If you're unsure of what you're looking at when you walk into Flo, you're not alone. A collection of about 200 antique pencils immediately greets you on the right; a German hat mannequin occupies your left and a marvel of a restaurant dotted with folk art and classic photography sprawls out in front of you.
Though it's not obvious from the decor or the name, Flo is an authentic New Mexican restaurant. Owners Renee and Rodney Carswell both spent parts of their childhood in the southwestern state and have delighted Chicago with a simple cuisine dependent on red and green chilies. Best-known (and most packed) for its brunch, Flo also serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night munchies.
For brunch, your best bet is the huevos rancheros, a classic New Mexican red chili enchilada filled with cheddar cheese and onion, topped with two fried eggs and served with black beans and a warm tortilla ($5.95). The simple but oh-so-flavorful green chili chicken enchiladas ($7.95) will fill you for lunch with its three rolled corn tortillas stuffed with marinated chicken, Monterey Jack cheese and red onion, smothered in a roasted poblano sauce and served with rice and black beans. Serving sizes that Renee says in passing are "probably too big for your own good" are accompanied by prices that are kept as low as possible.
For portable Flo, you can buy sauces and soups to go. Choose from sauces such as roasted poblano pepper, New Mexican red chili and poblano-chipotle crema (32 ounces for $9.95) or soups like tomato bisque, cream of spinach and French lentil (32 ounces for $6.95).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Laura Brown