A few girls from work decided that an impromptu trip to Xoco, a local Rick Bayless restaurant, would be the perfect way to end a long work week. Our quick redline trip was foiled by a bank robber – yes, a bank robber AND a very obvious example as to why you don’t use public transportation as your getaway vehicle when you commit a crime (duh!) – so we trekked through the rain to the infamous lunch spot. Known for Chef Bayless’s complementary pepper combos as well as for their reservation refusals, the inside was as warm and cozy as I had imagined.
For a restaurant that doesn’t accept reservations, nary an eyebrow was raised when we mentioned that we had 8 guests for lunch. The service was sweet, welcoming and surprisingly quick. An ode to Mexican Street Food, the menu consists of a range of tortas and caldos and hot, crispy made-to-order churros. A Torta as I understand it refers to different things depending on the country, region and even the culture. Here it referred to a warm and delciious sandwich made with the most soft, chewy and buttery crisp bread, or telera I have ever experienced. The fillings ranged from garlic shrimp to traditional chipotle chicken, from tender flavorful short ribs to crunchy pork belly; all topped with a delicious local jack cheese and an assortment of peppered spreads or salsas. It was amazing.
Woodland Mushroom: Wood-roasted garlic mushrooms, Prairie Farm goat cheese, black beans, wild arugula, 3-chile salsa.
Pepito: Braised Tallgrass shortribs, caramelized onion, artisan Jack, black beans, pickled jalapenos. $12.00
Pork Belly Vermicelli (Fideos): Crispy-tender pork belly, toasty-tender noodles, woodland mushrooms, zucchini, avocado, salsa negra