Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill has been on my list of places to eat pretty much since I moved to Chicago. I *adore* Mexican food and I’d heard so many wonderful things about his restaurants. The restaurant takes a handful of reservations although they suggest allotting 6-8 weeks to get one. Not content to wait that long, I rounded up a group of friends and decided to show up at 5 (when the place opens for dinner) and wait. I figured, how bad could it be, right?
Turns out, it was pretty bad. At 5 on a Saturday night, the hostess told us 2 to 2.5 hours. Yikes! I probably would not have waited that long but the weather was nice and my dinner companions were determined to tough it out. Making good use of our time, we strolled over to the latest Bayless eatery next door, Xoco, for its much lauded churros and Mexican hot chocolate. We were not the only ones with that bright idea. The line when we got there was almost to the door (see above), but that gave me plenty of time to look around and snap pictures.
The place was small but bright and pleasantly lit. It is also managed within an inch of its life. We had the manager tell us “move here,” “wait here,” “do this,” “are you getting this to go?”, etc. It bordered on annoying but also seems understandable given the considerable volume this place still seems, several months after it opened. We each got a churro and a Mexican hot chocolate to go. We killed about 40 minutes just doing that. It took all my will power not to order some “real” food off the main menu. There were so many tempting options, including a daily special of goat barbacoa! Because of the nice weather, we enjoyed our food and drink outdoors. One of my friends really didn’t care for Mexican hot chocolate but for me it totally hit the spot. A little spicy, a little savory, and a little sweet, it was the perfect accompaniment to my churro.
I’ll go back one of these days to try out the food, hopefully soon. More on my actual meal on Frontera (we did eventually get in) soon.
Xoco, 449 N. Clark St.