Chicago's South Loop has experienced a gradual makeover within the past 10 years. South Wabash has its own restaurant row with hot spots lining both sides of the street.
A new restaurant, Tapas Valencia (1530 S. State St.), once housed a restaurant and nightspot called SoLo, but the venue recently changed hands and is hoping to attract local customers to taste their version of Spanish cuisine.
Like most tapas places, Tapas Valencia boasts a full menu of hot and cold dishes, including soups and salads. However, the satisfaction factor is hit or miss.
The small plates we considered hits on a recent visit were the "Pimiento con Pollo," imported sweet peppers stuffed with chicken salad; the "Pato con Setas," a grilled duck breast on sauteed wild mushrooms, and the"Cazuelita de Pollo," featuring a chicken breast casserole with vegetables and cream of pimiento.
Tapas we found to be average or not very impressive were the "Zarzuela de Mariscos," a casserole of shrimp, clams and scallops and the "Tostadas de Salmon Ahumado," which was a basic smoked salmon and caviar plate. Their version of lobster bisque also missed the mark.
The dessert menu offers around 10 different selections, and the standout was the "Tarta de Pera," a pound cake with pears served with caramel sauce and ice cream.
Tapas Valencia is housed in fairly big space that has an industrial feel that wasn't very inviting. The service was a little shaky, but picked up throughout the evening.
Their wine list is extensive and highlights offerings from various regions in Spain. Wine flights are available to try, along with specialty martinis and red or white sangria.
The restaurant may not be a target destination for North siders, but it's a good addition to the still-growing South Loop neighborhood.