Best cheap and delicious eats in the loop?
My boyfriend and I will be staying at Adams and Clark this Fri.-Sat. We'd like to know where we can get some good cheap food in that area. We've got a good handle on the nicer places, but as we're on a very tight budget this month most of our meals won't be at them. However, we don't want to end up at chains like Chipotle if we can avoid it. Are there any good local or hole-in-the-wall type places we can try instead? We love all types of food, and I am a vegetarian. We'll need to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner on both days.
Thanks, everyone! We are definitely willing to take the el, which I'm sure opens up a lot more possibilities. Given our budget, if we make this more about being adventurous and trying different hidden ethnic joints, we'll still have a great time. This is what I'm thinking so far:
1. Breakfast at Lou Mitchell's or Orange
2. Oasis lunch (maybe Blackbird)
3. Vietnamese dinner (will do more research, recs welcome)
4. Chinatown brunch (any recs that have a more extesnive menu that might have more veggie options?)
5. Greektown dinner (will see discussion link below for less expensive ones)
Still trying to figure out how to fit Mexican into the agenda, but I know there are lots of discussions on best Mexican so I won't ask you to repeat yourselves.
renov8r, I know what you mean.. I work less than a block from Club Quarters and go to Elephant & Castle with my colleages often enough, and had never heard of it until the company my boyfriend is interviewing with decided to put him up there!
1. The menu for Lou Mitchell's is on their website. It's a very traditional eggs-and-hash-slinging type place. Orange on Harrison doesn't have a website but you can view its menu at http://chicago.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?restaurantid=9071
3. For the Vietnamese dinner, take the Red Line el (subway) north to the Argyle Street stop. The few blocks of Argyle around the el stop has numerous Vietnamese places, of which the best-known is probably Tank Noodle (although they may be busy because they were featured last week on "Check, Please", a local television restaurant-review program). You can always walk down the street, reading menus and reviews in the windows to find one that sounds best to you.
4. Lao Sze Chuan's menu is HUGE and includes many vegetarian dishes. You can view the menu on their website; see link above. They're open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
5. For Mexican recommendations, you'll find an overview of many of our best and most creative places in the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/463572 It includes links to restaurant websites where available, as well as directions via public transportation. (Frontera Grill and Topolobampo are walking distance from your hotel; both are open for lunch as well as dinner.)
"We are definitely willing to take the el, which I'm sure opens up a lot more possibilities. Given our budget, if we make this more about being adventurous and trying different hidden ethnic joints, we'll still have a great time."
Devon Avenue. Indian Food. Can't say enough about it. Go.
The stretch of Devon Avenue (6400 N) that gordeaux is referring to is approximately 3/4 mile long, from Western (2400 W) to Sacramento (3000 W). Unfortunately, it's not right on any of the el lines, so you will have to take an el and transfer to a bus. See www.transitchicago.com for details.
That stretch is lined with Indian and Pakistani restaurants and shops. I like to adopt the same strategy as I mentioned for Argyle - You can always walk down the street, reading menus and reviews in the windows to find one that sounds best to you. Most of these restaurants have all-you-can-eat buffets at lunch, with vegetarian as well as meat items. One that is all-vegetarian, but does not have a lunch buffet, is Mysore Woodlands.
My suggestion to meet your budget is that if you plan to eat at any of the more expensive places, do so at lunch, when prices are less; then for dinner you can have the cheaper foods (e.g. pizza). With this strategy, you might even be able to afford one of the nice places for lunch. For example, two of our best contemporary American restaurants are Blackbird and Custom House. Both are walking distance from your hotel (to the northwest and southeast, respectively). Both are open for lunch, with mains in the low to mid teens; prices are shown with their lunch menu on their websites at www.blackbirdrestaurant.com and www.customhouse.cc
I recommend Giordano's for deep-dish pizza. They serve a double-crust, "stuffed" pizza, just a symphony of crust, cheese, sauce, and added ingredients (we don't call them "toppings" because they're below the top crust), with the outside edge having a nice "crunch" to it and the rest of it with the buttery taste characteristic of Chicago deep-dish (imparted in part by the seasoned deep-dish pans used). They have a location just a block from your hotel, at 223 W. Jackson Blvd. If you want to avoid waiting 30-40 minutes while seated for your pizza to bake, you can check out the menu on their website at www.giordanos.com and phone ahead with your pizza order (which you can do at any Chicago deep-dish pizza place). For single-crust "pan" pizza, the previous recommendation of Pizano's is a good one (about four blocks east).
For breakfast, I have several suggestions. Lou Mitchell's is a few blocks west, near Union Station, and has been there for generations. www.loumitchellsrestaurant.com Orange on Harrison is a few blocks south and has interesting egg and pancake specialties. My favorite breakfast place near the Loop is slightly further, a mile to the south - Bongo Room, at Wabash and Roosevelt Road.
One other possibility is Atwood Cafe, which serves contemporary American comfort food and has some interesting vegetarian items on the menu. Not inexpensive, but not ridiculous either. The menu on their website shows prices. www.atwoodcafe.com
The previous suggestion of Heaven on Seven on Wabash is a good one, if you like good Cajun food. Only open for breakfast and lunch (I think they do one dinner a month). www.heavenonseven.com Greek places in Greek Town are a good idea too, a short walk from your hotel; if you'd like to see a more extensive discussion (some people like other places more than Greek Islands), see www.chowhound.com/topics/119233
If you don't mind getting a cab or an el (subway), Chinatown is less than three miles away. I recommend Lao Sze Chuan. www.laoszechuan.com
Eight of the eleven suggestions above are affordably priced, with the other three exceptions already noted - and the latter may be perfectly suitable for lunch, which is why I included the lunch prices for two of them in my post. Furthermore, two of the three breakfast recommendations are priced similarly to Wishbone, and Lou Mitchell's is lower in price.
Wishbone on Washington is an excellent suggestion and it's open for dinner too. It has a number of vegetarian dishes, and most meals are served with 2 sides, plus corn muffins. So it is really reasonable.
And, you might want to consider Chinatown for dinner, as well as brunch. There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants there, with many veggie options. The Red Line El will take you right there.
Greek Islands at Adams and Halsted for excellent food for reasonable prices.
Greek Islands Restaurant - Chicago
200 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Theres a cool cozy Greek bakery / cafe about a block south too;
Artopolis Bakery Cafe
306 S. Halsted
Ginza Fish House
19 E Ohio St
Chicago, IL 60611-2707
Phone: (312) 222-0600
Cheap Cheap authentic Japanese sushi house
2057 W. North Avenue
Wicker Park / Chicago
Take the el to the damen, north, & milwaukee stop
Iberico Cafe & Bar
737 N La Salle Dr
Chicago, IL 60610
Great reasonably priced authentic Spanish Tapas in a vibrant atmosphere
avoid Heaven on Seven. If you have ever had real cajun food in New Orleans or elsewhere, Heaven on Seven will dissapoint. Some of the worst alleged cajun food I have had. Truly a disservice to out of town visitors when it is reccomended.
Greek Town is a good rec., We like Pegasus.
enjoy your visit.
Gotta disagree with you about Hon7 here; well, in part, and with the following provisos:
1. I would not recommend Hon7 to anyone who was very familiar with NOLA and nostalgic for the cuisine of such.
2. I would not recommend any Hon7 site except for the original in the Garland Bldng.
That being said it is one of the more interesting places in the area for breakfast or lunch and does have a few good nonmeat items (french toast banana foster, cheese grits). Just as long as you're not looking for fresh oysters for breakfast. (I believe it doesn''t open until 10:00 for breakfast on Saturday, by the way).
Three places that fit the bill:
Oasis Cafe at 17 South Wabash: Don't be fooled by the somewhat dingy food court thsi is in; its excellent middle eastern food with great daily specials.
Heaven on Seven at 111 South Wabash: This is the original location of a cajun restaurant that now has 3 or 4 local locations. This is on the 7th Floor of an office building, and I think it serves the best food of the bunch. It is packed a lunch, so expect a wait.
Pizano's on East Madison: If you want Chicago style pizza, this is proably the best place in the loop.
Cheap vegetarian is not a loop specialty -- lots more meat eaters downtown. That said, there are places that are not expensive and do have one or two non-meat items. especially for lunch. Dinner is going to be rough, as a lot of these places close at 2-3PM. For breakfast your best bet may be a cafeteria or a "Breakfast Bow".
Ever have an eggplant parm sandwich? Lukes has a fine example. For a giant salad-in-a-flatbread Pockets is the place to go. There are a few "Mediterranean" places that offer humus, tabbouleh, other non-meat staples. Whole Foods is barely walkable. Of course most Chicago pizza places will gladly assemble a cheese and/or veggie only pizza for you.
BTW The Club Quarters Hotel you'll be staying at is the most inconspicuous /invisible hotel I've ever walked past. Easy to mistake for just another office building.
21 N Wabash Ave Ste 11, Chicago, IL 60602
223 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606
Luke's Italian Beef
215 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60606
329 S Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60606
318 W Adams St, Chicago, IL
Whole Foods Market
1101 S Canal St, Chicago, IL