Looking for good cheap eats in chicago
Visiting Chicago with a friend and we're looking for some good local places on a budget. Looking for something in the 10-15 person range. Not looking for anything fancy. Just good food that is not a franchise. Something unique to Chicago is a bonus.
You probably wanna start looking into:
Italian beef sandwiches
Stuffed, deep dish AND Chicago style cracker thin crust pizza
Taquerias, and some of the hidden Mexican gems
And depending on where you are from, the different ethnic options, like Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, middle eastern, to name a few. Besides the price range you've mentioned, and the "not fancy" description,what else are you looking for?
well, we are both foodies who are just looking for great food on a budget. We are young backpackers (hence the budget) who met in the philippines. I'm American and my friend has come from London to have an American thanksgiving with me. On our visit to Chicago we are just having trouble finding great local options. We are used to eating delicious street food in Thailand, India etc. I'm trying to find things for her that are distinctly American. We have had a couple different baked pizzas and I think today we will try Heaven on Seven for some southern food.
For specific to Chicago:
Ask around wherever you are for the best Italian Beef sandwich in the neighborhood. If you go, get a beef or a combo (beef with italian sausage) with hot giardiniera, and a hot dog with everything.
Aquarium Smoker Bar B Q,
Again, not sure where you are at, but Chicago has it's own style of BBQ. I'd suggest Honey 1 bbq for a tip-link combo with sauce on the side.
For real distinctly American (Texas-y) BBQ, I'd suggest trying Smoque, or Barn & Co.
For just great in general, but not American, don't overlook the Mexican gems here, if that interests you.
hi, since you did not get many answers i will try to give you som ideas.. but you are not giving much info as far as location/means of transportation.
i love holy frijoles on touhy avenue (close to rogers park near the mall, so you will need a car and it is probably not worth the drive if you are staying downtown.
You can always try the obvious deep dish pizza lou malnati's, that is unique to Chicago ;)
Try research the best hot dog places in chi town.
We used to like XOCO but i heard it is not as good as it used to be.
Revolution Brewery has awesome food, burgers, mussels, beer etc..
While you are it, maybe give a try to a liquid diet (aka beer) at Goose Island, well established in chicago (though I am sure there any many many more options for beer). I don't really like their food so much.
Did you check the check please website from the local tv station? They often reviewed local independant restaurants..
Fyi, as an expat (but now officially american too), for me the food I miss the most when i am not in Chicago is not "distinctively american".
Thai, japanese, mexican etc.. I kind of feel that what makes the food culture in Chicago and most of the Us is also the diversity and mix. Of course, coming from London i can understand it would not be that exciting especially with your budget :)
i guess you always have burgers/meat/etc..
Can you tell us where you are staying and his far you are willing to travel? Generally speaking, there are fewer cheap options downtown. The further from the downtown area you go, the higher the likelihood that you will find something. As this is wintertime, there aren't as many food trucks out vs say the summertime.
Downtown: you can try the French Market. They have several stalls where you can pick the type of food you would like to try.
Lincoln Park: Frank n Dawgs for hotdogs, The Peasantry for "street food", Aloha Eats for Hawaiian
Lakeview: 5411 Empanadas for Argentinian empanadas(this used to be a food truck but they were successful enough to have their own restaurant) and Kumas Too for burgers
Old Town: Big & Little's for American food
Logan Square: Jam for brunch. Even though this is a brunch place, I personally preferred their lunch options. Although you may be sick and tired of pizza, Reno offers sandwiches during the day, and on Tuesdays, 20 dollars for 2 pizzas. This is a cash only place.
While not necessarily a lunch or dinner spot, you can also try Weber's Bakery. It's close to Midway. Their pastries are addictive. Thankfully, I live far far away from them.
To jkramb: Get out of town. Downtown, that is. You can eat like a king for $10 but first you'll have to get out to the neighborhoods. (CTA goes everywhere). Polish Buffet: All you can eat for around $10-12 depending on hour and day. Try Red Apple, 3121 Milwaukee. I don't think it's as good as it used to be but it's OK and a lot of food for the $.
Thai and Vietnamese: Take the Red Line to Argyle and walk along Argyle then south on Broadway. You will see many possibilities. I like Thai Pastry, 4925 Broadway.
Persian: Reza's, 5255 N Clark, has gotten pricier if you order from the menu but they have an ad-lib lunch buffet for around $10.
Mexican: take the 60 bus from the shelter alongside Sears on the northwest corner of State & Madison to Little Village and eat at El Milagro, 3050 W 26th. El Milagro is a small but very active and successful tortilla factory that runs a little. restaurant adjacent. You can feast for $10 and the food is wonderful. They also have a branch in Pilsen.
Indian: Devon Avenue, no contest. Take Red Line to Loyola then do ten minutes on Devon 155 bus. Get off at Western and you will be in Mumbai or Lahore. Dozens of places offer ad lib buffet lunch for under $10.
If you are stuck downtown and it's a weekday at lunchtime, one option is the cafeteria at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (one block east of Michigan and right behind the Apple store, it takes up entire block defined by St Clair, Fairbanks, Huron, & Erie). Go to 2nd floor and walk past various commercial eating places.All the way at the end is the main cafeteria, Cafe' 251, a giant food court with chef stations.Not the bargain it once was but still 'way cheaper than restaurants in this Magnificent Mile neighborhood.
In expensive Gold Coast try Original Pancake House, 22 E Bellevue, where skillets, omelets etc run < $10. Lunch only.
In Loop, lunch only, Oasis Cafe, 21 N Wabash at rear of jewelry mall. Very good Middle Eastern with daily specials $7.49.
If you're a fan of street food, in my mind there are three main attractions to check out in Chicago, which happen to be conveniently close to each other.
Al's Italian Beef on Taylor serves a tender, spicy rendition of this Chicago sandwich dripping with gravy, and fresh-cut double-fried fries. Al's has been around forever and (some say) is the original inventor of the Italian Beef sandwich. It's not my favorite beef in the city but it has a solid spot in my top five.
A short ways east of Al's, right off the expressway, is what I fondly think of as the greasiest restaurant on the planet: Jim's Original Polish sausage stand. You can smell it before you see it, and when you do see it the first thing that you'll noticed is the onion pile. This is the Mount Vesuvius of shredded onions, the massive pile sputtering and steaming all day on the greasy griddle before an overflowing portion gets slopped onto your sandwich with spicy deli mustard. There's no more satisfying food for the price, and it's a great skyline view to boot. Make sure you go late at night while drunk, or extremely early in the morning while hungover, for the full Jim's experience.
Make sure you stay in Chicago over a Sunday morning to experience Maxwell Street Market, which is just across the expressway from Jim's at Roosevelt and Des Plaines. Maxwell Street is basically a football field-length Mexican garage sale with all kinds of merchandise, but the main attraction is the food. Make note of the taco stands which have hand-made tortillas from scratch, then choose the one with the longest line. Order whatever filling you like and you won't be disappointed.