XOXO for XOCO by Rick Bayless
I had noticed Rick Bayless’ famous beginnings at Clark and Illinois one evening while making a visit to the infamous Baton Club across the street. As Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are closed on Sunday nights, we couldn’t take in the dinner experience. I did make it a priority to have breakfast at XOCO (Aztec for “Little Sister”) before I left one of my favorite cities. The following morning we jumped out of bed on a mission, XOCO only serves breakfast until 10:30AM so we threw ourselves together and ran up north to scope it out.
XOCO is no mistake. This place has a rich story and it’s completely green. I’m not talking walls in the hue of chartreuse. The establishment has a LEED Gold Certification and it’s proud to invite you into it’s open kitchen where they were roasting Pasilla Chilies while we were waiting for our order. It’s a Cafe/Cafeteria style place where you go up and place your order and take a number to your selected table. XOCO like so many Chicago eateries has a very inviting sidewalk terrace with designer plant boxes. it was a bit cool that morning so we chose a seat inside.
We ordered a Ham and Cheese Empanada, Choriqueso Torta (Scrambled Egg Chorizo and Avocado) and the inseparable Fresh Churros and Mexican Hot Chocolate which are XOCO’s staple treats made completely from scratch all day long. Can you believe that XOCO grinds it’s own Cacao Beans right there in the front window to make their Hot Chocolate? XOCO serves Intelligentsia Coffees; another one of Chicago’s favorites.
Our breakfast was delivered by one of the chefs and was absolutely beautiful. The Churros in the shape of a ribbon were almost too cute to eat. Hot Chocolate the consistency of creme anglaise and so perfectly chocolatey that a chocoholic would need to run screaming to a recovery meeting after just one sip. The Hot Empanada was a complete surprise, chunks of ham and queso amidst a spicy salsa and flaky crust sprinkled with a salty dry cheese. The Torta was served on a grilled hard roll with a side of green tomatillo salsa. Now the truly memorable part of the whole experience is dipping the Hot Churros in the fantasmagical Hot Chocolate.
I can tell you it was worth getting out of bed early for this experience. Run, don’t walk to XOCO, whether you’ve had time to shower and primp or not. You won’t regret it.
449 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654