Being a student, good is never good enough if it is not affordable.
This city certainly has something for everyone in terms of food, but you definitely have to know where to go.
This list will guide your way when searching for hidden, cheap and cheerful meals in Chi City.
Allende2408 n. lincoln av.
Open until 3 a.m. $4 tortas, $5 burritos, and best of all, mind-blowing enchilada entrees for $8. Their homemade salsa is seriously famous. This is a perfect destination for a drunk late night feast. (closed on sundays)
Athenian Room807 w. webster av.
Inexpensive Greek food. Tina Fey has publicly praised this restaurant for their amazing food (check it out on YouTube). They are famous for their Greek fries and salad, as well as their chicken kebabs and gyros.
Ba Le Bakery5014 n. broadway st.
Deliciously big Vietnamese sandwiches. The menu has over 20 different variations on the traditional banh mi, ranging from $4-$7 a sandwich.
Belly Shack1912 n. western av.
Korean/Puerto Rican fusion sandwiches, soups, and salads by renowned South Korean chef Bill Kim. Around $9 per meal.
Billy Goat Tavern430 n. michigan av.
(hubbard st. & illinois st.)
A little hard to find but definitely worth it if you appreciate a good, old-fashioned cheeseburger. The place has considerable historic value — reading some of the old, framed newspapers on its walls you’ll learn about the curse placed on the Cubs. The one downfall: no fries.
Cafecito26 e. congress pkwy.
Awesome Cuban sandwiches, coffee and pastries. A great option when stuck in the Loop. On their website you can print a coupon for a free House Coffee with your next sandwich purchase.
Dib1025 w. lawrence av.
In this place you can find great Thai food and sushi. It is BYOB and there is a liquor store across the street. About $7-$8 per (gigantic) entrée. Two of their most famous dishes are the Tom Yum Soup and the Basil Chicken.
El Norte5600 n. ridge av.
This is a 24-hour Mexican joint, which is very good to know. They serve pozole, which is not very easy to find in Chicago. Their red and green salsas are always freshly made and their servings are enormous.
Flaming Wok and Grill903 n. halsted (goose island)
A total dive, with an entirely inaccurate name. Mostly Indian/Pakistani food. Run by devout Muslims (which means no booze), the place empties during prayer times. The atmosphere is loud (due to cab drivers watching Pakistani news turned way up), and it isn’t the best looking, but it’s worth it. Order the day’s special and you won’t be disappointed. Very accommodating with vegetarian and vegan diets, not so great with allergies and assholes.
Oasis Cafe21 n. wabash av.
Mediterranean food in the back of a jewelry store, which is just enough to make you curious. The word on the street is that they have great falafel sandwiches and cheap lunch specials.
(closed on sundays)
Salam Restaurant4636 n. kedzie av.
Huge, Middle Eastern Menu. The Combination Entrée with four meats, hummus, pita, and salad for $12 is easily enough to feed 2-3. If you want dessert, there is a really well stocked Middle Eastern bakery next door.
South Water Kitchen225 n. wabash av.
Great place for brunch and good drinks. Check out their daily specials, especially Thursdays when they feature a $5 burger and $3 pint drafts. Although the atmosphere is a bit more “corporate downtown happy hour” than normally tolerable, their staff is always friendly and the burgers are great. It is perfect for those 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. SAIC class breaks.
Stanley’s F. & V.1558 n. elston av.
A good option if you are looking for affordable, organic produce, and fresh bread from a local bakery. A word to the wise: the reason Stanley’s prices are so low is that their produce is rejected by more uppity stores like the Green Grocer, whose patrons are unimpressed with slightly blemished fruits and vegetables. Think of it as finding a thrift store stocked to the ceiling with apples, oranges and bananas.
Sunshine Cafe5449 n. clark st.
Simple, fresh Japanese food. Try the Saba Shioyaki (salt-broiled mackerel) for an authentic, traditional home-cooked meal, or slurp up Vegetable Beef Udon for savory warmth on a cold day. About $8-$12 per entree.
Taste of Lebanon1509 w. foster av.
Cheap, fresh and healthy Middle Eastern fast food. They have great wraps and falafel and an amazing lentil soup and cucumber salad. Wraps $3-$4; lentil soup $2.50. Bring cash, they don’t take credit cards. (closed on sundays)
La Unica Market1515 w. devon av.
Delicious and comforting Cuban food, coffee and tostones tucked inside a little bodega. Around $6-$7 per entree. They also make guanabana shakes and sell roast pork by the pound on the weekends, if you feel like trying your own recipe.
Urban Belly3053 n. california av.
Also a Bill Kim restaurant. Unlike Belly Shack, Urban Belly is focused less on Latin fusion and more on the communal dining experience. Great soups, noodles, and fried rice. It is also BYOB.
Chew on thisThese establishments will hang your work on the walls
(if they think it’ll stimulate your appetite)
Argo Teavarious locations
Buona Terra2535 n. california av.
Cafe Ballou939 n. western av.
Jumping Bean1439 w. 18th st.
Corner Bakery224 s. michigan av.
Efebina´s Cafe1640 s. blue island av.
Flower Flat620 w. addison st.
Hot Doug’s3324 n. california
Native Foods1484 n. milwaukee av.
Noble Tree2444 n. clark
(773) 248–1500 nobletreecoffee.com
Palmer House17 e. monroe
Pick me up3408 n. clark st.
Pizza Rustica3908 n. sheridan rd.
Rootstock954 N. California Av.
Topics2122 N. Halsted