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Good Value Chicago Restaurants of the day

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We will be in Chicago for 3 days on Labour Day weekend. We are looking for good value, fun, interesting food spots. We like Italian, Mexican, American, Pubs with lively atmosphere. Also looking for good live music venues.

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  1. So not to sound like an @ss, but what do you mean by good value? Do you really mean cheap? I personally think (and I bet others would agree) that Alinea is a good value for what you get but it was the most expensive meal i've ever had.

    So maybe you're really looking for cheap but good? We also need to know what your range of "value" is since Chicago has wide ranges.

    Michelin has their Bib Gourmand list which is somewhere to start, but that is not totally reliable since Twin Anchors is on that list and you couldn't pay me double the menu prices to eat there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jbontario

      HAHA! Not sounding like an @ss! thanks for the reply and agree on your definition of value!
      What I want to know is what's good, cheap and creative. My "cheap" range is $80-$120 for 2 people: cocktails, mains and wine..doable? thks

      1. re: shark bait

        $60pp including tax and tip?

        The sales tax in Chicago will probably be much higher than you are used to paying. On top of the 9.5 percent state and local sales tax in Chicago, the city imposes a 0.25 percent restaurant tax and downtown restaurants must levy an additional 1 percent pier tax tax for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

        Assuming 20% tip, and 10.75% tax, your $60pp quickly becomes $45pp for cocktails and food and wine. A few drinks and your budget is basically gone... it depends how much you plan to drink.

    2. Hi, which area(s) will you be in mostly? Casual dining places to check out: Xoco for Mexican and Portillo's for Chicago style hot dogs and italian beef. Both good for lunch.

      Check out some of these places for dinner: Purple Pig (Mediterranean), Au Cheval (upscale "diner"), Sable (American), Lou malnati's (pizza), and Quartino (Italian).

      Also, The Green Mill is fantastic for live jazz, located in uptown. If you give your location, can guide further for live music. Kingston Mines, Blue Chicago, and The Underground Wonder Bar are good

      1. Buddy Guys Legends has a great cajun menu and live entertainment during lunch (12-2) and dinner (5:30ish?). There's no cover charge during these hours, so you'd be getting a delicious meal and a taste of the blues! By looking at the calendar, I'd recommend lunch on Saturday with Eric "Guitar" Davis. And make sure to save room for the Peanut Buddy Pie for dessert! Make sure to take a look around the club (upstairs too!) at the memorabilia... lots of blues history.

        http://www.buddyguy.com/Calendar/

        1. Check out La Sardine in the West Loop. I've always found it to be fair prices for some excellent french food. Order the Onion soup, it's the best in the city.

          http://lasardine.com/menu.htm