Back to Chicago for 2 months - need recs
I'm temporarily back in Chicago (where I grew up) for the next 2 months and want to explore as much of the foodie (and shopping) scene as I can. Technically, I'm from the suburbs, so even though I know the city better than a lot of suburbians, I still don't know it as well as I'd like. Having mapped out places I'd like to try, I seem to not have many places in the neighborhoods I enjoy the most.
I usually explore Wicker Park, Lakeview/Wrigleyville, the downtown (Michigan Ave, etc) area, and Lincoln Park. I have a few Mexican joints along N. Ashland and N. Milkwaukee in Wicker Park. I'm mostly looking for cheap/affordable (less tahn $20/person) lunch spots, but also open to dinner spots and pubs (i.e. similar to Hopleaf, Hop Haus, etc) if I'm in the area at night. Ideas for a solo luncher would be nice too. I really don't have any cuisine preferences - I'm really open to anything. Lastly, places to grab a snack or dessert would be nice too!
For more specific locations - the areas I mostly need recs for are the Belmont&Clark area and the Halsted&Armitage area. Areas within walking distance of these and/or appropriate for a young adult type are certainly welcome as well. Nearest L stops will also be helpful. I just moved from NYC, so as long as it's in a safe and pedestrian friendly area, I'm willing to walk far from those above intersections.
Orange is right at the Clark and Belmont intersection (on Clark) and is a great place for brunch! (You'll most likely have wait if you go on the weekend, as is the case with any good brunch place in Chicago).
I agree that you should head up to the Argyle stop for Vietnamese - any order of pho will be pretty cheap and it's so good!
Cozy Noodles is also one of my personal favorites (I usually go to the Evanston location but there is also one in Wrigleyville) - cheap and good Thai.
Another place I really like is Tango Sur - inexpensive and wonderful Argentinian food (the empanadas and steaks are great). Another one that gets crowded and often has a wait but it's BYOB and has outdoor seating... I always wait b/c it's worth it!
Good luck re-exploring the city!
3763 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
3231 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657
Cozy Noodle & Rice
3456 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Don't know a lot of stuff over that way, but, Standard India at 917 W Belmont is really good and cheap and Art of Pizza on Ashland and Wellington has pretty good pizza, not Chicago style, not New York style...kinda their own thing. If you make it over to Wicker Park, Piece has great pizza and brew their own beer...great lunch spot, nights are a bit obnoxious (think Karaoke meets Sports Bar), but, the pizza, beer and desserts are delicious. Also, Las Palmas on North Ave and Honore is a great brunch/lunch spot...a little pricey for dinner, but, high end food at reasonable prices for lunch and brunch on weekends.
Hope that helps a little.
1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Art of Pizza
3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Standard India Restaurant
917 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Las Palmas Restaurant
1835 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
I would recommend in Wicker Park/Bucktown at the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection, Earwax, Bongo Room, Handle Bar (all for Brunch/Lunch, Bongo Room does not do dinner but the other two do), in Rosco Village Kitch'n is great and for splurge Kaze for sushi (Damen and Roscoe). In Lakeview Wakamono has great sushi and there is Ping Pong (Buckingham and Broadway). Up north in Uptown there is Siam Noodle (great Thai, super cheap) just South of Leland on the West side of Broadway.
From Belmont/Clark I would recommend going a little further north on the Red Line L to TAC Quick at the Sheridan stop for excellent Thai food, or to the Argyle stop for Vietnamese (and Chinese at Sun Wah. though they are currently on vacation until July 16).
Near Halsted and Armitage I've enjoyed cupcakes at Sweet Mandy B's on Webster.
More general suggestion: try using Google Maps. First get the map for the intersection of Halsted and Armitage. Then click "search nearby" and type in "site:chowhound.com" Of course, you'll need to follow up by clicking on the actual posts, since the place may have been discussed as being particularly bad! Or the post may be a few years old and the place has since gone out of business. I'd also recommend doing this search technique with "site:lthforum.com", which is another great resource for Chicago food.
The Great Neighborhood restaurant list on aforementioned lthforum.com might be the best resource for what you are looking for.
On a side note, you'd need to walk a long long way from either of those intersections before you'd feel unsafe. You'd get bored and wish you'd taken the El before you'd feel unsafe.