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  • Flo Sunday Brunch

    Post #1 - September 24th, 2004, 5:51 am
    Post #1 - September 24th, 2004, 5:51 am Post #1 - September 24th, 2004, 5:51 am
    LTH,

    Ellen and I had brunch with the always engaging Peter Daane at Flo Sunday. I had read a few ok to good, but no glowing, reports on Flo and, in general, that's how I'd sum up our meal. Ok to good, but not glowing.

    We started with red chili bloody mary's, which were heavy on the vodka, not a bad thing, but weak on chili flavor, and guacamole. Ellen makes excellent guacamole and her comment when she tasted Flo's was she could make better at home in less than 5-minutes. I'm not saying the guac was bad, just that it was just ok to good. I will say a few, ok more than a few, shakes of hot sauce helped immeasurably.

    For lunch Ellen had tamale hash, which was the best dish of the day. Chunks of tamale, pan fried, topped with a couple of poached eggs, red chili gravy and black beans on the side. Though the tamale chunks themselves would have been greatly enhanced by additional time spent crisping.
    Image

    Peter had Knife and Fork steak tacos, basically unadorned steak tacos, topped with a plain 2-egg omelet, red chili gravy and black beans on the side. The meat was slightly tough, cheese industrial tasting and black beans, which were the same on all three lunches, ever so slightly undercooked.
    Image

    I had high hopes for my chilaquiles, which I ordered with the addition of chorizo, but even though Flo's chilaquiles looked great, no soap radio. Funny, but the chorizo seemed to be the culprit, mainly due to the fact Flo's chorizo tasted like nothing more than hamburger. Odd, I know, and probably not accurate, but there was no flavor 'pop' from the meat, it actually reminded me a bit of Hamburger King's Akutatawa, which is a mix of hamburger/eggs/bean sprouts, served with rice and American style gravy on the side.

    (Warning: Image may be less delicious than it appears. )
    Image

    Given it was Sunday noon, we thought Flo would be quite busy, even had a default plan to go to Cafe Central across the street, but the wait was only about 20-minutes. Service is good, the room is nice, food well prepared and attractive, but flavor wise, at least to my palate, flavors seem ever-so-slightly watered down.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Flo
    1434 West Chicago Ave
    Chicago, IL 60622
    312-243-0477

    Cafe Central
    1437 W Chicago Ave
    Chicago, IL 60622
    312-243-6776

    Hamburger King
    3435 N Sheffield Ave,
    Chicago, IL 60657
    773- 281-4452
    Opens early and closes early, call.
  • Post #2 - September 24th, 2004, 7:43 am
    Post #2 - September 24th, 2004, 7:43 am Post #2 - September 24th, 2004, 7:43 am
    G Wiv wrote:We started with red chili bloody mary's, which were heavy on the vodka, not a bad thing, but weak on chili flavor, and guacamole.


    What the hell is guac doing in a bloody Mary? :lol:

    Your assessement of Flo's coincides pretty much with mine: okay, not great, sometimes not even that good. I have met the genial owners of Flo at Justjoan's, and I had been there before about two years ago, so my expectations were high, but the food was just...okay. I had the famous frito chili pie: the beans had no punch. My overall feeling was that I had been suckered into a touristy one-joke dish that could have been made much better with just a little care (and garlic and cayenne).

    We went on a Saturday night, when, again, one would expect them to shine...but they didn't.

    Hammond
  • Post #3 - September 24th, 2004, 5:54 pm
    Post #3 - September 24th, 2004, 5:54 pm Post #3 - September 24th, 2004, 5:54 pm
    Nice post Gary...always a pleasure to dine with you and Ms. Wiv.

    Although, I subscribe to the philosphy that it is not wise to post negative reviews about a place until you have given them one or two tries...I agree with your assessment, that Flo lacked sparkle necessary for a second visit.

    While many of the menu items sounded quite good, the best way I can describe it it that the chef is missing. In otherwords, the concept of the dishes is quite good, but the execution is sorely lacking, chef's day off, line cook takes over. However, this should not be the case on what I am sure is their busiest day of the week.

    Flo has great potential, but can't seem to apply itself....but, that's on one or twenty of my report cards as well. :oops:
    Unchain your lunch money!
  • Post #4 - September 27th, 2004, 1:01 pm
    Post #4 - September 27th, 2004, 1:01 pm Post #4 - September 27th, 2004, 1:01 pm
    i ate at flo last weekend, and i mostly agree with your assessment. this was my second time for brunch (i've never had dinner but i've always wanted to try it). the first time, i had the chilaquiles. i didn't think they were all that, but i decided that maybe i just don't like chilaquiles that much - - outside having them at a place in taos - - after having them at angels and a few other places in town. the next time, my friends and i all shared our brunch. everything was fine except for the frittata, which i thought was excellent. i also thought the red sauce with the fork and knife taco was good.

    i so wish chicago had an outstanding tex-mex place. the tribune recently had a write up on a place that was on chicago, i believe. it seemed like a really tiny place - i can't remember the name. has anyone tried it??
  • Post #5 - September 27th, 2004, 1:16 pm
    Post #5 - September 27th, 2004, 1:16 pm Post #5 - September 27th, 2004, 1:16 pm
    Though not adding much to the original discussion, I will say I have been to Flo's for breakfast maybe 4-5 times in the last year. Every time time what I am ordering looks great on paper but the execution just isn't there. Then again, I have never had anything ~bad~, only average. Like I said, I am not adding much that hasn't already been said.
    Now the point I did want to make was that chilaquiles is one of my favorite breakfast dishes and I am always open to trying it at any taco stand that serves it, however I have been disappointed in pretty much all of them (this has been going on for 8-10 years now too). Most seem to rely too much on a salsa that turns the whole dish to a soup like consistency, rather than the firm texture usually bound with egg and softened by salsa (preferably red for me) and usually chorizo that I love. Anyways, it was about 2 years ago that I decided to give the chilaquiles at Leo's Lunchroom a whirl, and they hit what I had been missing on the head. So if anyone else is looking like I was, give Leo's a shot, as they usually have a chilaquiles on the specials menu.
    Any other places propel have enjoy chilaquiles at?
    Jamie
  • Post #6 - September 28th, 2004, 3:09 pm
    Post #6 - September 28th, 2004, 3:09 pm Post #6 - September 28th, 2004, 3:09 pm
    I'll chime in, as it pains me to see Flo get the "eh" treatment. I've found for the past 4 years, that Flo breakfast is easily my favorite. The southwest/latin-tinged dishes are always solid and "Eggs Flo" is without a doubt breakfast perfection.

    However, it's become impossible to get in without a hefty wait, unless you go on a weekday. I'm glad for them, as they worked hard to make this place what it is, but I have a hard time waiting more than 10 minutes for breakfast when there are so many outstanding options.
  • Post #7 - October 2nd, 2004, 4:09 pm
    Post #7 - October 2nd, 2004, 4:09 pm Post #7 - October 2nd, 2004, 4:09 pm
    Since Cafe Central got a mention I'll repost a post on it from another site, "Quest for Puerto Rican Part 2," May 19, 2003:

    I did the search beforehand and the only mention I could find of Cafe Central, 1437 W. Chicago, was a passing reference to its existence by Jeff B, who hadn't actually eaten there. I kind of think it may have been slammed in that Reader "Puerto Rican Plus" thing, but I can't find it at the moment. Anyway, let's go to the quick verdict:

    This should be a famous Chicago place. People should know "Cafe Central." Chowists should groan when someone mentions Cafe Central for the millionth time, and say "No, the place that's way better than Cafe Central is..."

    The food, based on what I had today, is not the main reason. I'm not saying it wasn't pretty good, but I ordered something kind of unusual and I ought to eat more conventional things before I can judge its position more fairly. But Cafe Central has all the other elements that should make it the Puerto Rican Manny's, the Puerto Rican Lou Mitchell's, the Puerto Rican River Kwai full of latenight hipsters staving off the munchies:

    - Established 1950 (the shirts of the staff say so)

    - Authentically grimy diner atmosphere complete with 60s-era signage and typography (I don't mean Peter Max 60s, I mean faux Old West/Circus, like Barnum & Bagel)

    - Packed at lunchtime with real Chicagoans including cops

    - Located in transitioning-to-yuppie hip neighborhood near downtown (it's right across from Flo and the extremely LA-chic storefront of some nightclub which is so hip it doesn't even seem to have a name)

    And yet the hipsters seem not to have found it in great numbers yet. Go figure.

    Anyway, so after Marta's several weeks back my friend Wyatt said, we gotta go to Cafe Central and have mofongo. What is mofongo, I ask. It's like Puerto Rican polenta, he says, sort of green plantain and corn and stuff mashed into a ball. Very peasanty. Well, as long as it doesn't require being chewed by someone else first, like some South American tribal delicacy I saw on a documentary once, I said.

    So I ordered dos chuletas and mofongo. And get two thin pork chops which, though salted and fried into a curl of shoe leather consistency, are surprisingly juicy, and prove much less of a challenge to finish off than I expect at first. And next to them... a ball of what looks like pizza dough, with bits of corn in it. I try not to make unfortunate visual comparisons which would put me off eating, and take a bite. It's starch 'n' garlic, basically. Very much tastes like something peasants would live on. You could grow up loving it, I think. I didn't, so it's probably not something I'd go out of my way to have again. Wyatt says in Puerto Rico you get a little cup of broth which helps make it go down easier, like gravy on mashed potatoes. But it's savory, it's filling. I'm not going to leave this place unsatisfied.

    I will go back and try other things soon.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #8 - October 3rd, 2004, 6:37 pm
    Post #8 - October 3rd, 2004, 6:37 pm Post #8 - October 3rd, 2004, 6:37 pm
    Mike G wrote:extremely LA-chic storefront of some nightclub which is so hip it doesn't even seem to have a name)


    That'd be Sonotheque. It's actually a great little boutique nightclub with very little attitude and a fantastic Funktion One sound system. I'm generally not too hot on their Saturdays, but quite fond of their Fridays and the occasional weeknight one-off events.
    -Pete
  • Post #9 - October 22nd, 2015, 9:34 am
    Post #9 - October 22nd, 2015, 9:34 am Post #9 - October 22nd, 2015, 9:34 am
    West Town's Flo Expanding to Lakeview With Second Location on Ashland

    http://chicago.eater.com/2015/10/21/958 ... ew-mexican
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #10 - November 7th, 2015, 8:49 pm
    Post #10 - November 7th, 2015, 8:49 pm Post #10 - November 7th, 2015, 8:49 pm
    11-year bump award! :)

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