You don’t have to bust your budget to be blown away by the Windy City’s great food. Cheap eats for every palate are available in better-known restaurants and neighborhood haunts throughout the city. From fish tacos to sauerkraut-filled pierogies, hop off your flights to Chicago and right into one of these local favorites where you can nosh to your heart’s content, without breaking the bank!
Nini’s Deli is a local favorite for a reason. The West Town deli offers affordable Cuban cuisine with plenty of vegetarian options. Meat lovers and vegans alike can fill their tummies with satisfying empanadas, rice and beans, and other Cuban faves. We find there’s no better way to make your sweet tooth happy than to wash down a guava jelly-and-plantain-filled PB&J with a hibiscus lemonade.
Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen
Trendy hot-spots dominate in Lincoln Park, so meals can be pricey. Luckily, you don’t have to leave the neighborhood to find tasty but cheap eats. Filling lentil soup, classic Fattoush Salad, hearty kibbeh and spinach pies are just some of the Mediterranean dishes to be had for a song at Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen. Don’t forget to try the rich, cardamom-spiced Arabic coffee for a quick pick-me-up.
After you’ve landed from your flights to Chicago, you’ve probably worked up quite the appetite — and we suggest bringing that empty belly of yours to Pierogi Heaven. Chicago has a sizable Polish population, so potatoes and sausage aren’t exactly hard to find. Satisfying your carb cravings has never been more delicious or inexpensive than this bare-bones eatery that serves up its namesake Polish staple stuffed with your choice of meat, veggies, sauerkraut, cheese and, of course, perfectly mashed spuds. And at half a buck each, there’s no reason anyone should leave hungry.
BIG & little’s Restaurant
Head to BIG & little’s Restaurant on the Near North Side when you’re craving fantastic poke tacos. This diner takes fish tacos to a new level with sashimi-grade Ahi tuna or steamed blue crab. Despite these upmarket options — and the fact that the restaurant was featured on Guy Fieri’s Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives — catching a hearty dinner for under ten dollars is more than doable here.
Meals at Bite Cafe aren’t just delicious; you’ll get a side of great music if the timing is right. The Ukrainian Village restaurant is located next to the Empty Bottle, a laid-back bar that’s hosted countless bands from around the world and right here in Chi-Town since it opened in the early nineties. You can even save big on drinks since this is a BYOB establishment. We recommend coming here for brunch when you can indulge in breakfast poutine or cure what ails you with the Hangover Salad. Carnivores and veggie lovers alike will find something to love. Ask about specials, and treat yourself to late-night snacks for as little as three dollars.
Any other cheap eats in Chicago that you know about? Let us know in the comments!