At 449 N Clark Street in Chicago, the first visual I had of XOCO was a group of people congregating around a window. It took a moment to weave through the crowd, but eventually it was clear that the object of interest was the artistic creation of one of XOCO’s many desserts. (I had a churro, but more on that later.) I made my way inside the restaurant where I was greeted by popular Latin music, soft lighting, and an incredibly friendly host.
Available as either take in or out, the line was short when I walked in at 12:30pm, and we were seated rather quickly. Set up as a series of shared tables, I sat with one other family. The exchange was not awkward and almost comfortable, as the constant chatter, music, and flow of people kept a general business to the place, leaving little room for social anxieties. In fact, the restaurant itself encourages social interaction from its ambiance to its servers, who are more than willing to strike up a conversation.
The menu of Mexican street food has no shortage of options, including vegetarian choices. After serious deliberation, I decided on the Red Chile Chicken Torta and Tlayuda. Tlayuda as an appetizer was a delicious mistake, since by the time my meal came I was nearly full. The tostada was crispy and layered with black bean spread, cheese, and salsa — all of which blended tastefully. It took around 15-20 minutes to get my food, and it took me about five minutes total to finish it. That is to say, the torta was incredible: the cactus grilled perfectly, the chicken flavored gorgeously, and the bread! Moment of silence for the bread alone, please. The ricotta cheese gave a subtle flavor and a contrasting texture to the spicy sandwich. Finally, the churro was crunchy and sweet, and that was without the homemade chocolate sauce.
Overall, next time you’re in the city, make sure to hit up XOCO for an all-around great lunch experience.