Cheap eats/large portions
Again, during this bad economy, its good to know where to get the best bang for your buck. Where to go? Let's say less than 20 bucks per person not incl drinks throughout Chicagoland.
In particular the Beijing Duck. A full duck, carved tableside. Served along with pancakes, etc. They take the carcass back to the kitchen and return with a huge bowl of soup and also a big plate of fried rice made from what's left of the duck. Then you get dessert. The total cost of this is $30 and it easily feeds 4.
Everything on the menu at Sun Wah is very reasonably priced, but the Beijing Duck is an absolute steal.
Having just returned from Sun Wah with a group of 4 who shared the Beijing Duck and wine we brought (BYOB), I am stuffed and happy. What a bargain and what a meal: the best duck I've ever eaten, with a story behind it (e.g. the pancakes for the duck are actually Thai hot dog buns). The dessert is housemade sorbet, and the perfect palate cleanser after such a rich meal -- although don't let a term like "palate cleanser" give you any funny ideas: this place is bare bones and authentic. Totally the real deal. To quote Kelly, the owner's daughter and our delightful and quirky duck carver, "Quack quack."
I'd been meaning to do the Peking Duck for ages and your post got me going. I took my daughter and her boyfriend there tonight and the duck was fantastic. They ended up taking enough soup and fried rice home for another meal for two. The service was great (Laura, a daughter of the owner, who pointed out that working in a family business is just like a job without the pay...she is a culinary school grad and will probably run her own restaurant sometime soon) and the place was incredibly cheerful, with little kids running around.
I'll be back. A lot. I only had a small plate one time a few years ago, and it was fine. But the duck was superb.
I believe the "family style" dinner at The Parthenon Restaurant on Halsted St is still just under $20. There's a wide variety of food served (saganaki, taramosalata, gyros, Greek salad, dolmades, pastisio, lamb, dessert) and plenty of it. Worth a visit.
Brunch on weekends at Stanley's on Lincoln Ave. ($12.95 for all you can eat, including outstanding fried chicken) and all you can eat fish and chips at Duke of Perth on Clark, Wed. and Fri. nights. The best fish and chips I have had in Chicago. It's around $10.
The hands-down winner has to be The Red Apple. Actually there are two, one on Milwaukee at Hamlin, east side of street, a block south of Belmont. Other one is on Milwaukee on west side of street a block north of Devon. Both are all-you-can-eat Polish smorgasbords with at least a dozen meat entrees, I would say closer to twenty, plus everything else (several kinds of potatoes, potato pancakes, pastas, filled pierogies, vegetables), a salad bar with a lot of ethnic salads and meat gels, a dessert bar, soup and ice cream included, total price around $10.00. The foods is cooked and brought out in small batches by the nice Polish kitchen ladies. Everything tastes like Grandma made it if Grandma was Polish. Both have free parking behind the restaurant. For the one near Belmont, the 56 Milwaukee bus goes right to the door. Red Apple has won many prizes for being a terrific deal. BTW they have a bar but of course that's extra.....You can google their website for exact addresses, pictures etc.. Do not miss this place.
What about Club Lucky? It's good, Italian food, not brilliant, but dependable, in big portions that easily serve2-3 people, or more depending on how much you order. It's not as good for a couple as it is for a small (or large) group, because if you order an appie, an entree and a dessert, you get WAY too much food for two.
1824 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Kang Nam Korean Barbeque. $20-$25 bucks a head for Korean "seafood" pancakes, endless kimchis (more squid I say!) and serving of kalbi. MMMMM. I'm usually so stuffed, I have to be helped out of the restaurant.
Chicago is full tasty ethnic restaurants that offer great food for reasonable prices. Here are a few, plus a couple of bars;
Reza's Lunch Buffet: $11.95 with Champagne!! It is such a fantastic bargain!!! The quality and variety of the food is great!! I prefer Noon O Kabab for Persian, but you can't beat Reza's weekend lunch/brunch buffet's, seriously good!
Greek Islands $19.95 2min person dinner package is fantastic! It includes wine too!!
There are quite a few decent Bar & Grill weekend brunch packages for under $20.
O'Donnovans on Irving for $12.95, includes carving station, waffle & egg station, plus tons more. New York Strip steak dinner for $10 on Saturdays! Prime rib on Sundays for $10, Thurs Full Slab of Ribs for $10!
Mystic Celt on Southport serves a very good Bar and Grill Brunch for $12.95, carving station starts at noon.
I hear that Rockit's brunch is quite good too!
There are plenty of Latin options as well;
El Llano on Lincoln Avenue for Columbian style Churrasco Chicken or Steak with a couple of sides is a definite stick-to-your-ribs meal.
Brasa Roja on Montrose at Kedzie for Columbian Churrasco.
Borincuba on Irving and Benard for tasty Cuban eats! Cheap Cheap
90 miles from Cuba for very good Cuban eats at reasonable prices.