Xoco (Restaurant, River North)
Location: 449 N. Clark
Reservation: Not accepted
It’s all about the Mexican steet fare at this River North offshoot of the Rick Bayless’s more and more colonial-seeming culinary empire. There are weird rules – no soup before 3 PM, no reservations, a strange place-card table-holding system that defies quick explanation – and there are often ridiculous lines. But there is also some of the most delicious, hearty, satisfying, and *SHUDDER* authentic Mexican street food this side of the Rio Grande (I’ve always wanted to say that). Like other Bayless outposts the ingredients are local, organic, and sustainable wherever possible, so expect veggies from Three Sisters, City Farms, and other Green City Market staples as well as meat from Gunthorp and cheese from Prairie Fruit.
The “Ahogada” torta with deliciously stringy golden-fried carnitas, pickled onions, black beans, and avocado on fresh Labriola bread cut in half and dunked in a bowl of incendiarily hot tomato/vinegar broth is a winner. The pepito is also great with Braised Tallgrass shortribs, caramelized onion, artisan Jack cheese, black beans, pickled jalapenos. Don’t leave without trying the fresh homemade desserts and churros and roasted-in-house hot cocoa.
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