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Cheap Eats

A selection of hidden restaurant gems that won’t break the bank

By Uncategorized

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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.


2408 n. lincoln av.
(773) 477–7114

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 Room

807 w. webster av.
(773) 348–5155

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 Bakery

5014 n. broadway st.
(773) 561–4424

Deliciously big Vietnamese sandwiches. The menu has over 20 different variations on the traditional banh mi, ranging from $4-$7 a sandwich.

Belly Shack

1912 n. western av.
(773) 252–1414

Korean/Puerto Rican fusion sandwiches, soups, and salads by renowned South Korean chef Bill Kim. Around $9 per meal.

Billy Goat Tavern

430 n. michigan av.
(hubbard st. & illinois st.)
(312) 222–1525

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.


26 e. congress pkwy.
(312) 922–2233

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.


1025 w. lawrence av.
(773) 561–0200

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 Norte

5600 n. ridge av.
(773) 728–0182

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 Grill

903 n. halsted (goose island)
(773) 477–7114

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 Cafe

21 n. wabash av.
(312) 443–9534

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 Restaurant

4636 n. kedzie av.
(773) 583–0776

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 Kitchen

225 n. wabash av.
(312) 236-9300

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.
(773) 276–8050

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 Cafe

5449 n. clark st.
(773) 334–6214

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 Lebanon

1509 w. foster av.
(773) 334–1600

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 Market

1515 w. devon av.
(773) 274–7788

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 Belly

3053 n. california av.
(773) 583–0500

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 this

These establishments will hang your work on the walls
(if they think it’ll stimulate your appetite)

Argo Tea

various locations

Buona Terra

2535 n. california av.
(773) 289–3800

Cafe Ballou

939 n. western av.
(773) 342–2909

Jumping Bean

1439 w. 18th st.
(312) 455–0019

Corner Bakery

224 s. michigan av.
(312) 236–2400

Efebina´s Cafe

1640 s. blue island av.
(312) 243–9790

Flower Flat

620 w. addison st.
(773) 697–3682

Hot Doug’s

3324 n. california
(773) 279–9550


various locations

Native Foods

1484 n. milwaukee av.
(773) 489–8480

Noble Tree

2444 n. clark
(773) 248–1500

Palmer House

17 e. monroe
(312) 917–1707

Pick me up

3408 n. clark st.
(773) 248–6613

Pizza Rustica

3908 n. sheridan rd.
(773) 404–8955


954 N. California Av.
(773) 292–1616


2122 N. Halsted
(773) 935–2500

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