trigger and visited. Well, it seemed like the perfect place to take Mom-sie on Saturday.

Xoco is an off-shoot of Rick Bayless' infamous Frontera Grill. It focuses on the different street foods from Mexico, served up hot and quickly in the homey dining area. All orders can be customized, keeping with the "rustic immediacy" of authentic Median street food, and are delivered to the table in record time.

We got there around 1:30 and there was still an hour wait for lunch. Both of us agreed that this appeared to be worth the wait and we took our place in line.

Surprisingly, the wait when by pretty quickly. There was so much going on inside the restaurant that I felt like I was constantly entertained. You could see pretty much the entirety of the kitchen from the line. There was a wood oven where the tortas were made. I could even see where the carnitas were being made!

Carnitas simmering away!

A chef working on the churros. Didn't get any but they looked amazing!

They also had Rick Bayless' cookbooks out for customers to peruse, as well as large chalkboards outlining the restaurant's sustainable practices.

Another thing I really liked about Xoco was the free flat and sparkling water offered for customers. An hour is a pretty long time to wait and I really appreciated the water. I think I had about four glasses while I was waiting. Dehydration is awesome.

I ended up ordering the Cubana sandwich which is described as:

Smoked Gunthorp pork loin and bacon, black beans, avocado, artisan Jack, and chipotle mustard.

My mom had the carnitas which I didn't snap a picture of but it looked good. It was like a hearty soup with lots of cilantro. My cilantro-hating-self was happy with my cilantro-less order.

We also shared chips and salsa which were pretty fantastic.

Xoco was absolutely fantastic. The food was good. The service was fast. If you are in Chicago, you have to try it! Just make sure to factor in the wait time.

I have a quick question for all of you--Saturday made me realize that I eat out at a lot of fun Chicago restaurants. Would you be interested in a Chicago restaurant series?


  1. Oh my! This is my idea of a Saturday spend in heaven! I wish I could lick the Cubana sandwich off of my computer screen. To answer the question; yes, I would absolutely love to read about Chicago restaurants. It's a virtual food trip! :)

  2. Eating at Xoco moderately priced, afternoon shopping and dinner at Fred's (top floor of Barneys) slightly more expensive. Weekend with daughter PRICELESS. Love, Momsie

  3. What a fabulous place? But seriously, no churros???? Whats that about daaahling? I think you need to go back ;)
    *kisses* HH

  4. Haha, I am definitely planning on going back. We were just too full to get them that time!