At first glance, Caffe Florian appears easily forgettable: Its menu reads like an office potluck, hardwood floors smell like a flooded basement and various shades of pseudo-impressionist art hang from pastel walls. But scratch a little deeper, and you'll find a very solid Hyde Park gathering spot which, judging by the diversity of its patrons, is all things to all people.
Nothing on the menu stands out as any kind of signature dish and most servers have resigned themselves to taking an "it's all good" approach to waiting, so don't expect much in the way of recommendations. But take them at their word; everything on the menu is delicious and served in abundance, so order "family style" and share the joy.
Geographically, appetizers tend to revolve around the American Southwest: Homemade chili (quite spicy) and cheesy quesadillas make great openings; the bruschetta, heavy with tomatoes and crackling with toasty splendor shouldn't be overlooked. Entrees run the continental gamut from eggplant parmesan to fish and chips to the hummus pita sandwich, all less than $10. Thin-crust pizzas with oodles of toppings is a favorite that doubles both as meal and, if the party is large enough, a crunchy appetizer.
As delicious as all that is, Caffe Florian is truly known for is its vast array of wraps (read: burritos). The folks at Florian cram more things into a tortilla than even the most skillful Latin chef. Packed with goodies like chopped chicken breast, cheese and veggies, the flavorful $7.95 wraps are cheap enough to couple with one of Florian's many side orders. Try the creamy mashed potatoes. BYOB.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Adam White