Eating (and drinking) Chicago, Part I

August is a great time to visit Chicago.
August is a great time to visit Chicago.

I’m sure there are people that go to Chicago to do things other than eat and drink, but I don’t happen to know any of them. When we booked our trip, I let my new-to-Chicago cousin know we were coming and she immediately went to work on our dining itinerary.

We landed at O’hare after a short weather delay (apparently O’hare is worse in the summer than in the winter – who knew?), headed to check in to our

Guacamole at Xoco - perfect "naked" and I am certain it would be good with toppings, too.
Guacamole at Xoco – perfect “naked” and I am certain it would be good with toppings, too.

hotel and grab a late lunch. We meandered in the direction of Rick Bayless’ restaurants and as Frontera Grill is closed at 3:30 in the afternoon, we zigged to the super-casual Xoco (pronounced sho-ko; yes, I had to Google that, too). The specialty at Xoco is Mexican street food, and pricey margaritas. The tortas (sandwiches) are quite extensive, but naturally we had to start with the guacamole. Although there are optional mix-ins (much like Cold Stone Creamery) for the guac, we opted for just the regular bowl of deliciousness.

The Woodland mushroom torta is one of the best sandwiches I have had in quite a while. So good, in fact, that I was reluctant to share with FKGuy (but I did). Flavorful and topped with goat cheese, arugula and black beans, I am going to say that it is a good thing this is not near my house or I would eat this every day. I would likely not be sick of this until the 300th day in a row, it is that good.

Best. Mushroom. Sandwich. Ever.
Best. Mushroom. Sandwich. Ever.

Thursday evening brought a mini-wine party, hosted by the Stefania Wine folks. This is largely for the Chicago wine folks, but since we were in town early we tagged along. It was supposed to be from 6-8 PM, you know, before dinner, and there was a spread of cured meats (don’t ask – I am not a cured meat aficionado and can’t really tell them apart), cheeses and thirteen wines ranging from the latest release or Pinot Noir so small that nobody is getting any, to the new Mourvedre as well as some library edition wines. All were fantastic, as was the mingling and catching up with old friends and new. In fact, we were having such a good time that at 11:30 PM, I realized it was time for me to go to sleep. Yes, we were those people that overstayed their welcome by several hours. But we were not the last ones there. I had just finished telling the saga of how when people come to our house and it gets really late, I have been known to take a nap under the dining room table. (This has happened on several occasions, all when loads of wine was involved.) Then, there I was, being that person, and I learned a lesson… sometimes the over-stayers are really quite fun!

Coming up Wednesday: over easy eggs, a fancy lunch, Italian food and drinks that make the margaritas at Xoco look downright cheap. Stay tuned.


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