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Feast Chicago: XOCO

March 8, 2012

The food at XOCO makes me angry that I live in Boston and can’t eat there more often. Typically restaurants where you order at a counter and find your own seats don’t have much to offer, and live in that “grab lunch to eat at your desk” realm, but XOCO breaks the mold. Specializing in Tortas – Mexican Sandwiches – Rick Bayless’ breakfast and lunch joint is friendly and focused on local ingredients.

We started with guacamole and house-made Limonata, a drink that tastes like the best version of a non-alcoholic Margarita. The guacamole, salsa, and salsa verde were great, but most notable were the chips. House-made chips can be dripping with grease, and you can always tell if they’ve been hanging around too long. These were still warm, not greasy, and had a distinct nutty flavor.

It was excruciating to choose just one sandwich, so Dave and I went halfsies on the Milanesa (Crispy Gunthorp chicken, black beans, artisan Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos, tomatillo-avocado salsa) and the Cochinita (Wood-roasted suckling pig with achiote, black beans, pickled onion, habanero). While both were great, the Cochinita edged out the win with its nod to the traditional steak sandwich. A Mexican pig bomb? Yes please.

It was all we could do to keep from ordering one of the amazing desserts (it was only 11am after all), which I now regret. If I’m ever back in Chicago, you can bet I’ll be gorging on Mexican chocolate soft serve with caramel sauce.

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