Budget chow for South Side?
My nephew started college in Chicago this year. He's studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology. I believe that's the south side of Chicago. Anyway, I'd like to give him some recommendations from the Chicago Chow experts on quality places for meals that's not too expensive for a college student. So no fine dining recommendations. But decent places (ethnic is good) that showcases some of Chicago's talents. He's from Hawaii so he's open to a mix of food, not just pizza and hot dogs, although I'm sure he'll be happy to hear about those type of foods as well. He likes Italian, Chinese, Japanese, but I'd also like to seem him expand his culinary education to other things as well while he's studying in Chicago. (Again, has to be on a college student's budget.) Thanks!
A quick trip to Chinatown is convenient, fast & cheap. Can get some authentic rice box dishes for just $5, or if really on the grind, stock up on some $0.75 ham and egg, or bbq pork buns that work well as a sandwich alternative to lunch or breakfast. The other Bridgeport suggestions are great too, 31st St Maxwell Depot, Ricobene's and Connie's. Most of these places, he'll probably need a car, unless it's nice weather & he's up for a bit of a walk. Chinatown is only one stop north (Cermak) on the red line from IIT (35th). I would stick more to the Chinatown/Bridgeport area for "regular" meals. Directly east of IIT's campus can be a bit sketchy. Going down to Hyde Park or further south is a bit of a track for a meal during the regular College routine unless looking for a bit more special meal...
Re Bridgeport, here are some suggestions:
In easy walking distance:
300 W. 31st St.
(Medium priced sitdown family-owned restaurant--good gnocchi)
Southside Shrimp House
335 W. 31st St.
(May not be comparable to Hawaii, but still some of the best takeout shrimp in the city. Be sure to get the jumbo)
A bit of a walk further on to Halsted:
Healthy Food Lithuanian Restaurant
3226 S. Halsted St.
(No, not a vegetarian restaurant; "healthy" in the sense of "healthy portions." A taste of Lithuania at little cost. And they have bacon buns if you get there early enough for Saturday breakfast.)
Ed's Potsticker House
(I don't have the address, but it's a couple of blocks north of Healthy Food on Halsted).
A great alternative to Chinatown. Try the lamb with cumin and the onion pancakes.
3714 S. Halsted St.
(Good local sports bar with pub food, where locals and politicos hang out, particularly before Sox games. Don't wear your Cubs cap here. Of course, since he's spending most of his time on the South Side, I suppose he's had the sense to trash his Cubs cap by now.)
A Southside tour of some great cheap eats would not be complete without him hitting the Maxwell St depot in Bridgeport for Polishes & pork-chop sandwiches and Ricobene's also in Bridgeport for deep dish pizza and the unique breaded steak sandwiches only found on the Southside which are only a stones throw from IIT.
Also nearby is one of the highest rated Italian beefs in the entire city Al's Beef on Taylor street. And for authentic Mexican, there is the Pilsen neighborhood & Little Village areas with no shortage of good inexpensive places to enjoy.
Hyde Park (a neighborhood on the South Side) has several good, cheap restaurants. Including:
Cedar's of Lebanon - Mediterranean
The Medici - burgers, pizza, etc.
Snail - Thai
Noodles, etc. - Thai
Star of Siam - Thai
Thai Twee - Thai
Of the many Thai options, my favorite is Snail, but all of the ones I listed are pretty good and very cheap.
One place to put on his list is:
3901 S. Michigan Ave.
It's in walking distance from IIT, but go with a group (particularly at night) or drive. Good soul food, with emphasis on fried chicken, catfish, peach cobbler (not to be missed), mac & cheese. Open for breakfast and through the early evening. Its Sunday brunch draws a large crowd of churchgoers and is quite a scene (dress up for that one! otherwise casual.)
First, I wouldn't limit him to the South Side. IIT is only 5-10 minutes by expressway from the Loop (downtown Chicago) - okay, maybe more in rush hour and when the Dan Ryan is under construction - but still, it's easy enough to travel to just about any part of the city by car or by public transportation.
Entire books have been written about cheap eats in Chicago, including ethnic foods of every description. You can search Chowhound topics. (You'll get 749 topics if you search the Chicago forum on "cheap eats"!) Also, you can search the restaurant listings at Metromix (the dining and entertainment website of the Chicago Tribune at http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di... ) by combinations of type of food (from Afghani to Vietnamese), location, and cost.
IIT is in a great location. He's across the highway from Bridgeport which has a bunch of Italian restaurants. Connies Pizza is there and has great pan pizza. He's just south (and across the highway) from Chinatown which has many, many incredible Chinese resaurants.
But let me throw out one suggestion. He should try Harold's Fried Chicken which is a south side fixture (dozens spread throughout the city). He should get half a chicken and ask for hte hot sauce on the chicken.