Thursday, April 7, 2011

Busy Times at Some of the South Loop's Finest

There has been a lot of doom and gloom around some recent businesses and restaurants closing, but not all is bad in the hood. While some restaurants have been struggling, others seem to be thriving.

We recently had a two dinners at South Coast Sushi (obviously on two different nights) and the place was packed both times. Once there was a wait, which we've never had before, and the second time the only seating available was at the sushi bar. We tend to prefer a regular table, but opted for the different experience at the bar. Although it wasn't what we typically like, we were happy to see one of our favorite restaurants doing well. Good for them!

Last week, we had a friend coming down to the Sloop and decided we would hit up Flo & Santos. We know it's a good place, but our guest had never been. We told her we would pick up the bill, but made her send us her thoughts on the place (there is no such thing as a free lunch/dinner):
We visited South Loop favorite Flo and Santos on a busy, recent Thursday night but we found out that the restaurant is always busy. We arrived on the earlier side -- 630pm -- and their was a wait.

Our server was pleasant and interested in helping us but one member of our party knew to order pizza almost as soon as we were seated because pizza takes longer. One downside was the location of our booth -- we were the last booth before the restrooms and we were right next to the carry-out order pickup and cash register -- so there was a lot of traffic nearby. Luckily there were only 3 of us in our party so we had plenty of room in a booth sized for 6 or more.

Two of us had a pizza with chicken and pineapple but weren't wow-ed with it (probably because it's a slightly weird combo). I had a burger and it was top-notch. I liked the pretzel bun and the waffle fries were done just right. I asked for the burger medium rare and they did it medium rare! I've been to a lot of places lately where you ask for your meat medium rare and it comes medium. I'm not sure if that's a safety issue but why would they ask my preference if they're not going to make it the way I asked. Flo and Santos was 100% on!

The beer was excellent. Two of us had the special, Magic Hat #9. One funny part of the evening was that they gave us an unopened ketchup, so I opened it. Our keen-eyed server noticed this and immediately came over to give me an open bottle saying that I didn't have to do that. I was impressed with her speed and attention.

The menu looked exciting and unique. How many places have you been to that serve Polish and Italian food. I would go back and try more of the Polish fare. The ambiance was jovial -- there were TVs with sports showing -- and it wasn't too loud inside. The place is small -- the website boasts there are seats for 67 people, but that doesn't seems a little high. The art on the walls included old south loop photos from the early 1900s. Flo and Santos is the kind of place you can go back to and order a new item each time you're there. The art combined with the food and excellent service made the evening! I recommend it.
(Hat Tip: D$!)


Anonymous said...

It really surprises me that we don't see more restaurants and bars in the South Loop, profiting from the fact that we have lots of young professionals with above average income! The few ones we have are, at least from my personal experience, filled with people every night!

Anonymous said...

I second the original posters comment about the burgers! My husband picked one up for us to share on his way home from work one night and it was outstanding...delicious bun, perfectly cooked (medium rare)...which I was particularly impressed with considering we got it "to go."
We only have burgers a few times a year, so we usually go somewhere that we KNOW we'll get a good one (Kuma's or Hackney's mostly). We took a little bit of a gamble on Flo & Santo's, but I'm SO glad we did! So good to know we can satisfy our craving in our own 'hood. And we definitely won't be splitting one next time.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree about the burgers too! Excellent. I was expecting "good" and delighted to get "great". F&S has been a great addition to the neighborhood - especially for the somewhat desolate "self storage district" on Wabash! As a beer snob, I appreciate and enjoy their selection. I walk by almost every day after work (I live a few doors down) and walk my dog later at night and they're always busy - even on school nights. I'm glad to have F&S as a neighbor and see it succeed. Another place that's constantly busy and consistently excellent is Zapatista. Same owners, right? I've lost count of how many times my wife and I have been to both. Same goes for Wabash Tap, Ma&I, Tapas Valencia and Cafe Bionda!

Anonymous said...

i'm nitpicking because i believe F&S is one of the best places within a mile radius of the south loop, but i wish they would get rid of the middle low-rise tables.
instead, replace them with a long narrow bar-style hi-top with bar chairs.
that way, when the crowd overflows, people still can stand b/w the bar and the middle seating area.
that's all. i do think it's spot-on. when we first looked to buy in this neighborhood, there was a diner-style place called something (i forget). totally unremarkable.
F&S has great food, great beers and great TVs. a perfect neighborhood hangout.

Anonymous said...

Great article!

Anonymous said...

They need to expand expand expand. Outdoor seating would be nice.