Restaurant Reviews: Xoco (by Rick Bayless) in Chicago, IL

Today, I got to visit the great city of Chicago. Upon arrival I was eager to go have lunch at one of the Rick Bayless‘ restaurants. As you know, we’re great fans of his work with Mexican food, love for the culture, and we sell his Frontera Gourmet Mexican Salsas at All three restaurants Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco are right next to each other on the corner of Illinois Street and North Clark Street in downtown Chicago. From the outside, all 3 look very appealing.

Topolobampo & Frontera Grill Chicago
Topolobampo & Frontera Grill Chicago

My choice, however, was for Xoco, since I was in for a quick late lunch. Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are both restaurants where you can take your time to have a nice long lunch with outstanding service.

Xoco Restaurant Chicago
Xoco Restaurant Chicago

Xoco Restaurant
449 North Clark Street (enter on Illinois St.)
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312-334-3688

The word “Xoco” comes from the ancient Aztec language in Mexican slang for “little sister”. Upon entrance at Xoco you get to see the open kitchen with all fresh ingredients. The colors and atmosphere offers contemporary expressions of Mexico’s craved foods you would have at your favorite street stand or local restaurant. As you get in line, you look up to the wall where the menu is written on a chalkboard featuring the main dishes: Woodburning oven cooked Tortas (Mexican submarine sandwiches) or also prepared on the grill; made-to-order Caldos (meal-in-a-bowl soups); Salads and other side dishes; as well as empanadas, churros and hot chocolate if you are in for the sweet tooth.

I couldn’t help it, I kept getting nostalgic feelings of Guadalajara when I chose Torta Ahodaga, which are tortas with golden pork carnitas, black beans, tomato broth, spicy arbol chile sauce, pickled onions served on artisan bread called birote. The dish was $9.50 and well worth every penny! And to go along with my torta, I had Agua Fresca de Jamaica (made from hibiscus flowers).

Tortas Ahogadas at Xoco Restaurant
Tortas Ahogadas at Xoco Restaurant

During my meal I enjoyed looking over the blue and yellow tone walls with decorative antique-styled pictures of ranchos (large grazing farm typically outside main towns) and it’s gardens. I also received a taste of Mexico with the warmth of its music. All together, it was a perfect authentic Mexican meal with fantastic and friendly service.

Xoco is Highly Recommended.

1 Comment

  1. Torta ahogada with Jamaica, I’m hungry now! Too bad I’m in the West coast but I would love to get my mouth on one of those some day.

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