Food & Drink

Authentic Mexican hits the streets

When you've proved yourself at the highest level, sometimes the only place you can go to re-prove yourself is the place where it all began: in prison. Or, umm, the street! Yeah, totally the street. Taking it there, XOCO.Opening in September next door to recently crowned Top Chef master Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican joints Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, XOCO (derived from Spanish slang for "little sister") is a quick-service cafe with communal tables and a central wood burning oven where the aromas of Bayless' take on classic made-to-order south of the border street fare is sure to draw crowds from all over, unlike that stupid mime internship. A heavy proportion of the menu consists of tortas like the Cochinita Pibil (12-hour smoked pork with black beans, pickled onion, and habanero), the Choriqueso (homemade chorizo and artisan jack with roasted poblanos and tomatillo salsa), and for the more adventurous, a combo of smoked tongue and head cheese, aged atop the domes of portly Packer fans. For spoon aficionados, they're also doing a selection of caldos (hearty soups) like the braised shortribs in red chile broth with roasted veggies, a pork belly vermicelli with wild mushrooms and salsa negra, and a wood roasted chicken pozole augmented with crunchy garnishes, so... birkenstocks?For those whose street cravings start early in the morning, Bayless' take on churros will be available all day, along with some breakfast-y baked goods (ginger lime muffins, Mexican vanilla-sour cream coffee cake), and even hot chocolate made with freshly ground cocoa beans, but don't even think of asking for mini marshmallows, because this place may be street, but it's not THAT street.