There is something thrilling about discovering a place offers weekday brunch, I must say. So I must share my delight when I realized that XOCO, across from my office, offers brunch.
My sister works at a barre studio and she had been gone for awhile visiting our home of Washington, D.C., so when she came back to town, we decided to take an early morning barre class at one of her studios, and then head somewhere to grab breakfast before work.
XOCO is renowned chef Rick Bayless’ take on a fast-casual, walk-up counter restaurant, serving Mexican street food and beers on tap. I have been to XOCO for lunch a few times since my office relocated here in August. Additionally, my husband and I had dinner several times at the Wicker Park location before the restaurant re-concepted that one. Nonetheless, I must admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the breakfast offerings, nor the extent of the menu. Foolishly, I thought they only offered coffee and churros!
We walked into XOCO right around 8:15 a.m. and it was already bustling, having only opened 15 minutes prior. The hostess was very kind and explained that you are assigned a table number and then you order at the counter and they will bring your food to you.
Starving after our sweaty morning workout, everything on the menu sounded delicious. To drink, Ashley opted for the Oaxacan pressed coffee, while I went with one of the signature bean-to-cup chocolates, in the Aztec style. The drinks were delicious; my chocolate was especially hot, which I loved. I had to wait a few moments for it to cool down, but I risked burning my tongue for even just the tiniest taste. Ashley loved her coffee; it was bold and flavorful.
We went ahead and just started ordering left and right. The daily specials caught my eye, so to start I ordered the Friday special, the chicken tinga empanada. For entrees, Ashley went with the French toast, and I went for my favorite Mexican brunch dish, chilaquiles.
The empanada came out first, and it was very good. The crust was golden brown and shiny, thanks to a perfectly egg-washed crust. The empanada was made with chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, and smoky chipotle sauce—I loved it. Ashley was apprehensive at first, because she doesn’t like spice and the chipotle sauce intimidated her, but she tried it and enjoyed it as well.
Our entrees arrived to the table next. Ashley’s French toast came out in three golden brown pieces of wood-oven torreja, which is basically the South American version of French toast. Topped with local maple syrup and fresh fruit, it looked beautiful.
My chilaquiles arrived and looked, to be completely honest, perfect. I have a knack for cast-iron anything, so when the dish arrived in this cute, round, mini cast iron dish, I was excited.
The chilaquiles were gooey, cheesy, and had the ideal amount of heat, thanks to the diced peppers on top. Made with crunchy tortillas, tomatillo-serrano sauce, poblano rajas, Samuel’s cheese, scrambled eggs, and tatume squash, I cannot describe how flavorful this dish was. Hands down, these were the best chilaquiles I have had in the States.
What I loved most about the dish was the manner in which it was layered, and how everything just came together. In each bite you got the perfect amount of everything, and the chips though less crunchy than others I have had before, still kept their composure despite being drenched in cheese and sauce. YUM, YUM, YUM!
Satiated, Ashley and I were almost ready to head out, but not without indulging in a churro (or two!), a signature dish of the Bayless empire. We went ahead and ordered one pistachio and one chocolate-peanut.
The churros are premade and are on display in the window at the counter when you order, but when the dish arrived to our table, the churros were topped with more sauce, and look picture perfect. Both were equally divine and rich—the perfect end to a delicious meal.
I was tempted to get a coffee to go, because I loved it, but I now know I can just pop in any other day of the week, when I get a coffee craving at the office.
The Bitches Say: A+. XOCO is a great breakfast spot in River North for weekend brunch or mid-week breakfast. The dishes are full of flavor and pay the perfect homage to Mexico’s wonderful cuisine. Seriously, grab your friends and check this place out.
449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
XOCO serves breakfast on weekdays from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m