Regardless of whether you devour dips with gusto or just want a tiny bit to complement your fried fare, there's no shortage of options around town, ranging from fudge desserts to mayo packed with Indian flavors.
'Xoco' on Serious Eats
After five years in Chicago, I've tired more than my fair share of Mexican restaurants (probably in the hundreds right now). So with Cinco de Mayo coming up on Sunday, I decided to pick out the essential Mexican dishes in Chicago.
Chicago lived up to the food hype I'd heard so much about. There wasn't a dud bite over the 5-day stretch, from the stunning hibiscus-lemongrass agua fresca at XOCO, to the harissa and prune pork pate at Publican Quality Meats, to the dreamy pies I ate (for breakfast!) at Bang Bang Pie Shop and Hoosier Mama Pie Company.
Few breakfasts excite me more than chilaquiles. While some people head straight for the maple syrup or all of the bacon and eggs in the morning, I crave spice and acid to help wake me up, and this dish gets that done like few others can.
In this month's version of "We Drink All the Hot Chocolate at..." we go on a little soul-warming vacation south of the border with the five hot chocolates at Xoco (just kidding: this is not actually a new column we're starting...or is it?).
Boy, my Atkins diet has not been going well. Yes sir, I've been hitting the carbs pretty hard this past year in search of Chicago's best noodles. And looking back on 12 months' worth of Knockout Noodles columns, I feel confident when I say this is an exciting time to be a noodle lover in this town.
As soon as I felt the first snap of a cold wind I immediately started to crave a huge bowl of soup. You know, the kind that warms you up and fortifies you for the rest of the day. Here are 13 flavorful and dynamic bowls to help you greet fall.
Brunch is the great unifier, a meal specifically designed for everyone. But when we asked our contributors to pick out their favorite spot to brunch, every single person picked a different place. We're taking this to mean that there has never been a better time to brunch in town, as these many great picks prove.
Xoco has been one of my go-to lunch spots since the busy River North restaurant began firing its tortas, caldos, and housemade hot chocolates. But it's been hard to pull myself away from the tasty tortas in order to sample its broth-based offerings. Well, it was until I read the description for Xoco's pork belly vermicelli (fideos).
Once left exclusively to the DQ's of the world, the soft-serve machine is now showing up in some very unexpected places. But this isn't your plain old vanilla cone. No, each place has adapted the dessert to its own vision, pairing it with ingredients traditional to cuisines of Thailand, Mexico, and Italy.
When visiting a new city, I feel like I'm always caught in the that strange middle ground of wanting to sample the iconic local food specialties, while simultaneously avoiding the kind of restaurants that prey on my naivety and take all my money. These are the places that that offer an unmistakable glimpse at Chicago, while also dishing out great food.
In a crowd of tortas featuring fillings like pork carnitas, chorizo, braised short ribs, and the like, the woodland mushrooms and vegetarian black beans manage to more than hold their own. Every Xoco fan—herbivore or otherwise—should give this torta a spin.
Put an Egg on It was born out of a very simple question: do all foods taste better with an egg on them? As far as savory courses are concerned, the answer seems to be almost a definite yes. (Very unscientific calculations were in the 99 percent range.) It doesn't matter if the egg is fried, poached, or cooked in a thousand dollar sous vide machine, that plump yolk—which should slowly erupt like molten lava—improves just about everything it touches.
Like any mortal, I occasionally crave a fat slice of chocolate cake, but most of the time, I like to seek out all the wonderful cuisines that so happen to also be free of gluten. Here's a tour of some of my favorite places.
A half bolillo roll spread with ranchero salsa subs in for crust and sauce. It's slid into a wood-fired oven, where it remains until everything is crisp and bubbling.
Here are the ten most popular A Sandwich a Day posts from out short stint here in 2011. Turns out I completely underestimated Chicago's sandwich scene, as there are great sandwiches in just about every neighborhood. The diversity was also striking. Sandwiches were overloaded and excessive, or sleek and minimal.
From silky gourmet Valhrona cocoa to complex Mexican spices, there are more variations on hot chocolate in Chicago than you can shake a candy cane at. Here are some of our favorites.
With salty chips and gooey toppings, chilaquiles are just about the perfect hangover food. And the chilaquiles from Xoco in Chicago, Rick Bayless's casual operation, are just about the best I've ever had.
There are breakfast sandwiches born of convenience, and then there are breakfast sandwiches that are worth getting up early for. It shouldn't surprise anyone who's eaten at Rick Bayless's Xoco that the Chorizo-Egg Torta ($7.50) is one of the latter.