Chicago's Best Cheap Eats

Just because you're not wearing a suit doesn't mean you don't want a good meal. It just means you're after a casual, low-key and (most importantly) inexpensive one. Fortunately, Chicago is full of neighborhood joints that leave plenty of change to spare but definitely don't skimp on flavor. Check out our list of favorite cheap eats in Chicago. (Photo: Crocodile)

Updated: July 27, 2011

Best Cheap Eats in Chicago

Belly Shack

1912 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

The little (and less expensive) sister to Urban Belly serves up hefty portions of noodles and pot stickers for cheap. Get your paws on a fresh, mint-studded Asian meatball sandwich stuffed with somen noodles, Korean chili paste and mint for $9--and did we mention this place is BYOB? Bonus.

Johnnie's Beef

7500 W North Ave, Elmwood Park, IL 60707

Sure, the owner is gruff, but no one seems to mind as evidenced by the always long line at this pint-size suburban stand. The reason? Amazing Italian beef sandwiches, served pipping hot with all the fixings--sweet peppers, toasted bun and gravy--for around $5. Order yourself a combo and get even more (like a side of chips or Italian ice) for a steal.


2940 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657

The Korean fried chicken craze continues at Crisp, where gluttons can't help but lust after Korean barbecue sauce and peppery wings that are served alongside egg-topped bibimbap and bulgogi burritos. Add fries and a drink to your meal for just $2.50 more.

Sultan's Market

2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Meat pies, zaatar bread and lemony hummus at this vegan-friendly Middle Eastern market are in high demand. Score a baked egg and cheese pie, stuffed with egg, mozzarella and provolone cheeses on fresh dough, for a mere $2.

Hot Doug's

3324 North California, Chicago, IL 60618

This ode to encased meat offers up gourmet sausages named after stars as well as weekly game specials (think cognac and hazelnut-accented pheasant sausage with black currant Dijonnaise, port wine chicken pate and truffle-balsamic cream). On Fridays and Saturdays, the duck fat fries have a following of their own.


1540 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

This hip Wicker Park bar is known for cocktail specials, but it also serves a mean pizza for mere dollars. Order up a $3 pie and a $2 Caesar salad for a full meal, or better yet, save your appetite and go there later for a cocktail--this spot is known for serving free late-night pizza to bar-goers.

Salt & Pepper Diner

3537 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60657

Head to this Lincoln Avenue diner when hunger strikes. Order up a huge plate of Belgian waffles dripping in butter and maple syrup or a plate of biscuits and gravy, each cost around $3.