Xoco Rising, Cluckers Chicken a Cheap Eats Gem, Falafill is Fantastic

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Falafill's pickle bar reigns supreme Photo: Michael Nagrant

Julia Kramer of Time Out Chicago says she can’t really criticize Rick Bayless for the long wait outside his new spot Xoco, but spends a paragraph talking about the long lines anyway. She feels all the pomp and circumstance is at odds with Bayless’ goal to create a fast casual spot. She finds the aggressive flavors “slap you across the face” and that the large crusty torta’s are a bit unwieldy and require a WWE wrestling type effort to wrangle into your belly, but that the artisanal hot chocolate as easy like Sunday morning. [TOC]

At the Tribune, Phil Vettel too starts off with a joke about the wait at Xoco, but doesn’t seem to have any problem dropping superlatives, or two stars, on the woodland mushroom torta and the “excellent cochinita pibil, a pork torta served with a lethal habanero sauce…” He finds the fare at Xoco so good, he thinks Chicago should have sent Bayless to Copenhagen instead of Obama to secure the 2016 Olympics, because “the guy simply can’t lose”. [TRIB]

David Tamarkin of Time Out Chicago finds the new Wicker Park outpost of Pannenkoeken Café to serve “unremarkable diner food” and finds the namesake Dutch pancakes a cheap novelty. [TOC]

Renee Enna bestows a fantastic four forks (a perfect Cheap Eats score!) on the awesomely alliterative Cluckers Charcoal Chicken in suburban Highwood. She loved the“tender, fall-off-the bone roasted chicken” and the “killer” Clucker-style sauce, a sweet-tangy blend of honey, chutney and curry, which was so good she almost dipped her brownie in it. [TRIB]

As of late the ludicrously prolific one, Mike Nagrant, has been only mildy prolific. Nevertheless, he’s back with the news in Newcity that Lakeview’s Filafill upholds the Coptic Christian standard for good deep fried chickpea fritters, and finds their pickle bar the most exciting thing about condiments since “Quizno’s pepper-bar commercials featuring those skeevy hampsters”. [NEWCITY]