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If you were moving to Chicago and didn't have a car...

If you were moving to Chicago, and didn't have a car, and were on a budget, where (give me an intersection) would be the best place to live to be within walking distance of the most good food options. Wow that's a long sentence! Ok, when I say "good food," I mean tasty, not expensive. All food types and ethnicities appreciated. Thanks in advance you guys! (This is my first Chicago post!)
Love, Kiwi

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  1. Probably just North of Andersonville, in less pricy Edgewater -- walking distance from the Red Line to the Loop and Evanston -- walking distance from Clark Street, Broadway and all the tasty and reasonably priced restaurants in that area, too numerous to enumerate here!

    4 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      mmm, Andersonville. Isn't that where the Middle Eastern market is that has those delicious stuffed sandwich things?

      1. re: kiwi

        Exactomundo... those stuffed pastries sure are yummy. I've bought quite a bit of Halva there too.

        Of more culinary importance, said bakery is mere steps away from two delis that carry great scandinavian groceries: Wickstrom and Erickson. Also Hopleaf, a fantastic belgian bar with more beers on tap than I can count and the best mussels in town. Swedish bakery is not too far off either.

        1. re: kiwi

          Hi Kiwi, what is the name of the Middle Eastern market? Thanks!

          1. re: wench31

            It's the Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery on Foster between Clark and Ashland. YUM!

      2. Consider Bucktown/Wicker Park. Plently of cheaps eats in the neighboorhood, and plently of public transportation.

        6 Replies
        1. re: JJ.

          I agree. Somewhere around Damen, between North and Division would be perfect.

          1. re: chicgail

            thank you for the intersections!!

            1. re: kiwi

              I second the bucktown/wicker park suggestion. Probably the largest variety of places in the shortest distance. faves about this area: the vegan/vegetarian places, (bleeding heart bakery), sultan's market for great falafels, farmers market in the summer, rodin's for brunch, handlebar, sweet thang (great croissants) coast sushi, meritage...

              1. re: pierrot

                OP is talking about budget apartments and dining, however, and Bucktown is substantially pricier than Edgewater at this time.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Hey Chef June,
                  We are totally keeping our options open. I've seen enough apt. listings in the Bucktown/Wicker Park vicinity that are do-able price-wise, so we're not counting anything out! Thanks!

                2. re: pierrot

                  Hi Pierrot,
                  Thanks for the specifics. Is there a particular intersection I should zero in on to be in close to your faves?

          2. In chicago, walking distence near the EL. I agree with Andersonville, near the red line for cost and being able to get around town.

            Check out the attached link. It is a good start to learning the El.

            1. I live in Chicago, don't have a car and am on a budget. Right now I live on the Andersonville/Uptown border and love it. Lots of ethnic food on the Uptown side and lots of restaurants/bars on the Andersonville side. You really don't need a car no matter where you live in Chicago unless you have to drive to work

              5 Replies
              1. re: lbs

                Is it Uptown or Rogers Park where there are Ethiopian restaurants? Or is it Edgewater? Sorry, it starts to get a bit blurry (my brain function, not the map) around there.

                1. re: kiwi

                  Edgewater has two. Ras Dashen and Ethiopian Diamond. Ras Dashen is by Thorndale and Broadway (Thorndale Red Line stop, go west to Broadway, go south on Broadway maybe a block). Eithopian Diamond is around Granville and Broadway. (Granville stop off the Red Line, go west to Broadway, go North a couple of blocks). There is an Ethiopian place in Uptown on Broadway but the name is slipping past me. It's off the Berywn stop (go west to Broadway, go North past the Jewel for maybe a block or so).

                  My personal fave is Ras Dashen

                  1. re: lbs

                    Yumm. Ras Dashan is on my list. ;}

                    1. re: kiwi

                      I third Ras Dashen. Best Ethiopian in Chicago. Check it out on a Friday night for live music!

                    2. re: lbs

                      I'm an Ethiopian Diamond fan, myself...

                      But I totally agree with North Andersonville for location.

                2. I've resided in Chicago for nearly ten years w/o a car. Most neighborhoods with their tasty fare are accessible by public transportation. You want to consider proximity to the Red and Blue lines and possibly the Brown line as well.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: aelph

                    That's a good point. From kiwi's previous posts, it looks like he/she is coming from the Los Angeles Area. Unlike LA, Chicago has an extensive train/subway system, so as long as you live close to the El, its very convenient to get around to all of these neighborhoods even if you don't have a car.

                    1. re: wak

                      Hi wak, Yes I'm a Valley Girl (San Fernando Valley in LA). Since we probably won't have a car, which is a constant argument, I want to live somewhere that there are lots of options within walking distance.

                  2. Thanks for your input so far, you guys!

                    Here's a bit more info: We are totally NOT food snobs, so a good bacon-cheese burger and chili-cheese fries are (shamefully) more valuable than good sushi!

                    Also, if you guys don't mind, I'm looking for stuff within walking distance from our apartment, not just walking distance to/from the el.

                    If you were going to be dropped off at a street corner, and couldn't take the train or bus, and wanted foot access to the most inexpensive and tasty places, where would you want to be dropped off?

                    Genuine thanks to you all,

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: kiwi

                      inexpensive and tasty == ethnic

                      So I'd suggest Devon avenue (Indian), Chinatown or Pilsen (Mexican).

                      1. re: OliThor

                        Yes, but I don't think kiwi wants to live in any of those neighborhoods. I think for the greatest number of inexpensive and tasty places, you want to be in Andersonville or Edgewater. Those are great places to live, and they offer lots of great, cheap ethnic food within walking distance.

                        Wicker Park and Bucktown also have lots of good restaurants, but a lot of the restaurants there are trendy, so they tend to be more expensive. There are cheap places, just not as many.

                        1. re: SuzMiCo

                          If I had to be dropped off at a corner for me, it's be Clark and Foster because of this:

                          Hopleaf, Hama Matsu, Tokyo Marnia, The Wooden Spoon, La Donna, Taste of Lebanon, Middle Eastern Bakery, Seva, Andies, Reza, La Tache, Hueys Hotdogs, Simons, By Low Liquors (now with a fancier name), Charlie Ale's House, Faraguts, Sweet Occasions, Swedish Bakery, the new Italian bakery, Calo's, Sunshine Cafe (fingers crossed).

                          That's all within 5 blocks.

                          Then you can walk east 6 blocks to the Vietamese area: Tank, Sun Wah, Hai Yen, and about 30 others plus Riques Regional Mexican food and Tweets on Sheridan.

                          A mile or so South on Broadway is Rah Dashen and Moodys, Uptown Taquria. A mile or so North on Broadway you got TAC, Magnolia Cafe, Carmela's, etc.

                          That's pretty much the Uptown/Andersonville area if you can stand to walk more than three or four blocks. Being without a car, you'll probably won't care!

                          ETA: My spelling is horrible! I apologize!

                          1. re: lbs

                            ...and if you take a 15 minute stroll southwest of Clark and Foster you can go to Over Easy for breakfast and Ventrella for espresso and gelato!

                            1. re: GAT

                              totally forgot that Lincoln Square environs are within walking (LONGISH) distance!

                            2. re: lbs

                              lbs, no apologies are necessary, ever! Especially since you provide amazing informative posts!! Oh, and why are your fingers crossed for Sunshine Cafe?

                              1. re: kiwi

                                Sunshine Cafe has been closed for a while because the owner was very ill. They are slated to re-open in the summertime. It's homestyle Japanese cooking (Udon, etc) and it's so good. The staff is awesome. I really hope they open soon.

                                As for Pilsen, I haven't lived in that area (grew up in Edgewater and live in Uptown now) but I do know that's a pretty decent place to live food-wise. They are some people on the board who can direct you more in that area.

                                1. re: lbs

                                  I'm sorry to hear that the owner is ill. Thanks for the info.

                                  1. re: lbs

                                    Sunshine Cafe has just reopened. I went past there on the bus the other day.

                                    BTW, I have lived in Chicago my entire life (close to 5 decades) and have never had a car. We had one when I was a kid (ancient Chevy), and when it conked, that was it. Still, that's never kept me from enjoying the city and the diversity of its cuisines. The way the city is laid out (e.g. Andersonville, etc.) you can visit a lot of places by starting from a main intersection & just walking. When all else fails, you can cab it, but I find that taking public transit allows you to see so much more of the city. P.S. I don't think Chicago is insular, or maybe that's because I grew up in Rogers Park, the most diverse neighborhood in the city.

                                    1. re: mrsgus

                                      I'm actually looking forward to chowing it up without a car. A car seems like a burden in a city that has such limited free parking. And Chicago traffic is really unpleasant. -Coming from Los Angeles, that should tell you something. You guys have such great eats everywhere that walking makes a lot of sense. It is the only way to find an undiscovered gem.

                                2. re: lbs

                                  I more or less said the same thing (without all the tasty details) in the first response! For QPR, you really can't beat this neighborhood. I suggested Edgewater only because the rent/purchase prices in Andersonville have gone up so much since it became so trendy.

                                  I grew up on Winnemac, just east of Clark, and I've seen the neighborhood go through all sorts of changes!

                                3. re: SuzMiCo

                                  Hey Suz,
                                  Though it isn't a discussion meant for this board, I'm not ruling out any neighborhoods. In fact, Pilsen would be convenient for us (husband is starting medical school at Mega-Debt aka Rush, which is why we are on a budget. ugh). So, if anyone has ANY non-chow advice, my email can be found on my profile. Thanks!!

                                4. re: OliThor

                                  Hey Oli,
                                  What cross street at Devon would be good? The idea of smelling Indian food from home is very appealing. Probably can't afford Chinatown. And where (cross streets) in Pilsen would you suggest?

                                  1. re: kiwi

                                    My current next door neighbor is a physician. I've had enough conversations with him and his wife to know that the #1 priority for med school is going to be proximity to the hospital -- early mornings and late nights are the norm.

                                    I think you are going to want to stick the recommendations of the University housing office which will almost certainly suggest the immediate area.

                                    It is really not bad to walk from the area around the Medical Center(s) {Rush is next to County & a few blocks from UIC Hospitals } to the Taylor St. restaurants or take public trans to other areas that may be more dense with cheap eats.

                                    Chicago has many neighborhoods, but frankly many of them remain insular. That means the overwhelming majority of living in Chinatown are Asian, the Devon corridor is heavily Indian, and Pilsen is very much a Hispanic enclave. The area around the Med Center is far more diverse.

                                    Good Luck!

                                    1. re: renov8r

                                      Thank you renov8r for your insight. Unfortunately, proximity to the medical district means higher rent so we are keeping our options open.

                                      1. re: kiwi

                                        There are really no 'bargin areas' in Chicago real estate, almost every neighborhood has many places that have been over improved and the landlords want too much rent. I have seen the same thing in effect with resturants -- once one or two places are seen doing a good business (especially with nice wine service and other things that landlords percieve as "profitable) the rents of all the places JUMP.

                                        The same thing that makes resturants want to locate to an area makes people want to live there.

                                        That also means that there are affordable places (that typically are just unimproved, but generally OK) in every neighborhood.
                                        Good Luck!

                                        1. re: kiwi

                                          A lot of our students (I work at the Med. school at UIC) live along Western, Damen, Halsted or Ashland, there is convenient bus service and it's a straight shot to the medical campus, and most of those have decent food choices (for example, Damen and Division area). If you go further out, you'll want to be in proximity to the Blue line, which stops right near here (one stop is right at Rush, one is right at UIC). Find out if Rush students do the U-Pass, which gives reduced rate on the CTA to students.

                                          1. re: leek

                                            Hi Leek, Thanks for the info. Big surprise, Rush doesn't do U-Pass. We are definitely looking at the neighboring areas.

                                      2. re: kiwi

                                        I agree w/ renov8r - hubby will probably really appreciate living close to the school. On the other hand, since 1st year probably won't be as tiring as third year, you can also try living in a less expensive, and different neighborhood and move to the now gentrified medical center district for his 3rd year (the rents there have gone up significantly since we moved out 10 years ago.)

                                        A good place to ask for advice on where to live as a med student is the forums at www.studentdoctor.net

                                        1. re: kiwi

                                          The Devon area would not be as transportation friendly for your husband's commute as the Uptown/Edgewater one, imho. Especially without a car.

                                    2. Wherever you end up choosing,if you are going to live here without a car I implore you to be within a couple of blocks of a subway station because waiting for the bus in Chicago's winter weather can be awful---while you can just duck down the subway and be much more comfortable. In some neighborhoods the subway goes above ground and becomes the EL but even then the trains run more frequently than the buses do. Look online "CTA Chicago" for maps.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Querencia

                                        Hi Querencia,
                                        Are you saying that we should be near the subway stops rather than the above ground stops, or are you recommending being near the train in general? I remember what it felt like waiting for the el in January, 7 degrees and windy. Ouch! ;}

                                        1. re: kiwi

                                          Why I'm not quite sure exactly what Querencia meant, I will say that being close to a bus or an el is essential without a car. The el-stops do have heat lamps, which can make a difference - or not, depending on if you run cold in general. But one of the great things about Chicago is that no one is going to look sideways at you if you dress like Nanook of the North during winter. So you're going to have to remove layer after layer at work. I just play night train in my head and make it fun. : ).

                                          I think the Andersonville suggestion is excellent. The only downside is that crappy, crappy Jewel Supermarket. Man, does it suck. I'm almost 50 and they still card me. Policy. Annoying.

                                          As far as the med. school thing goes, the blue line subway and the lawrence bus both run 24/7, as does the Clark street bus ... so it's doable. He will have to allow extra time during the winter, especially if it's snowing. But it becomes second nature to you eventually.

                                          If you have more questions that are un-food related, I suggest you go to general topics and post there. Good luck and welcome to Chicago! It's a great place to live. You'll love it.

                                          1. re: bryan

                                            Thank you Bryan,
                                            That was a terrific post. You should know that I'm only 29 and it THRILLS me when I'm carded. When they don't card you, it's like they're calling you, "ma'am." ;}
                                            And thank you for the welcome. I'm definitely looking forward to the move to your town. You guys have one thing we can't get in LA...chihuahua cheese!

                                            1. re: kiwi

                                              Wow. You would think with the hispanic population, you would be able to find that. BTW, they sell it at Edgewater produce over on North Clark in ... wait for it... Andersonville. You can also pick up your tortillas there. The produce is also way better and cheaper than the aforementioned crappy Jewel. Clark Street is a treasure trove for all kinds of Mexican goodies. Especially as you get further north. There are street vendors selling some darn good tamales, etc.

                                              Good luck sweetheart. If you have more questions, feel free to post them. We're a bunch of smartie-pants.

                                              1. re: bryan

                                                I'll be like the 9000th person to recommend Andersonville. I live about a block from the Clark and Foster intersection, and can't imagine living anywhere else in the city. The food options are great, the bars are fun, and the apartment prices are pretty low considering what a cool neighborhood it is.

                                                yes, the Jewel is terrible, but it is possible to avoid going there completely if you do once a month target uns to stock up on cleaning supplies and things like Diet Pepsi. I pretty much live on food from the middle eastern grocery store on Foster, and produce from the little produce store on Clark. In the summer, the Green market in Lincoln Park is a quick bus or bike ride away, for some of the best produce and specialty products around.

                                                1. re: lulubelle

                                                  And I'll go on record and say that I don't think that Jewel on Berwyn and Broadway is bad at all. I mainly shop there as I can step off the El and there I am.. Granted the one on Clarks sucks.

                                      2. No one has metioned Albany Park yet, which is a great neighborhood for a foodie on a budget. Albany Park, similar to Devon, is a great immigrant neighborhood with fantastic food - some sit down, some take out. It's also just a mile walk (a beautiful walk too - along Wilson Ave) to Lincoln Square, which has some interesting newer and older restaurants that are a bit more upscale (plus Davis Theater, Old Town School of Folk Music, etc). We lived on Wilson and Troy - just a few blocks from the brown line - another plus for AP. You're 45 minutes from downtown. It's affordable to rent or own.

                                        1. I have to take this opportunity to talk up my new neighborhood, River West. River West is pocketed between the river and kennedy expressway (east/west) and roughly Chicago Ave. to Grand (north/south.) It's a short walk to all the dining in Wicker Park, West Town, and Grand Avenue little italy (bari foods!!!). It's also real close to Isaacson and Stern's fish market, and the Fulton Market district. There's great transportation, blue line, chicago ave bus, halsted bus which makes it easy to go anywhere.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: ilmangiatore

                                            While I agree this a great area now, I have to wonder about the truly affordable places to eat. Other than shopping and Bari, I'm hard pressed to name many good cheap eats in River West. But I don't live there. Although we have friends that do and they prefer the north-side for better priced meals.

                                            I do have to say Albany Park is a great suggestion. Especially for the food.

                                            1. re: bryan

                                              I'm a life long north sider and I agree with you that there is much more abundance of affordable eating in those neighborhoods. Also, the neighborhoods are real nice and cute. River West/West Town is little rough around the edges; however, they have their share of great places. The difference is that the North side will have 100 of everything to choose from and RW/WT will have only 1 of everything (each one being very good.) There's Flo, Bari, Byron's (bet hotdogs), Butterfly, D'Agostinos and Coalfire. That covers your Mexican, Italian, American, Asian, and Pizza and it's all affordable. That's a lot of great places in a tight radius.

                                              1. re: ilmangiatore

                                                I'm kind of in the same boat as Kiwi and I saw a great place in Logan Square for rent. What can I expect from Logan Square? It seems I can get more for my $ there, but are there good food options? Is it safe, walkable to other areas etc? Thanks

                                                1. re: chucktowneater

                                                  Logan Square options include Lula'a on Kedzie. There's a strip on California that includes SaiMai,decent, inexpensive Thai; Hatchi's Kitchen, one of my favorate sushi restaurants; and Bueno Terra, nice inexpensive Italian. There's also some good little Mexican places like Zacatecas in Logan Square and a Dunlevy's, a casual restaurant/bar on Logan.

                                                  This link might be helpful to you. http://www.chicago.com/neighborhoods/...

                                                  While I don't know about walking to other neighthoods, the Blue Line makes it easy to get into the city through Wicker Park and Bucktown.

                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                    Thanks a lot. I'll report back after my apartment viewings and dining at the end of next week.

                                          2. Update for those of you interested:
                                            We will be moving in September to...drum roll please...Oak Park. I know, I know. It seems like a food waste land, but we got SO much more apartment for the money. Truly, it is beautiful, and offers quick access to all that Chicago has to offer via the green line. That being said, the afternoon after we signed the lease, we took the green line to the red line up to Andersonville. I have a feeling that we'll only be in our beautiful Oak Park apartment one year and then will move to Andersonville. Unfortunately, time was a factor in doing our apartment search, so we didn't get to cover nearly as much ground as we planned. I just wanted to thank all of you for your wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor. I'm looking forward to being a member of your board and of your community. Love, Kiwi

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: kiwi

                                              Oak Park isn't a food wasteland. It actually has a bunch of decent, not-too-expensive places. If you search the board for Oak Park you will find a couple of recent threads with detailed discussions.

                                              1. re: kiwi

                                                Oak Park has a lovely downtown, and a terrific farmer's market on Saturdays.