Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
May 9, 2011 11:35 AM

Foodies on a Budget- these are places I've been- where else?

Hi! I'm making my third trip to chicago for the NRA show and will be in town May 20-25th. I have $71 to spend on dinner (incl drinks, tip, etc).

Would love to know of places I should try. I have been to and loved:
-Mercat a la Planxa
-Cafe de Architect
-Uncommon ground

What other places are a must try? I will probably check out Blackbird this round, girl and the goat was impossible to get a res at.

Staying at Mart Plaza


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think there are a ton of great options in Chicago for less than $70. Here are few that come to mind:

    Publican: beware you will probably be seated at a communal table and it can be a bit noisy, but the food and atmosphere are well worth it.

    Longman and Eagle: a bit of a trek from your hotel, but the food is outstanding. If its on the menu, I recommend the pork belly. I also recommend not going on Friday or Saturday night - they don't take reservations and the waits can be long.

    And, a bit (ok a lot) more casual is my personal favorite: BIg Star. It's in Bucktown (again, a bit of trek) but as another foodie on a budget, I am in love with this place. There's a big patio, excellent margaritas and delicious two dollar tacos.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lchifoodie

      Thanks for the reply! We have a res for Publican for Sunday night, so that should be fun. Communal tables no problem!

    2. Sprout would push your budget but is a great place- $60 prix fixe. Also- really like Naha and North Pond for contemporary American. For more casual and lively spots- what about Sunda (sushi/asian), Purple Pig (no reserv- small plates) or Sable (small plates)? See if any of those menus interest you.

      Purple Pig
      500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      3 Replies
      1. re: ms. mika

        Thanks! My coworker actually suggested Naha. The menus at Purple Pig and Sable look great. I have eaten at Seventh on Heaven before and food was pretty tasty. Also thinking of Graham Elliott, any thoughts there?

        500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

        Purple Pig
        500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

        1. re: karbare07

          We've made a couple of trips into visit a son finishing up school and have recently "found" a nice little bistro-y place called "Nana" on Halsted & 33rd. I'm no foodie but I do like good food, appreciate great service and attention to detail. Nana has provided that, and the price range at very little on their rotating menu over $26 makes it well within your budget allowances.

          1. re: karbare07

            I haven't been to Graham Elliott, so I will let someone else comment on that. Naha is great though- it's consistently delicious food.

            Purple Pig is a lot of fun, but since they don't take reservations, just know in advance that could mean a wait. Sable is good too, although I've had mixed results. Another new place I haven't tried yet that has gotten some positive reviews is GT Fish and Oyster.

            500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

            Purple Pig
            500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

        2. Sable is a great choice and my top recommendation. The contemporary American food from Chef Heather Terhune is fantastic, and many of the items are available in half portions so you can try a lot of things. Plus they have those amazing artisanal cocktails. Plus, the food prices are extremely moderate; you can stuff yourself for $30. And it's easy to make a reservation on or over the phone. It's the perfect pick!

          Our creative provincial Mexican restaurants are also great choices. They have fantastic food totally unlike what you can find in most other American cities, and they are quite reasonable in price. Consider Topolobampo for lunch. For dinner, I recommend Mexique in West Town.

          Other places I would recommend include one of our great Italian restaurants (Piccolo Sogno, Cibo Matto, the Florentine, Cafe Spiaggia), Latin Fusion (Nacional 27 or Carnivale), tapas at Mercat a la Planxa, and David Burke's Primehouse for steaks.

          All of these are places where you shouldn't have any trouble getting a reservation (either via or over the phone) so you won't have to deal with those looooong waits (often 2+ hours) at no-reservations places like Longman & Eagle or Purple Pig. If you want to try Purple Pig, the way to do it is at lunch; the waits are less, and they serve the same menu all day, so you're still getting the same experience you would at dinner, but without the wait.

          Graham Elliot, Naha, and Sprout may be good choices but there's no way you're going to come in under your $71 target; figure $100+ at any of them.