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Chicago Restaurant Spotlight: Flo and Santos

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What happens when a Polish woman marries an Italian man? They serve their family homemade Polish and Italian food and inspire a restaurant specializing in pierogies and pizza. Flo and Santos in the South Loop is a restaurant with a fun concept, great food and reasonable prices.

Charles and I decided to be low key and celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early with wings, beer and pizza. (That is romantic, right?) Did you know Valentines Day is the second busiest day for restaurants? Mothers Day is the busiest. In an attempt to avoid restaurant craziness tomorrow, we went out to dinner last night, and I will cook dinner for us tomorrow.

Charles thought it would be fun to go to dinner and a movie. Ever since we discovered VIP movie tickets with reserved seating (and a bar) at the Showplace Icon we haven’t gone anywhere else – which meant heading out of River North to the South Loop. It was up to me to pick a restaurant. I thought a restaurant that was inspired by a Chicago couple was fitting. Flo (short for Florence) and Santo were the restaurant owner’s neighbors when he was a child. The bottom of the menu, pictured below, tells a little of the story of Florence and Santo.

I love the laid back neighborhood feel of the space. When we first walked in I though it was a small narrow space, but most of the room is in the back. The brick walls are decorated with old photos of Chicago. There are enough tvs to watch a game, but not so many that it’s obnoxious. There are two bars, one in the front and one in the back. The patrons were a mix of families, groups of friends, a few couples, and a group of cops. (I have this theory that cops always know where to get a great cheap meal. When I was in Italy I would always ask the police for restaurant recommendations – they took this very seriously often discussing it with amongst themselves before giving a suggestion).

Charles and I decided to eat at the back bar. The beer selection is extensive and focused mostly on local brews, but they still had my favorite, Allagash White. The menu has lots of variety. Appetizers include wings, pork wings (something they invented), pierogies and bruschetta. There are also a couple appetizer sampler platters available. We had the wings which I thought were great – meaty and just the right amount of spice. The last time we dined at Flo and Santos we had the pierogies and they were some of the best I have tried. (Did you know that Chicago has the second largest Polish population of any city in the world? Only Warsaw has more Polish people).

The entrees include crispy thin crust pizza, along with Polish and Italian classics like Polish sausage and Italian beef. We chose a pizza that was a daily special and was topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. I added artichokes to my half since they are my favorite pizza topping. The pizza was cooked to perfection, with the cheese golden brown. The balsamic sauce was sweet and tangy and went very well with the other ingredients. We ordered a large, and were unable to finish it – but we came close.

The first time Charles and I went to Flo and Santos we went with a group of 4 friends. The thing about Flo and Santos is that you should take advantage of the variety of the menu. The experience is better when you can order wings, pork wings, pierogies, polish sausage, and pizza and try a bit of everything. We loved the pizza last night, and will definitely be back again. Flo and Santos is a fun place to catch up with friends, and a very convenient place to dine before catching a movie.

Flo and Santos is located in Chicago’s South Loop at 1307 South Wabash Ave. It is a short walk from the Roosevelt Red Line stop. They do not take reservations – but we had no trouble getting in on a weeknight.


Wednesday 13th of February 2013


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