Drive      Fly      Stay      Login    Signup



Best, most unique Chicago food--on a budget?

Hey all!

Hubs and I are taking a trip to Chicago in April, and I was wondering if anyone could recommend unique, local spots that are delicious but won't break the bank?

Extra points for throwing in tips about which places have the best brews, too! :)

6 Answers

top answer by
Emily from Chicago

Hi Lindsey! 

Chicago has a world-class food scene but with it can come world-class prices. In order to eat really well for a more moderate price, venture outside of the downtown area and into some of Chicago's awesome neighborhoods!

Chicago has a great Chinatown just south of the city and easily accessible by the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line Station My two favorite spots down there are Lao Sze Chuan and MingHin Cuisine for dim sum. Both are very reasonably priced.

Also south, and a bit west, of downtown is Lagunitas Taproom While Lagunitas isn't originally from Chicago, it's founder is and he recently expanded his operation to the area. It's great place to go a try a variety of different Lagunitas brews.

Northwest of downtown are the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, with tons of great food options! You can get to both on the CTA Blue Line. For Wicker Park get off at CTA - Division stop and walk to Bangers & Lace for a great beer selection and an array of interesting sausages/dogs. Also in the neighborhood is the The Winchester, doing some interesting things with contemporary American food, tucked away on a residential street. and is a great place for brunch, lunch or dinner.

Jump off of at the Damen Blue Line Station for Bucktown and check out Big Star. Killer margaritas, great tacos, crazy addictive chips and guac, all served on a fun patio. Note: this place is packed year-round, especially if the weather is nice. If the wait is too long, check out Dove's Luncheonette, by the same owners and located right next door. It's totally different cuisine, an updated take on diner food, but still good. If you still have tacos on the brain and Big Star is too long of a wait, check-out Antique Taco around the corner. It's a bit lower key vibe but also great margaritas and tacos. A few blocks north on Damen is Mindy's Hot Chocolate, another great place for brunch or dinner!

A few other spots in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhoods that don't fall into the budget category but are worth mentioning are Carriage HouseRuxbin Kitchen (which is BYO!), Mott Stand Trenchermen. None are bank breakers and all worth the extra money!

Further northwest in the Logan Square and Avondale neighborhoods are the Revolution Brewing Pub and Revolution Brewing Brewery, respectively. The pub has food and a great selection of brews but a little further north (in a very non-descript building), the brewery has a great tasting room where you can try varieties you can't get elsewhere and they offer a free tour that comes with a beer! The pub can be reached on CTA - California and the brewery CTA Blue Line - Belmont

Lastly, due north of the city there is a lot of great Vietnamese food off the Lawrence Red Line Station. My personal favorite is Tank Noodle.

I could go on and on but hope this is a good start. All of these neighborhoods are also worth spending some time exploring, in addition to enjoying the great food they have to offer. Have a great time!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cermak-Chinatown Red Line Station (attraction)
  2. Lao Sze Chuan (restaurant)
  3. MingHin Cuisine (restaurant)
  4. Lagunitas Taproom (attraction)
  5. CTA - Division (attraction)
  6. Bangers & Lace (attraction)
  7. The Winchester (restaurant)
  8. Damen Blue Line Station (attraction)
  9. Big Star (restaurant)
  10. Dove's Luncheonette (restaurant)
  11. Antique Taco (attraction)
  12. Mindy's Hot Chocolate (restaurant)
  13. Carriage House (restaurant)
  14. Ruxbin Kitchen (restaurant)
  15. Mott St (restaurant)
  16. Trenchermen (restaurant)
  17. Revolution Brewing (restaurant)
  18. Revolution Brewing Brewery (restaurant)
  19. CTA - California (attraction)
  20. CTA Blue Line - Belmont (attraction)
  21. Lawrence Red Line Station (attraction)
  22. Tank Noodle (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Rob from Chicago

XOCO for Mexican by master chef Rick Bayless 

For beers try Goose Island, Hopleaf and maybe take a tour of the Revolution Brewing Brewery (

My two favorite spots for deep dish pizza is Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on Rush St and Pequod's Pizza.

Here's another link for you that might help. It lists all the Chicago classics that only locals "in the know" know about. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. XOCO (restaurant)
  2. Goose Island (restaurant)
  3. Hopleaf (restaurant)
  4. Revolution Brewing Brewery (restaurant)
  5. Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (restaurant)
  6. Pequod's Pizza (restaurant)
4 thankscomments (4)

answered by
Selina from Chicago, Illinois

Well you have the infamous Giordano's that has various locations downtown and next up you have Lou Malnati's Pizzeria that has a few locations as well...they are both pizzeria's but there is always extra items on the menu to choose from. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Giordano's (restaurant)
  2. Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Jillian from Los Angeles

What a fun trip! Definitely smart to eat your way through this city...

For tacos, you have to check out Big Star. Everything is great here - I'd recommend the pastor and pescado tacos and the queso fundido! Oh and love the Big Star marg made with mezcal. There's usually a wait (they don't take reservations), but they do have a order and sit option as well which is quick (seating for this is outside).

For pizza, my unique to Chicago favorite spot is Pequod's Pizza. Two words: caramelized crust. That's all you really need to know.

For bbq, Lillie's Q. It's just good. Their sauces are the best and they have a nice beer selection! Not to mention fried pickles...

For an insane cheeseburger, Au Cheval. It's $11 for the cheeseburger so maybe a little splurge, but it's worth it. And get an egg on top! I'm still trying to find a better burger and I can't. The honey fried chicken is also perfection, fyi. 

For beers, I'd recommend DryHop Brewers for a great craft beer selection of IPAs, Pale Ales, and Belgium beers they brew in house. I'd go for a boozy brunch! The food is really fresh so you can't go wrong.

Enjoy and let me know if you have any other questions!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Big Star (restaurant)
  2. Pequod's Pizza (restaurant)
  3. Lillie's Q (restaurant)
  4. Au Cheval (restaurant)
  5. DryHop Brewers (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Sharon from Riverwoods

Portillo's for Italianbeef and hot dogs and chocolate cake.

Al's BeeforAl's Beef for Italian beef

Gino's East for Pizza (my fav for over 40 years)

Miller's Pub a long time Chicago favorite for steaks and clubby atmosphere. Decent prices in the loop.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Portillo's (restaurant)
  2. Al's Beef (restaurant)
  3. Al's Beef (restaurant)
  4. Gino's East (restaurant)
  5. Miller's Pub (restaurant)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Jaime from Chicago

Try out Pilsen! Dusek's (where Jay and Bey went after their On the Run show) or Nightwood.  Both have excellent brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, but Dusek's has a stronger beer selection.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dusek's (attraction)
  2. Nightwood (restaurant)
1 thankscomments (1)

© 2020   ·   View: Full | Mobile
Follow us:      
Questions   ·   Destinations   ·   Drive   ·   Fly   ·   Airports   ·   Stay   ·   Search

Login   ·   FAQ   ·   About   ·   Feedback   ·   Privacy   ·   Terms