chicago essential cheap eats
For my city guides, I try to have a mix of everything - new restaurants, iconic venues, and tourist spots worth a visit. These will range from casual cafes for breakfast to suit jacket fine dining. As with all guides, it is not exhaustive but hopefully full of wonderful recommendations that will help you make the most of your visit! Here's what I love on the cheap in Chicago:
Al's Italian Beef
Chicago-based chain known for overstuffed Italian beef sandwiches & hot dogs
234 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60604
ann sather cafe
Casual, colorful BYOB mainstay for hearty Swedish-American meals & housemade cinnamon buns.
3415 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60657
Big & littles
Beyond burgers & fried fish, this quick-serve spot does po' boys, tacos & gourmet fries.
860 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60610
Mexican street food, plus margaritas & other drinks fuel a lively scene at this funky hangout.
1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Casual, brick-walled pizza pub where deep-dish pies with caramelized crusts are served until late.
2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Seasonal menu of gourmet tacos & Mexican appetizers doled out in a shabby-chic, counter-serve space.
1360 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Counter-serve joint for creative burgers with Korean & other global ingredients
6604 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626
The Wiener Circle
Famously surly staffers serve char dogs & more at this tiny institution that's open late.
2622 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Stylish spot supplying gourmet donuts
26 E Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL 60605
Portillo's Hot Dogs
Chicago-born chain for hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches & more
100 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60610
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Quick-serve outfit furnishes fried poultry, craft beer & cocktails in rustic digs with a patio.
3361 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Counter serving chef Rick Bayless's take on Mexican street food, plus tap beers.
449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
A roster of artisanal donuts & coffee drinks is available at this quaint, counter-serve spot.
68 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
Cash-only counter-serve Middle Eastern spot with falafel, gyros & more
2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Japanese ramen soup offered with toppings & sides in a simple wood-lined space with counter seats.
1571 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
nyc bagel deli
Casual spot for New York-style delicatessen sandwiches & pizzas by the slice or the pie.
515 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60654
Lao Sze Chuan
Chinatown eatery serving Szechuan specialties alongside traditional Chinese dishes.
2172 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616