In Defense Of Xoco; Quince Finds Its Footing

Xoco's pork belly and fideos caldo

• Mike Sula offers up a defense of Xoco: the lines, the prices, the authenticity, everything. The point here, he says, is that this is stunningly delicious food made from top-notch ingredients, from the heavenly tortas (he compares the headcheese-and-tongue variety to a banh mi) to the more-than-a-meal caldos to the sweet churros, and that's worth it all. [Reader, first item]

• Chef Andy Motto has taken over the kitchen at Evanston's Quince, and David Tamarkin really likes his dinner: a signature cauliflower ravioli, buttery octopus, masterfully prepared meats of all sorts. Unfortunately the desserts are unilaterally disastrous, and the service leaned towards snobby — but those are things time can take care of. [TOC]

• The food is pretty great at Mercadito, says Sula — salsas are flavorful, the tacos al pastor are close to perfect, and we might finally have a decent fish taco in town — but it's the portion sizing where problems arize. Stingy amounts of guac, salsa, and teensy tacos make the prices seem huge in comparison, and the overhyped, underwhelming drinks list doesn't help. [Reader, second item]