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Chicago Cheap Eats Comfort Food

FrugalDanny Jan 30, 2009 07:34 AM

I've been creating Google Satellite Maps of above average cheap eats comfort food places for cities across America on my website.

Chicago born and raised but its been a long time since lived in the area. Been to some of these, but need a current view from the Chicago chow thread. If you have any please post here. If any of the ones listed are not cutting the mustard let me know. Profile explains what I'm about. Hope they'll be useful to you. Thanks. Danny

These are the ones I have on the Chicago maps so far

Pizza Map
Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.
Gino's East
Home Run
Lou Malnati's
Pizzeria Uno
Pizzeria Due
Vito and Nick's

Hot Dogs Map
Skyway Dog House
Jim's Original
Portillo's Hot Dogs
Hot Doug's
Byron's Hot Dog Ha
Gene and Jude's Red Hot Stand
Jimmy's Red Hots
Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots

General Map
Al's No. 1 Italian Beef
Ann Sather's
Garrett Popcorn Shops
Kevin's Hamburger Heaven
Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli
Max's Italian Beef
Mr Beef On Orleans
Smoque BBQ
Valois Restaurant

  1. FrugalDanny Dec 17, 2009 04:21 AM

    Coming up to the 1 year anniversary of this thread!

    Current Chicago Cheap Eats Comfort Food List/Map members:
    Billy Goat Tavern
    Colemans Barbecue
    Corner Bakery Cafe
    Fish Keg
    Garrett Popcorn Shops
    Honey One BBQ
    Lawrences Fisheries
    Mannys Coffee Shop Deli
    Mr Beef On Orleans
    Poag Mahones
    Ribs N Bibs
    Smoque BBQ
    Stanleys Kitchen Tap
    Sun Wah Bar-B-Que
    Thats A Burger
    Top-Notch Beefburgers
    Uncle Johns Bar BQ
    Valois Restaurant

    Chicago Hot Dog List/Map
    Byrons Hot Dog Haus
    Clark Street Dog
    Fat Johnnies
    Gene and Judes Red Hot Stand
    Hot Dougs
    Jimmys Red Hots
    Jims Original
    Poochies Hot Dogs
    Portillos Hot Dogs
    Skyway Dog House
    Vienna Beef Factory Store Cafe
    Wiener Circle

    Chicago Pizza List/Map
    Armands Pizzeria
    Art Of Pizza
    Aurelios Pizza (Homewood)
    Burts Place
    Chicago Pizza Oven Grinder
    Connies Pizza
    Ed Joes Pizza
    Freddys Pizza
    Ginos East
    Giordanos Pizza
    Home Run Inn
    Johns Pizzeria
    Lou Malnatis Pizzeria
    Nicks Pizza Pub
    Pequods Pizzeria
    Pizanos Pizza Pasta
    Pizzeria Uno
    Pizzeria Duo
    Vito and Nicks Pizzeria

    4 Replies
    1. re: FrugalDanny
      gomexico Dec 17, 2009 04:44 AM

      How are you defining"cheap eats"? I ask because there are places on your list that wouldn't probably be considered "cheap" in price. Seems more like a "my favorites" list, which is okay - but declaring "cheap" might be a stretch.

      1. re: gomexico
        FrugalDanny Dec 17, 2009 08:38 AM

        Cheap Eats is hard to pin down. Yours may be different than Fred's.

        Basically for me I see it in a range : From Dirt Cheap Low-Down Hole-In-The-Wall Greasy Spoon Joints Roadhouses Shacks Cafeterias Carts Cantinas Huts Lunchwagons Pubs Saloons Smokehouses Taps Taverns Trailers Trucks Honkytonks Pits Stands Shantys Taquerias Dumps and Dives To a Bit More Upscale Good Value Cheap Eats Comfort Food Restaurants BBQs Broilers Cafes Chophouses Coffee Shops Delis Diners Drive-ins Grills Inns Luncheonettes Lunchcounters Kitchens Markets Meat-And-Threes Nooks Pantrys Parlors Pizzerias Ribhouses Rotisseres Supper Clubs WhatNots WhatEvers WhatsItsnames WhatChamacallits and everything in between...

        Keeping in mind that one can still eat on the cheap in places that may be considered pricey by carefully selecting cheaper dishes sharing apps salads skipping desserts expensive drinks and so on...

        quite a few are favorites from the Chowhounds here.

        which ones on the Chicago lists are kinda pricey to you

        1. re: FrugalDanny
          lulubelle Dec 18, 2009 10:24 AM

          Someone listed Glen's Diner, which I just went to for the first time last night. The food was excellent, but our bill was $153 for four people, which is not what I would consider "cheap eats". Granted we had a bottle of wine, 4 entrees and 3 desserts, but still, entrees average about 16-17 dollars, which is certainly not expensive, but not the same as going to Super Dawg.

          1. re: lulubelle
            FrugalDanny Dec 18, 2009 01:17 PM

            Looks like it depends...on when you go and what you order. Looking at the menu they do have cheaper choices for Breakfast and Lunch.
            1/2 lb cheeseburger for $8 or 3 napkin meatloaf sandwich $9 with a choice of side. Omelette $6....

            If you get there before 6 looks like they have special fish dinners(1/2 lb of seafood potatoes vegs with soup and salad) for under $15 - some may consider that a cheap eats for good seafood/fish.

    2. FrugalDanny Dec 17, 2009 03:58 AM

      mkslaw - thanks, like and will add Glenn's & Matisse

      Querencia - already have Stanley's Kitchen & Tap on the Chicago list /map - if you don't mind would like to add your comments to the listing and credit you.

      Glenn's Diner
      1820 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

      1. q
        Querencia Dec 16, 2009 04:26 PM

        I haven't read through this whole thread but has anybody mentioned Stanley's, a bar with lots of good food, corner of Lincoln and Sedgwick, parking impossible, and if you're doing CTA the easiest thing is to walk over from Clark as the Lincoln bus doesn't run as often as the Clark. Stanley's has uber-comfort food like fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, good macaroni & cheese, good pulled pork barbecue etc. Two or three days a week they do an all-you-can-eat buffet. Go to "chicago restaurant menus" to see this and 3000 other menus.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Querencia
          delk Dec 17, 2009 11:54 AM

          There is another Stanley's on Racine and VanBuren that has a parking lot.

        2. m
          mkslaw Dec 15, 2009 04:37 AM

          OMG ---- Glenn's Diner for EXCELLENT Soup, sides and Seafood--- NO JOKE

          Wildfire---best salads, steaks and sides

          Matisse - great skewers, tilapia, baked brie, spinach artichoke dip

          Reza's - great lamb dishes that melt in ur mouth --- good desserts

          1 Reply
          1. re: mkslaw
            lulubelle Dec 18, 2009 10:21 AM

            Went to Glen's for the first time last night! SO GOOD!!!!

          2. q
            Querencia Oct 15, 2009 06:44 PM

            The Red Apple, 3121 N Milwaukee (one block south of Belmont) is a small Polish restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of delicious homecooked Polish food for around $10. There's a free parking lot in the rear. See their website for a list of food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Querencia
              FrugalDanny Oct 19, 2009 05:56 PM

              I went out and looked at their website - incredible they can put a spread of fresh home made out like that for only $10. Lots of choices Price is right. Thanks for the heads up

              Red Apple Buffet
              3121 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

            2. p
              Pete Oldtown Feb 9, 2009 09:42 AM

              Stanley's on N. Lincoln (another location opened last year on the South Side, I think on S. Halstead) for weekend brunch buffet. $12 or so for all you can eat fried chicken, waffles, made-to-order omelets, incredible bacon, fruit, home fries, etc. Everything is fresh and tasty, and the fried chicken is among the best I have had in Chicago.

              They also have a buffet on Tuesday night with all you can eat ribs and other stuff.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pete Oldtown
                FrugalDanny Feb 9, 2009 11:26 AM

                looks good..added stanley's kitchen and tap on lincoln thanks

              2. b
                bakersma Feb 6, 2009 04:22 PM

                Hot Dog Map: Mustard's Last Stand in Evanston on Central by the NU stadium

                General Map: Walker Bros. Pancake Shop in Wilmette on GreenBay Rd (I know they have other shops as well but I've always liked the 'original')

                DIner Map: Sarkis on Gross Point Rd in Evanston (or is that over the line in Skokie ?)

                20 Replies
                1. re: bakersma
                  FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 04:56 PM

                  thank you i'll start working on em..

                  1. re: FrugalDanny
                    nsxtasy Feb 6, 2009 05:04 PM

                    Walker Brothers has six locations in the Chicago suburbs, with the Wilmette location being the first. They are a franchisee of the Original Pancake House, a chain based in Oregon, and the only franchisee allowed to put their own name on the business. I've been to numerous locations (both Walker and non-Walker) and the Walker Brothers consistently have the highest quality of the entire chain. The restaurants have a lot of wood and stained glass in the decor. They are best known for their huge, puffed-up, baked, cinnamony, apple pancake. www.walkerbrosoph.com

                    Another place that belongs on any list of "cheap eats" is Al's Deli. This is a tiny sandwich shop located in Evanston, owned by two brothers (retired from an ad agency, IIRC). Much of their business is carry-out although there are a few tiny tables and chairs inside. Their sandwiches are excellent, and they are also known for their wonderful homemade cookies; the chocolate chip cookies resemble the best homemade ones you've ever had in your life. www.alsdeli.net

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 05:15 PM

                      thanks. we do need some more deli's i'll look at al's what about Ashkenaz?

                      while i'm here i'm in a quandry almost as bad as being in a quarry..sorry..i've got a hot dog map and a pizza map, but i've only been putting city of chicago places in these... i've been throwing the suburbs pizza & dogs out in the general suburban map...i think i want to pull them back with the others and just consider the hot dog & pizza maps chicagoland ones...thoughts anyone....

                      1. re: FrugalDanny
                        abf005 Feb 6, 2009 05:33 PM

                        I thought Ashkenaz was no longer... I could be wrong on this, but you should check.

                        Go with Chicagoland, there are way too many great places that exist outside the city limits to not do as one.

                        Overall, my experience has been that here, unlike some other cities (LA & NY come to mind) Chicagoan's are much more open to traveling the width & length of the entire city to chow & socialize on a frequent basis.

                        I found this website to be extremely useful in explaining the region: http://www.wildonions.org/

                        1. re: abf005
                          FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 06:28 PM

                          can't find any dirt on askenaz..by the way i'm going to steal your push pin phrase but i thought i would ask first...

                          1. re: FrugalDanny
                            abf005 Feb 6, 2009 11:27 PM

                            Awesome! Please feel free to use it

                          2. re: abf005
                            FrugalDanny Feb 7, 2009 09:39 AM

                            interesting link...i used to traipse all over sf bay area for a good meal..good to hear people are moving freely in chicagoland..didn't always used to be that way for a lot of people...

                          3. re: FrugalDanny
                            nsxtasy Feb 7, 2009 01:18 AM

                            There are lots of delis in Chicago, both city and suburbs, including Kaufman's, Manny's, Max's, the Bagel, Schmaltz, etc. You'll find plenty of recommendations in these topics (the first one in particular):


                            I don't know if you want to bother drawing a distinction between delis that are exclusively carry-out (e.g. Kaufman's), primarily dine-in (the Bagel), or a mix of both (Schmaltz).

                            Ashkenaz apparently lives on at 12 E. Cedar in the Gold Coast, although some debate whether it can still compare with the "original". I haven't been there so I don't know.

                            Chicago has also lost some other Jewish delis over the years; those of us who have lived here a while fondly recall other long-gone places such as Sam and Hy's (in Skokie) and the Belden Corned Beef Center (originally in Lincoln Park at its namesake street, and later on Howard in Rogers Park bordering South Evanston).

                            1. re: nsxtasy
                              FrugalDanny Feb 7, 2009 07:08 AM

                              beautiful ....have manny's & kaufman's..any good deli however it's sliced...would taste and smell pretty nice...i think i feel a poem/song coming on..
                              looking at the rest now...

                              1. re: FrugalDanny
                                abf005 Feb 7, 2009 10:27 AM

                                Jewish Deli's are not what I would typically term as being "cheap eats" by any stretch! But if you differentiate between the styles of deli, they can become more affordable.

                                Given that premise, Kaufman's, Perry's & Burt’s Deli’s might qualify in that they all have carry-out options and no wait-staff, which makes them tremendously more affordable than the typical sit-down deli.

                                For example, I get my choice of amazingly fresh baked breads; hand sliced corned beef, and a pickle slice at Kaufman’s for about $8 vs. the sit down experience with the same food items (which are not as tasty and massive) at Max’s for about $20-25 (after tip). That is why I would put Kaufman’s on this type of list and not Max's for example. If you guys don’t agree, I understand.

                                Perry's, while not one of my top fav's as the "best" Chicago deli, is certainly very respectable and is what I call a great ”bang for the buck”, which exactly fits the genre of restaurants your after and is "pushpin" worthy.
                                Burt’s deli in Libertyville is great quality and decent prices.
                                Kaufman’s simply makes the best bagels, breads & corned beef anywhere. Add in the fact that you can get a fresh sandwich of their tremendous ingredients to-go, makes them the best deli values in the country.

                                Lost Chicago deli’s; someone should write a pictorial book on this topic! Zwigs, Pickle Barrel, Barnum & Bagel…

                                1. re: abf005
                                  nsxtasy Feb 7, 2009 12:21 PM

                                  While that $20-25 sandwich might be expensive compared with a carry-out, it's still a reasonably-priced meal compared with dining at most "white tablecloth restaurants". And besides, I think FrugalDanny is trying to be as inclusive as possible in compiling his list. It's up to him, of course, but my suggestion would be to include all of these places (which also avoids any arguments over which one is the best representation of the genre).

                                  1. re: nsxtasy
                                    FrugalDanny Feb 8, 2009 08:54 AM

                                    i've included al's kaufman's perry's ashkenaz manny's & max's..

                                    agree i'm pushing the limits. but can be done if one is careful... if you're eating "light" one could share an over stuffed corned beef etc or save half for another bite later or get a bologna and water!
                                    .......max's breakfast is fairly low priced...although tempted by the sides i would just do the corned beef and a browns... don't know if they do half sands...perry's specials look good..

                              2. re: nsxtasy
                                lulubelle Feb 8, 2009 08:26 PM

                                Samuel's on Broadway near Addison. They made the best meatloaf sandwiches. I was so sad to hear they closed last year.

                                1. re: lulubelle
                                  FrugalDanny Feb 9, 2009 11:14 AM

                                  i love a good meatloaf - still searching for one as good as mom's...their prices look good to me..i'm adding samuel's

                                  oh oh..as soon as i said that i find info that they're closed...true?

                                  1. re: FrugalDanny
                                    nsxtasy Feb 9, 2009 01:55 PM

                                    Yes. In fact, the post above yours with that recommendation mentions that they closed.

                            2. re: nsxtasy
                              lindygal Feb 20, 2009 03:50 PM

                              I LOVE Walker Brothers for breakfast!!! Particularly the Green Bay Road location in Wilmette. Too bad they don't have a South Side location, or I'd be there every weekend.

                              1. re: lindygal
                                nsxtasy Feb 20, 2009 04:13 PM

                                >> I LOVE Walker Brothers for breakfast!!! Particularly the Green Bay Road location in Wilmette. Too bad they don't have a South Side location, or I'd be there every weekend.

                                If you have a hankering for Walker Brothers food, you can always try one of the Original Pancake House locations on the south side, close to you.

                                Walker Brothers is a franchisee of the Original Pancake House, a national franchise based in Portland, Oregon. Walker Brothers is the only franchisee permitted to put their own name on the restaurant; all others carry the Original Pancake House name.

                                In addition to their distinctive stained glass and wood decor, Walker Brothers is distinguished by a strong commitment to the highest standards of quality and consistency in the food. They are just superb, and I love them too.

                                There are non-Walker Brothers locations of the Original Pancake House in the city of Chicago and the suburbs. Ones on the south side are located in Hyde Park and at 10437 South Western Ave. (not sure what neighborhood that is), and in the suburbs of Orland Park, Oak Forest, and Merrillville. The menu at these is very similar to the one at Walker Brothers, including the apple pancake.

                                I have eaten at numerous non-Walker locations of the Original Pancake House here as well as in other cities across the country. Some of them have been very good to excellent (including the one in Merrillville), others not worth recommending (including the one in Brookfield WI, near Milwaukee).


                                P.S. Welcome to Chowhound - I'm enjoying your posts! Now I gotta go try those onion rings at Fox's... ;)

                            3. re: FrugalDanny
                              FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 07:33 PM

                              Hot Dogs :Mustard's Last Stand
                              Suburban Map: Walker Bros. Pancake Shop in Wilmette & Sarkis

                              thank you!

                              1. re: FrugalDanny
                                nsxtasy Feb 7, 2009 01:24 AM

                                The precise name should be Walker Brothers Original Pancake House.

                            4. re: bakersma
                              FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 07:30 PM

                              al's deli done thanks

                            5. 5
                              50sGuy Feb 5, 2009 08:24 PM

                              Bohemian Crystal in Westmont has big plates of Eastern European comfort food at very reasonable prices. Pork, duck, dumplings, gravy, yum.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: 50sGuy
                                FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 04:56 PM

                                i'll take a look thank you

                                1. re: 50sGuy
                                  FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 07:51 PM

                                  bohemian crystal done. thanks! interesting name..

                                2. q
                                  Querencia Feb 5, 2009 11:47 AM

                                  Somebody should mention this so I will. A bargain downtown is Northwestern Memorial Hospital, entire block defined by Erie, Huron, St Clair, and Fairbanks. For non-local people, this is one block off Michigan Avenue in the heart of the shopping district. Go to the second floor and ask your way to the big cafeteria (right next to the little expensive Au Bon Pain place). It's called something like Spice of Life or Lifey Spice or something like that. It's best at the lunch hour when all the food stations are open but you can get a meal there just about any time. Best deals are a plate of pasta for <$4 and a big custom-made sandwich for <$4. Full meal meat-2 veg etc runs about $6.50. The public is very welcome. It's not the worst food you ever ate and it costs about 30% of anything else in the neighborhood. BTW if you go on Sunday and the door is locked, go to the auto court halfway between St Clair and Fairbanks---doors there are always open. Also, if you are looking for cheap, forget the salad bar and stay with the cooked food and sandwiches.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Querencia
                                    abf005 Feb 5, 2009 12:37 PM

                                    A company cafeteria? Sounds scary! I used to manage an account and NMH was the customer. I never found the food in the cafe to be noteworthy. But in it's defence; I've never found ANY company cafeterias food noteworthy of any kind of recommendation...

                                    Although for some reason, that post reminds of the Venice Cafe, which undoubtedly fits the bill for "cheap eats", but I dont think of it as a tremendous tasting experience either, comments??

                                    L'Appetito in the Hancock center was one of my favs when I worked there, they deserve a pushpin, they had allot of value and quality there in spite of the Michigan Avenue address.

                                    1. re: abf005
                                      bakersma Feb 6, 2009 04:13 PM

                                      Since we're talking company cafeterias, how about the Vienna Beef Factory Store & Cafe' out at 2501 North Damen Avenue ?

                                      Ate lunch out there on one of my trips to Chicago area.....didn't have a car with me downtown that day so it seems like I rode the El out towards where the Busy Bee used to be and then took a city bus the rest of the way.

                                      I thought it was a pretty interesting experience and needless to say the hot dogs were certainly fresh and reasonably priced. Not practical to take anything home from the company store while keeping it cold since it was a hot summer day but one of these trips I'll find my way out there again. (It is still in business & open to the public, isn't it ?)

                                      1. re: bakersma
                                        FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 05:29 PM

                                        i was thinking about the factory store early this week - i think it needs to be on the hot dog page no doubt....also am confident it's still there...if it isn't then we are really in big trouble economically...it's like the vatican of chicago style hot dogs - they did make it through the depression...when times get tough a hot dog is a good cheap eats comfort food... (:-D)

                                        their cafe opens at 6:00 am too early for a hot dog?

                                    2. re: Querencia
                                      FrugalDanny Feb 6, 2009 07:55 PM

                                      it's great news that you can get good cheap eats at a hospital..i'm looking to see if i can dig up some info and be able to pushpin this...by the way i'm reading good ratings for the hospital and that the doctors are reliable & trustworthy...

                                      1. re: FrugalDanny
                                        lulubelle Feb 8, 2009 08:23 PM

                                        My friend used to work across the street from the hospital, and he and his work buddy ate lunch there at least a couple times a week. The food was decent and the prices far better than any others in the neighborhood.

                                    3. abf005 Feb 5, 2009 09:08 AM

                                      Another thread reminded me of two more area classics:

                                      White Fence Farm
                                      Dell Rhea's

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: abf005
                                        FrugalDanny Feb 5, 2009 09:16 AM

                                        good for you...i actually made my dinner which was a good cheap eat...figured 26th...got dell rhea's out in willowbrook..thks mucho for the others...

                                        ps i'm looking at the fish keg - beautiful! i could live there...great sign

                                      2. abf005 Feb 4, 2009 08:32 AM

                                        Cheap eats additions:
                                        Ricobene's - Chicago Breaded steak sandwich & pizza
                                        Maxwell St Depot on 31st - Maxwell St Polishes, hand cut fries & pork chops
                                        Hero's Subs on Addison

                                        Nicks drive inn - Niles
                                        Mr Gyros - Greektown

                                        Mexican- (This could be a whole monster list on its own!)
                                        Las Asadas
                                        La Pasadita

                                        Barnaby's of Northbrook (also several other locations)
                                        Wells brothers - Racine, WI (this is google right?)
                                        Gigio's- Uptown & Evanston

                                        Big Ed's - North Chicago Chicago style BBQ

                                        Pita Inn

                                        Lou Mitchell's
                                        Maple St
                                        Franks Diner, Kenosha WI

                                        Mickey Finns - Libertyville
                                        Charlie Beinlich's - Northbrook
                                        Moody's Pub

                                        Swedish Bakery - Andersonville

                                        Recommend for removal:
                                        McCormick & Schmidts- it is a national chain of 80 restaurants based and started out of Portland, OR. It has no more significant value or presence to the Chicago eating scene than a Ruth Chris (on the high end) or a TGI Fridays. If you want a add Chicago steakhouses there is an extensive thread with almost every establishment listed here on Chowhound. I would recommend that at a minimum Gibson's be on the list and maybe Morton's on Rush (the original location of the now national chain)

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: abf005
                                          FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 08:52 AM

                                          thanks nice list appreciate the effort will start looking.

                                          ya know i tend to agree with you on the chain deal - was my first reaction when i saw it surface here and another thread and only included it with a note that it was just for happy hour...i usually try to not put a chain location down unless there's a reason - i put down the aurelio's in homewood in the greater chicago list but no others because its the original and i first ate there 1959 when it was on ridge rd and joe was my server and because its the best and still good in mho - so that's a sentimental nod... there are national chains local chains small and large some people like just mom & pop joints and others have a broader view....its a real pickle of a dilemma almost a real quandary. one that evolves as i move deeper into the american cheap eats comfort food landscape. (:-D)

                                          1. re: FrugalDanny
                                            abf005 Feb 4, 2009 12:58 PM

                                            Chains are a funny beast; and as a rule I loath them. But I do differentiate between them in this manor: Local based vs National or out of area based.

                                            I will generally support anything local, including local chains, everything else is subject to more serious scrutiny!

                                            Local chains: Portillo's, Browns chicken, Lou Malnati's, Giordanos, Pepe's, Morton's, Lalo's

                                            Out of area- not quite national yet, but spreading fast and we somehow are one of the markets:Culver's (WI), Jimmy Johns & La Bamba (downstate IL), Cousins (MN)

                                            National: TGI Friday's, Applebees, Max & Ermas, , CPK- California Pizza, Chipotle, pretty much anything in Gurnee or anywhere USA, you get the picture...

                                            My recommendation would be that anything in the later two categories should not appear on the type of list you are trying to compile.

                                            Nice effort, I'm interested to see the google link.

                                            1. re: abf005
                                              nsxtasy Feb 4, 2009 01:08 PM

                                              Perhaps we can agree to make an exception by permitting the retention of the original downtown location ONLY of Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due. Uno is where deep-dish Chicago pizza was born, in 1943. It expanded into a nationwide chain, called Uno Chicago Grill, whose headquarters are now in Boston. I think the exception is worth making because (a) it originated here at the same location where it still operates, (b) it created one of Chicago's best-known local specialty foods, and (c) the pizza in its original locations is still excellent, unlike all the other locations where it's dreadful (not that I've tried all of them though).

                                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                                abf005 Feb 4, 2009 01:40 PM

                                                I concur; Pizzeria Uno & Due are musts, but the chain derivitive "Uno's Chicago bar & grill" should be omitted without regard. But trying each one to confirm poor consistency is like trying to find an acceptable Pizza Hut, it wont happen! I've tried exactly three of the chains and I can confirm; they all sucked equally.

                                                But if we follow that logic, does McDonald's #1 on Lee St in Des Plaines get a pushpin on the map of Chicago too?? I guess I'd say to a tourest: "go see the McDonalds #1 museum, but eat next door at Las Asadas..."

                                              2. re: abf005
                                                FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 02:12 PM

                                                thanks ...i can't post a direct link , but the mods have allowed me to put my site in my profile here.

                                                also i agree about uno & duo I have only listed the original locations! I have eaten at them and also the chain and well....

                                                i have to admit i would be temped to put mcdonalds no 1 on the greater chicago list! (:-D)

                                                also wondering if the original macdonald's in greater la is still around...

                                            2. re: abf005
                                              nsxtasy Feb 4, 2009 09:09 AM

                                              I don't know whether you want to list bakeries, but if you do, this discussion mentions a lot of them, including website links: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/542316

                                              I agree with abf005 that McCormick & Schmick shouldn't be listed, for the reason he stated. What's interesting about McCormick & Schmick is that in some cities, they entered the market by buying a long-time independent seafood restaurant and continuing to operate it under the same name (e.g. Spenger's in Berkeley). However, that's not what they did in Chicago. Here, they merely opened new locations under their own name, starting with the one in the Gold Coast. So it's strictly a national chain here, by any definition.

                                              Seafood restaurants are not typically associated with "cheap eats", but if you want to include them, I would suggest these locally-based restaurants:

                                              Shaw's Crab House - www.shawscrabhouse.com (two locations, Chicago and Schaumburg, part of the local Lettuce Entertain You empire)
                                              Fulton's on the River - www.levyrestaurants.com (yes, Levy is a chain too, but each location maintains its own unique identity)
                                              Hugo's Frog Bar - www.hugosfrogbar.com (locations in Chicago and Naperville, part of the Gibson's Steakhouse group)
                                              Catch 35 - www.catch35.com (locations in Chicago and Naperville)
                                              Davis Street Fishmarket - www.davisstreetfishmarket (locations in Evanston and Schaumburg)
                                              Bob Chinn's - www.bobchinns.com (one of the largest independent restaurants in the country)

                                              My favorite seafood restaurant in the Chicago area is Mitchell's Fish Market in Glenview, but it's part of a regional chain based in Ohio, so it probably doesn't qualify.

                                              Steakhouses, too, are not typically associated with "cheap eats", but if you want to include them, the discussion topic mentioned by abf005 can be found at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/359377

                                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                                FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 09:33 AM

                                                i loved spenger's in berserkley in the old days... must have eaten there over 100 times...great place to take the kids... i'm not attached to mcCormack & schmicks so will get rid of it if no objections..agree that steakhouses usually don't fit the category... there are exceptions...i'm remembering one in amarillo and another in fort worth at the moment...seafood depends too... depends where you are in the country..clam huts in maine....fish houses down south...asian places...fish & chips joints. ..ivars fish bar in seattle was cheap last i was there....some seafood restaurants but not usually - remembering good cheap ones in charleston & beaufort sc.....i will take a look at the bakeries...thks..time for lunch...

                                                1. re: nsxtasy
                                                  abf005 Feb 4, 2009 10:20 AM

                                                  I almost forgot!! The BEST cheap eats seafood:

                                                  Lawrence fisheries
                                                  Fish Keg on Howard (my all time fav)

                                                  Make me sad that Joe's by Goose Island closed all those years ago (tear)... Ain't nothing quite like a oil stained paper bag of steaming hot fresh fried shrimp!!

                                                  1. re: abf005
                                                    FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 10:49 AM

                                                    ahhh..thks (:-D)

                                                    you make those shrimp sound great...

                                                    i'm now thinking about shrimp & oyster po-boys in louisiana

                                                    1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                      abf005 Feb 4, 2009 01:45 PM

                                                      hmm, yes, true Cajun, dare I say we make a stop for some chickory coffee as well??

                                                      I get the sense you're a traveling chowhound like me...

                                                      1. re: abf005
                                                        FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 02:08 PM

                                                        yes I travel a lot. and i eat a lot (:-D)..

                                                2. re: abf005
                                                  FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 04:47 PM

                                                  right now looking at ricobene's i'm thinking it's a local that has spread - which is the one that represents? on 26th? and should that go on my pizza map ? see ya in an hour gotta go watch Lost..

                                                  1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                    abf005 Feb 5, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                    FrugalDanny: Sorry for delay in getting back, I went out for diner and missed Lost - go figure, a chowhound that eats dinner out every night!! Guess you know where my priorities are.

                                                    the original Ricobene's is indeed on 26th, and they should appear in two categories: Breaded Steak sandwich & Italian beef - unique Chicago (sandwiches & comfort food) and Pizza.

                                                    Big Jacks in Round Lake Park, IL on Hainsville rd deserves a pushpin for greater Chicagoland great cheap eats. Trust me on this one, the rest of the world is discovering this gem fast! They just doubled the size of the dining area & restaurant to accommodate the demand.

                                                    Kaufman's Bagel deli in Skokie needs to be here;
                                                    a) best corned beef in the US
                                                    b) best bagel in the Chicagoland area, and possibly the country
                                                    c) Although there is no sit down area, they make amazing deli sandwiches fresh to go for great price.

                                                    1. re: abf005
                                                      Alan N Nov 16, 2009 10:59 PM

                                                      Good call with Kaufman's for bagels.

                                                      1. re: Alan N
                                                        FrugalDanny Nov 17, 2009 03:39 PM

                                                        Have Kaufman's out on the Chicago Metro map. Can't link here but our good hearted moderators have let me put the Website on my profile - from whence you can get to the various Chicago maps. Thanks everyone.

                                                3. j
                                                  jesteinf Feb 1, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                  Any list like this is incomplete without Sun Wah. Outstanding Chinese BBQ (and other stuff) at absurdly low prices. The Beijing Duck dinner in one of (if not) the best deals in the city. They bring out a whole duck and carve off some meat to fold into pancakes. The carcass is then taken back into the kitchen and is turned into a giant bowl of soup and a huge plate of fried rice. You also get sorbet for dessert. Total price? $30. Not per person...total. One dinner easily serves 4 people.

                                                  Sun Wah
                                                  1132-34 W. Argyle St.
                                                  (773) 769-1254

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: jesteinf
                                                    FrugalDanny Feb 1, 2009 08:04 PM

                                                    i'm reluctant to add it because of chicago health inspectors closing it in Nov.

                                                    1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                      jesteinf Feb 2, 2009 06:33 AM

                                                      I'm sorry, but that's absurd. I don't think anyone who has been to Sun Wah would be concerned regarding the safety of the food there. Again, leaving off Sun Wah from your list would be a pretty significant omission.

                                                      1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                        Caralien Feb 4, 2009 07:06 AM

                                                        Sun Wah is great for their roast duck or chicken. It really is that good.

                                                        Sun Wah Bar-B-Que
                                                        1134 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640

                                                        1. re: Caralien
                                                          FrugalDanny Feb 4, 2009 07:58 AM

                                                          gosh i'm starting to feel some pressure...i'm going to put it back as well as weiner circle..but if there's another closure...my favorite mex place in hayward, ca back in the 80's kept getting closed and i remained loyal and kept coming back until the last time when they were closed for recycling food left on plates...there's a fine balance in keeping prices low and serving good cheap eats... (:-D)

                                                    2. o
                                                      Original Kman Jan 31, 2009 12:22 PM

                                                      If Al's, Max's, and Mr. Beef are on the list then Johnnie's is a MUST:

                                                      Johnnie's Beef
                                                      7500 W. North Ave., Elmwood Park
                                                      Tel: (708) 452-6000
                                                      11AM - Midnight M-Sat, Noon-Midnight Sundays

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Original Kman
                                                        FrugalDanny Jan 31, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                        agree ....it's already on my Greater Chicago map..

                                                      2. g
                                                        gordeaux Jan 31, 2009 05:39 AM

                                                        Your mustard is only about 3/4 cut so far. how do you even THINK about a Chicago cheap eats comfort food list map and exclude Indian/Pakistani food?
                                                        A few of my fave joints:
                                                        Ghareeb Nawaz
                                                        2032 W Devon Ave
                                                        Chicago, IL 60659

                                                        Khan B.B.Q
                                                        2401 W Devon
                                                        Chicago, IL 60645

                                                        Also, I agree you might wanna think about a Chicago Q joint. Smoque is great, but it ain't Chicago q.

                                                        Honey 1
                                                        2241 N Western Ave
                                                        Chicago, IL 60647
                                                        (773) 227-5130

                                                        Uncle John's BBQ (my favorite of these two)
                                                        337 E 69th Street
                                                        Chicago, IL 60619

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: gordeaux
                                                          FrugalDanny Jan 31, 2009 06:58 AM

                                                          just so happens that last night certain q joints were added....i didn't know chicago had it's own q identity seems to range from carsons to uncle's...which one is chicago q...and now Khan's...

                                                          have texas (east south central western) carolina georgia memphis kansas city st. louis que pages on my website hadn't even thought about giving chicago its own ....

                                                          1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                            gordeaux Jan 31, 2009 07:57 AM

                                                            well, you're gonna start a riot over the "Which is Chicago Q" inquiry.
                                                            The answer is BOTH. My preference, however, by FAR, would be Uncle John's.
                                                            Chicago can be known for two types of Q - fall off the bone baby back ribs, or smoked, toothy spares and tips. Hot links are another prevalent offering in Chicago Q joints. I don't think the great Q debate flood waters need to be opened, but it's possible that they might be.

                                                            On the N side of Chicago, along Devon avenue is the highest concentration of Indian/Pakistani shops/restaurants on this continent outside of some city in Canada whose name escapes me at the moment. Yes, the Indo/Pak joints are FANTASTIC here - especially for cheap eats. When I go out of town for chunks of time, my usual homecoming dirt cheap comfort foods are Mexican, Thai, and Pakistani. Those are the foods I miss the most when I'm out of town in a place that does not have the diverse culture we have here.

                                                            1. re: gordeaux
                                                              FrugalDanny Jan 31, 2009 08:12 AM


                                                              i promise to devote some time to the pakistani phenomena in chicago..

                                                              will do my part to suppress q disorder....

                                                              right now on my chow portland thread PHO is of great interest..also showing up for philly la and i've been eating here in mn.

                                                              1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                                abf005 Feb 4, 2009 08:37 AM

                                                                Gerard St in Toronto is the only place outside of India with a higher concentration of India population than Chicago.

                                                                Bhabi's Kitchen should make the list.

                                                              2. re: gordeaux
                                                                abf005 Feb 4, 2009 08:35 AM

                                                                I promise I will remain silent on the religion of BBQ this time!

                                                                1. re: gordeaux
                                                                  lindygal Feb 20, 2009 03:47 PM

                                                                  I'm for smoked baby back ribs as the ultimate Chicago style, but I'll eat smoked spares, too -- and I have three favorites since Carson's diminished in stature:

                                                                  Fat Willy's east of Logan Square, across from the City North movie theaters (they make a dynamite mac and cheese side dish, too);

                                                                  Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe and BBQ, on 95th Street at Central Ave., for excellent, fully smoked ribs, brisket, and really fine pulled pork plus Chuck's own Chicago wings (ask for the honey BBQ sauce with the wings!); and

                                                                  The Patio, on Harlem near 92nd Street in Bridgeview -- really good ribs, either eat in or takeout, but ask for the sauce on the side to fully appreciate the fine taste of the meat; they also have a location on 159th in Orland Park, but I like the Harlem location better.

                                                                  But I still miss the ribs and the GREAT scalloped potatoes from the original Carson's in Skokie ...

                                                            2. nsxtasy Jan 30, 2009 10:16 AM

                                                              We have a lot of categories of "cheap eats" and many of them are not even represented in the list above. But first, let's take a look at that list...

                                                              On the "Pizza Map", the list is heavy on deep-dish "pizza in the pan", and that's a good thing! However, it omits local chains featuring deep-dish "stuffed pizza", including Giordano's (with 40 locations in the Chicago area), Edwardo's, and Bacino's. It also omits thin crust and especially single-location specialty pizza places like Spacca Napoli and Coal Fire.

                                                              The "Hot Dog Map" looks okay.

                                                              The "General Map" is really quite a hodge-podge of different kinds of food, with many cases where a single restaurant has been chosen to represent an entire genre. For example, Smoque is a good place for barbecue - like some of the other choices, it's not exactly "cheap eats" but it's a good representation. But there are so many more local places where you can get barbecue in the same price range: Honey 1, Carson's, Uncle John's, etc. I would think you would want to be as inclusive with barbecue as with the hot dog category, no? Similarly, Manny's is the only deli represented, but there are many others locally, both old and new; not that Manny's is a bad choice, only that it's odd to pick only one and leave all the others out, when that's not true of other categories. Same thing with hamburgers - ten places for hot dogs, but only one for burgers???

                                                              As for categories that aren't represented at all, there are a lot of types of ethnic food that comprise many of our leading contenders for "cheap eats", including Greek (and the concentration in Greek Town in the West Loop), Indian/Pakistani (and the concentration on Devon Avenue), Vietnamese (and the concentration on Argyle), Chinese (and the concentration in Chinatown), Thai (TAC Quick, Spoon Thai, Thai Sookdee, and many others), Mexican (including conventional Mexican, creative/provincial Mexican, and taco stands), Italian (with popularly-priced bistro type places all over the city), French (more bistros), etc. Ethnic foods are America's new "comfort foods", with virtually every small town in the country featuring Chinese, Mexican, Thai, etc. And some non-ethnic categories are missing, too. What about diners and coffee shops (e.g. Eleven City Diner, Tempo Cafe, White Palace Grill)? You could also write a book about places that feature breakfast, including those that simply specialize in egg and pancake dishes as well as those that serve other foods but do a good brunch on weekends - comfort food indeed! You could do an entire "map" of each of these categories. And that still leaves lots more ethnicities and other types of food. The restaurant listings on Metromix at http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants let you search by type of cuisine, and they break it down into 98 different categories!

                                                              Here are some links to other discussion topics that may be a good source for additional suggestions:


                                                              French bistrot:






                                                              Hot dogs:

                                                              Quintessential Chicago:

                                                              Brunch and Breakfast:




                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: nsxtasy
                                                                FrugalDanny Jan 30, 2009 10:33 AM

                                                                thks much...my lists are the initial take to get the maps up...i fully expect these maps to get much bigger...multiple joints for the same category - no problem...since working with the other threads I have on chow I soon threw away my preconceived notion of what comfort food is in america...on the portland thread I even started thinking of a separate PHO map...i try to stay away from really large chains but will pick a standout to represent...

                                                                .appreciate you providing these links I'll start with them they should be a good "beginning" (:-D)

                                                              2. Caralien Jan 30, 2009 08:10 AM

                                                                Korean Restaurant is basically a 24 hour Korean diner
                                                                Ringos serves fresh, cheap sushi and sashimi, BYO
                                                                Billy Goat under the bridge for kitsch value and great burgers
                                                                Ann Sather's--the worst service I've ever had in my life, during the daytime, while the place was empty (I nearly walked over to the waiter's stand to pick up my omelet which had been sitting there for awhile while the 2 waiters chatted; no coffee or water refills either); free sticky buns haven't convinced me to ever return
                                                                McCormick & Schmick's happy hour--late afternoon and late night, particularly for the burgers and fries

                                                                Ringo Resaurant
                                                                2507 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

                                                                Korean Restaurant
                                                                2659 W Lawrence, Chicago, IL

                                                                Billy Goat Tavern
                                                                430 N Michigan Ave Lowr 1, Chicago, IL 60611

                                                                McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
                                                                41 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Caralien
                                                                  FrugalDanny Jan 30, 2009 08:40 AM

                                                                  ok I'll start on these and sounds like ann's should be off..thks


                                                                  1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                                    Caralien Jan 30, 2009 09:48 AM

                                                                    A lot of people continue to love Ann Sather. If you remove it, someone is likely to ask you why you omitted it.


                                                                    1. re: FrugalDanny
                                                                      lindygal Feb 20, 2009 03:37 PM

                                                                      Nah, gotta disagree there -- Ann Sather's still makes great breakfasts (I like the Swedish pancakes with a side of ham and eggs and *lots* of lingonberry preserves), and who doesn't LOVE those cinnamon rolls, especially when they come out warm from the oven?? I could live on those cinnamon rolls, but my butt and waist couldn't take it. Still, they're a worthwhile indulgence every once in a while ...

                                                                      1. re: lindygal
                                                                        nsxtasy Feb 20, 2009 03:59 PM

                                                                        Try the cinnamon swirl rolls in the bakery department at Fox & Obel. They're not as cinnamony as Ann's but they're extremely rich and yummy, easily the best I've ever had! If the bakery counter is out, they also often have them in the cafe. www.fox-obel.com

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