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Jun 17, 2013 01:12 PM

Any Restaurants Cash Only or That Do Not Accept AMEX??


Does anybody know of any restaurants in Chicago or West Chicago area (Oak Brook, Naperville, etc.) that only take cash OR take credit cards except AMEX??

Posted a similar question on Tripadvisor and the repliers tried lecturing me on how to use a credit card and educating me that all restaurants take cash--gee, what a revelation.

As an example, Peter Luger in Brooklyn only takes cash or one of their own company issued credit cards--but no other credit cards of any motive for wanting to know this information is so that I do not get caught shorthanded at a restaurant and have to wash dishes to pay for my meal.

Any restaurants like a Peter Luger in Chicago that only take cash or credit cards (company owned or VISA) but NOT AMEX???....hoping this is a simple question.

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Well I won't lecture you, but google sends me to links that seem to indicate there are at least 6,000 restaurants in Chicago and that likely doesn't include the collar-counties. So your question is quite broad and not answerable.

    Anecdotally, I have not been to any fine dining establishment in the city that doesn't take Amex. I have been to many smaller store-fronts that don't accept Amex but will accept Visa and there are even a few that are cash only--but are you really not going to have $100 in your pocket at all times? My favorite baker and sandwich maker, D'Amato's, only takes cash, but you would expect that. If you're nervous, call when you make a reservation, but I doubt anyone has made a list to give you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbontario

      Amex, for all its "small-business" oriented commercials levies a greater tax on card use than the others, but it still puzzles me why anyone would care if a restaurant accepted Amex.

    2. Heaven on Seven, Big Star, Hot Dougs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lbs

        Thanks for answering the question.

      2. Why would a restaurant's acceptance of AMEX in any way impact your ability to pay cash or use another card?

        1. Peter Luger in Brooklyn is a special case, because it's a steakhouse, and your bill at the end will be at least $100+ for 2 (unless you got the burger at lunch). The steak for two alone is almost $100 these days. And that's before tax, tip, appetizers, dessert, and any wine/drinks. So it does catch people off guard.

          Are there any specific restaurants on your "to do" list that you are curious about? If you post where you're interested in going, people can perhaps help more easily.

          Do you typically travel with no cash and only your AMEX? Is this a business AMEX card? Or are you super invested in getting AMEX rewards points?

          Jam and Hot Doug's stick out to me as cash-only joints. There are quite a few I think when you factor in all the ethnic and takeout places in Chicago.

          This is also a thing that Yelp is good for, as reviewers tend to mention when a place is cash only.

          (BTW, Peter Luger accepts cash, as well as debit cards, personal checks with ID, and the aforementioned Peter Luger Credit card.)

          8 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            I did not ask if there are any restaurants in Chicago (broad based); rather, I asked for any cash only restaurants--which I suspect would be a few. That is what I was trying to find out.

            Also, not all restaurants accept AMEX given the higher fees associated with this card rather than Mastercard and Visa. I travel a bit and it is not THAT uncommon for me to run into a business that does not accept AMEX--has happened to me in the past.

            I'm simply trying to find out if anyone knows of such establishments--not asking you to do a homework assignment for me....besides Peter Luger, I can tell you Caffe Sport in SF is another cash only place....if you need to know my motive for asking, just assume I prefer supporting cash only businesses.

            So far, I have been given 3 places...if you know of any others please feel free to provide them without undertaking a massive project or being suspicious of my motives.


            1. re: El Chevere

              Whoa, you are reading way too much into this--we're not suspicious of your motives, but curious as to what you're trying to accomplish. Nothing accusatory. Your question for "does anybody know any cash only restaurants" is actually pretty broad when you look at how long the list ends up being.

              A quick search for "cash only" in their directory reveals 78 results:

              Urbanspoon has 121 "cash only" restaurants listed:

              Seems like the list is quite long as I imagine these two links are not all encompassing... that's why I asked if you could post a to do list/itinerary and have people help out about specific restaurants.

              Perhaps a better question would be "what popular sit-down dinner restaurants in The Loop/Downtown/etc don't take credit cards?" or "I'm thinking about going to these 8 restaurants, are any of them cash only?" or "what restaurants that serve X cuisine do/don't take credit cards?" or "how common are cash-only restaurants in Chicago in the X price range?"

              1. re: kathryn

                Thank a person not from Chicago, I was unaware of

                1. re: kathryn

                  In addition to ones that have already been mentioned here, there are some well-known restaurants in the links that Kathryn provided for places that are "cash only", including Billy Goat, Burt's Place, Chilam Balam, Gene & Jude's, Half Shell, Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, Johnnie's Beef, Nuevo Leon, Tweet Let's Eat, and Wiener and Still Champion.

                  Note that roughly half of the places I'm listing are independent fast-food type places. Not that many years ago, it was rare for fast-food places to accept credit cards, but then all the big chains started doing it, and that was that. I guess some of the independents have bucked that trend.

              2. re: kathryn

                FYI Jam does take credit cards; at least for the past several months.

                1. re: Gonzo70

                  Good to know, when I went it was cash only.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Yes, I know they were cash only at their former location, and they had an ATM in the restaurant.

                2. re: kathryn

                  Rodin, Telegraph's pizza/sister place in Logan Square only takes cash.

                3. I know of two restaurants in the Chicago area that accept MC/Visa but not AmEx. One is Jerry's in Winnetka, and that's been true for a long time (I ate there last month so I know it's still the case). The other is Batter & Berries, although they were pretty new when I ate there and I don't know if that's still true there.

                  Another restaurant I know that accepts MC/Visa but not AmEx is not in the Chicago area, but if you're ever traveling to western Michigan, it's one of the best: Everyday People Café, in Douglas, Michigan (next to Saugatuck).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Thanks everyone for the help...BTW, Tripadvisor 'closed' a similar thread I started...I guess they thought I was some type of terrorist serving as a front man for Al Qaeda.

                    1. re: El Chevere

                      I am still hopeless confused as to how acceptance/non-acceptance of AMEX makes the least bit of difference in this request. Given that your initial motive is not to get caught shorthanded at a restaurant it seems that you're really looking for something else.

                      As far as restaurants that accept cards but NOT AMEX, those are rare and tend to be really small hole-in-the wall types of places.

                      I travel a LOT, both domestically and internationally (have had years were I've spent 100+ nights on the road consistently). My company card is an AMEX and I can hardly recall an instance where it was not usable (I also have VISA, MC and Diner's Club and only the DC has been hard to use in many places domestically).

                      1. re: ferret

                        Ferrett, there are parallel discussions originated by the same poster on the TripAdvisor Chicago and San Diego forums. The consensus seems to be that the OP travels for business and is required to use a corporate AmEx, when it will be accepted, which results in his (her?) restaurant bills being sent directly to the employer for reimbursement, but that the employer will not reimburse alcohol, only food. So, the consensus seems to be that the OP is trying to identify restaurants where he can dine where he cannot use AmEx, so as to defeat this feature of his employer's meal reimbursement policy. No idea if it's true but makes more sense than anything else that I've read.

                        1. re: masha

                          Ah, kids these days ... Back when I was first starting out as a business traveler (30 years ago), in the era of "unlimited" expense accounts, some of my coworkers would order a six-pack "to go" from whatever restaurant we were dining at. The server would always point out he/she had to charge the per-bottle menu price and that it was far cheaper to go to a liquor store but they'd just shrug him/her off. I guess the OP is paying the price for the last generation's abuse of the system (in that he's trying to find his own loophole).