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Xoco

Anyone brave enough, and fought the opening day mayhem and Oprah traffic to Xoco today? Tell us your stories. Thinking of stopping by for churros and ciocolate for breakfast tomorrow morning.

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  1. Yes! We went to Xoco yesterday and made it around 5.30pm just before larger crowds showed up for dinner time. The place is small, so seating is limited, especially if you prefer a table. There's more high top seating and there were a lot of people eating solo there.
    Rick was also there working away in the kitchen so fun to see him. We each had a sandwich from the wood burning oven- I had the Gunthrop chicken and my husband had the Conchinita Pibil and then we split a bowl of the Seafood Caldos- which was amazing! We also had some churros for dessert- fantastic. Definitely recommend you stop by although for those going at peak hours- as it filled up, they had to stop taking orders as the kitchen was getting backed up and there were no open seats, but I think as they get through the first couple days, that should improve.
    Did you end up stopping by for breakfast today?

    1. I was there for breakfast yesterday a.m. A first day's performance isn't wise to judge - it'll take a while for the restaurant to find it's "legs." i will say that, judging by my meal, there's a lot of work to be done on preparation, quality and delivery. My relatively small breakfast cost approx. $15 - pricy for what's served and, yesterday, not worth it. No doubt the restaurant will be a success, but let's hope it's successful because it offers good food and not only because it's owned by Bayless. And, yes, the "groupies" were out in force, but didn't overwhelm the place.

      1. stopped by on Wednesday, day 2, at 10am for a midmorning snack. Little to no line, although it did take about 10-15 minutes to get my empanada. Empanada was good if not piping hot. Churro was nicely crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with a nice coating of sugar and what seemed like chocolate bits. Hot chocolate was the highlight, and at $2, a bargain.

        I'd say it's a step up from Frontera Fresca in Macy's food court in terms of boldness of ingredients, with essentially the same service/setup

        Service is definitely a work in progress, but it is a nice place.

        1. I finally made it to breakfast this morning. Took a detour on my way to work, and had to drag DH out of bed. There was a flurry of activity when we got there, but overall the vibe was nice and relaxed. It was 7:30 in the morning! The wine guy at Bin 36 was there having breakfast, and we had a nice chat about the dining scene in the neighborhood.

          I got the Savory Bread Pudding (been having a craving since hearing about it at Nightwood, and then it wasn’t on the menu when we made it there). DH had the Empanada. We shared the 3-piece plate of Churros. I also had the Aztec chocolate (chile+allspice), he had the Ultra (whole milk). The Pudding was dense and eggy and has a very nicely crisped top. My mother-in-law makes very good egg strata (she’s an excellent cook in general), and DH declared Xoco’s as good as his mother’s. The Empanada was good and flaky, but reminds me too much of the breakfast bao at Wow Bao. I mean, was this conceived solely to have scrambled eggs in a traditional ethnic food package? The Churros are crispy, light and airy; unlike the mainly fried dough varieties other places have. My only quip is the heavy hand on the sprinkled cinnamon/chocolate sugar. Perhaps that can be requested on the side.

          So food-wise, for breakfast, everything was good. The knockouts are the chocolates. If Xoco was any closer to home or work, I might seriously think of skipping the daily cup of Intelligentsia and have the chocolate instead. The liquid was grainy and thick, which I prefer much more than the smooth Godiva kind. The Ultra was very rich and creamy. The Aztec would be perfect for a brisk cold morning. You taste the spices very subtly on the finish. At one point I even thought I was maybe drinking mole sauce.

          The space seems a little bit awkward. When it was the furniture store, somehow it didn’t seem as narrow as it is now. The seating area is the most awkward, and putting the utility space in the middle of the room was just not the smartest choice. There are still a few opening issues to work out. Everything is listed on chalkboards, and some prices listed are not the same when rang up at the register. Luckily, it was cheaper. They are still not offering carry-out for lunch and dinner. The seating is not the most desirable, having mostly bar counters, and only 2 short banquettes (one on the side and one at the back wall).

          Overall, Xoco is a good place for breakfast if you are in proximity. The chocolates are a revelation and worth the trip. Now on to lunch or dinner one of these days.

              1. re: santana104

                I've been to the restaurant twice - and both times what I ordered was sub-par and over-priced for the skimpy portions served. The cochinita pibil, in particular (which is mentioned in the article twice linked, above), was not a good sandwich - unless you want to pay $12 for what's mostly a bread roll ( a good roll, but a bit over-priced at $12 for bread). Sandwich/torta portions are unacceptably small and the bread overwhelmes ingredients. The pickeled onions were a standout on that sandwich. Given the mostly long-wait times and the 15-20 minute wait for the order, and tight seating, or standing, and high prices for small portions - I don't think it's a very good choice for a meal. I do think the caldos may be the standout of the food portion of the menu but doubt I will return to the restaurant to be "fooled" for a third time. Just because it's a Bayless restaurant doesn't necessarly equate to the food being good or well served or presented as a good value. For those of you who enjoy the high prices/small portions - good for you, you have a place to enjoy.

                1. re: gomexico

                  Like others have said elsewhere. It's all subjective.

              2. Still haven't made it for lunch or dinner. FWIW, according to Dish, they have decided not to offer carry out.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ms. chow

                  Went for lunch yesterday with my team. Trick is to get there before 11:20am, and 10 minutes later, you see line going out the door. Out of all sandwiches, the best bang for the buck, IMO, is Ahodaga -- pulled pork torta that comes resting on a tomato-chile broth. Other teammates got the Gunthorp and Milanesa. They come with 'matching' salsas, but apart from the gourmet-sounding ingredients, there was nothing that really justfied to me that you should pay $10 for the sandwiches. Chips&Salsa ($3) and Guacamole ($4) are nothing out of this world, but might order them as sides for lunch. My money is still on the Ahogada.

                  1. re: choongster

                    Seeing only one or two people in line at the restaurant, and after watching a pastry chef making blackberry tarts in the front window - I stopped-in to have one of the tarts and a cup of the hot chocolate ... yesterday on my way back to the office following lunch.

                    I had the "Classic" chocolate (made with 2% milk) because the restaurant(s) didn't have any whole milk, needed to make the "Ultra" chocolate drink. My chocolate was heavenly - far superior to what you'd find in Mexico, where good chocolate (especially with milk) can be difficult to find. The serving size was skimpy, though - less than the 8 oz. advertised.

                    The blackberry tart was excellent - flavorful, nice slightly-flaky crust, etc., nicely proportioned ($4.50 price on the menu, but I was charged $3.75).

                    My items were "take out," and pastry/coffee-chocolates are the only items packed-up to leave the place - and I don't expect that to change for some time, if ever (sandwiches, soups, etc., are not available as take-out . . . unless you'd bring your own container).

                    Overall, I still hold the opinion Bayless is shorting customers by serving skimpy portions at premium prices, for many of the menu items.

                    1. re: gomexico

                      On the way home from work last night at about 5:15 p.m. I walked past Xoco and noted the restaurant was almost empty and nobody was in line waiting to order, so I decided, on short notice, to give it another try. I wanted to see if things have improved over prior poor performances.

                      I was pleasantly surprised.

                      I'd tried the high-priced cochinita pibil sandwich before ($12) and what I was served had very little meat on it, and the best thing about the sandwich was the Labriola bread roll. Not this time, though. The sandwich, though lacking in wood-roasted meat flavor, was piled-high with meat and pickled onions. It was almost too much to eat at one sitting - something I'd call a rarity judging by my prior visits to Xoco.

                      I can't put my 'finger on it' but the meat tasted a bit 'off.' Something was missing. Maybe the spicing of the meat, or the roasting time of it. It was moist, though. I don't often use much salsa on my food but with cochinita pibil you really have to use it to bring the flavors together so I ate one half of the sandwich with the habanero and the other half without - for comparison purposes.

                      This, too, was a rare occasion when the Labriola bread roll wasn't the star of the meal - it played the role it should have . . . supporting.

                      It was an enjoyable sandwich, though, and I hope what I was served is typical of what's now regularly being offered customers and that Bayless and Xoco have stopped what I've previously described as short-serving and overcharging restaurant customers at Xoco.

                      Here's a link to a photo of my sandwich, a photo which doesn't do full justice to it:

                      http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2763...

                      1. re: gomexico

                        I finally made it to Xoco (I'm a Michigan 'hound) last weekend and we had a really great experience at breakfast. Our group tried nearly all of the breakfast options and shared everything although a small scuffle broke out over the last churro. At $1/each, I settled the fight by buying another round. Our favorites included the Ham, Egg & Green Chili Empanada - Simple, tasty, a little small. The Breakfast Torta (egg, chorizo, avocado) - The clear winner of the morning and the open-faced Torta (egg, spicy tomato sauce, rustic bread).

                        Did I mention the churros? Yeah, they were pretty darn good. We also tried several of the varieties of hot chocolate - I liked the Classic.

                        We had Saturday breakfast at around 8:30 a.m. and the place was busy but not crowded. Later that night after walking the entire city (Shedd, Art Institute, Michigan Ave shopping), we wandered back by Xoco on our way to the hotel. I realized that we hadn't eaten lunch since breakfast was so robust (and less than $10/person). So... we stopped for dinner.

                        Loved the Chicken Posole and the Cubano torta. We also got the Pibil and it was good but not life changing. We also got an order of chips and salsa and another order of chips and guac. AMAZING.

                        I wish Chicago wasn't a 4 hour drive away... I'd eat at Xoco two or three times a week!

                        1. re: Mensch71

                          I've had the pozole at Xoco. Once was enough. What I had probably isn't anything like you'd find in Mexico - nothing like I've ever eaten in the country (Mexico). I found it to be sub-par and a poor imitation of the real thing. I've had the breakfast sandwich, too - when Bayless was charging $9 or $9.50 for it - before cutting the price by 50%. I didn't like the sandwich then but I've read reports such as yours that give me the impression it's been vastly improved. No disputing that the Labriola bread rolls are fantastic - they're the most positively commented upon part of meals at Xoco I read.

                          Thanks for your report.

                2. I usually take the Purple Line to work but rode the Red Line today and got out at the Grand Ave. station. Walking to the office from the subway station I passed-by Xoco and when I saw no persons in line waiting to order I went in for some breakfast (7:40 a.m.).

                  Breakfast was an afterthought at the restaurant and I think it shows in the menu offerings. My earlier breakfast visit was opening day and it was disastrous. My breakfast torta this a.m. was “okay,” nothing more than that. The current $4 price for the sandwich – poached egg set upon one half of a hardened/toasted bolillo roll – was less than half the price I paid for the same sandwich a the restaurant’s opening but it was constructed differently, different ingredients, the poached egg was slightly under-cooked and it would have helped to have a chain saw to cut through the bolillo. This is a sandwich which may look pretty in test kitchen pictures, but I don’t think it works well when served to customers.

                  I’ve been a fan of the hot chocolate at Xoco, but my cup of “Ultra” this morning was bitter tasting and the chocolate tasted as if it hadn’t been thoroughly incorporated into the liquid - I could taste the granules.

                  A $7 breakfast. You can do better in the neighborhood.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gomexico

                    Here's a link to a photo of the breakfast sandwich I wrote of, above:

                    http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2568...