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  3. The Best Cheap Eats in Chicago
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The Best Cheap Eats in Chicago

The Windy City has a long history of culinary excellence, and not just for the deep-dish pizza. From molecular gastronomy to barbecue, there are countless options for memorable meals all over the city—and many of them are just as affordable as they are delicious. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to our Tastemaker List. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. You’ll find everything from neighborhood gems to rustic Italian spots, buzzy sushi bars to airy brasseries—all vetted by the types of tastemakers who know the best spots around the city. Impress your friends and family and score a table; we wish we could join you.

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The OpenTable Team
20 Restaurants
Bijgewerkt 01 oktober 2021
Restaurants:Quartino, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, SUSHI-SAN
Prijsklasse:$$ - $$$
Keukens:Italiaans, Tapas/hapjes, Japans
Buurten:River North (Chicago), Lincoln Park, Chicago
Een foto van restaurant Quartino

Quartino

$$$$
Italiaans
River North (Chicago)
4.6
9383 recensies
White subway tile, rustic tables and chairs, and a deli counter to display the house-made smoked meats welcome you to Quartino. This authentic Italian restaurant serves gourmet flavors on small plates, so you can enjoy several plates for the cost of a traditional entree. Build your own meat and cheese platter with the incredible selection of house-made and imported favorites. Fresh, handmade pasta is also on the menu. Order a few plates to share and enjoy the energetic and trendy atmosphere without digging into your savings.

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Een foto van restaurant Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

$$$$
Tapas/hapjes
Lincoln Park
4.8
7592 recensies
Traditional Spanish tapas make an entrance at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. This restaurant was one of the first to enter the Chicago scene with small plates on the menu. As the food offerings have evolved, the restaurant has added pintxos (single bite snacks) to the already extensive selection of tapas. With small plates and bite-sized snacks on the menu, you can enjoy cheap eats in Chicago at any time of day. Order several plates to make up a meal and enjoy a variety of flavors. Even the entree-sized portions of paella are affordable, for a trendy and delicious meal at family restaurant prices.

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Een foto van restaurant SUSHI-SAN

SUSHI-SAN

$$$$
Japans
Chicago
4.7
794 recensies
With techno beats setting up a lively and energetic atmosphere, Sushi San dining is an experience. The drinks get rave reviews; from the sake bombs to the incredible selection of Japanese whiskeys, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The all-day menu serves a variety of small plates like tako taco, a Sushi San specialty. Crispy and light tempura and grilled meat and fish are affordable options, where you decide on the size. Choose smaller portions for a more affordable final bill at one of the best cheap Chicago restaurants.

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Een foto van restaurant HUB 51 and Ben Pao

HUB 51 and Ben Pao

$$$$
Amerikaans
River North (Chicago)
4.6
5185 recensies
Industrial and modern decor elements combine in Hub 51, a contemporary American restaurant in River North. On the menu, flavors take a world tour with everything from an ahi tuna poke to a tuna and Thai basil sushi roll. Sandwiches and tacos with a gourmet touch are a big part of the menu, so you can enjoy a cheap place to eat without sacrificing on flavor. The casual atmosphere is decidedly unpretentious for a relaxed evening in a friendly and warm eatery.

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Een foto van restaurant Nonnina

Nonnina

$$$$
Italiaans
River North (Chicago)
4.7
2205 recensies
The phrase "just like Grandma used to make" takes on new meaning at upscale Italian eatery Nonnina. With a recipe that comes from family and a decor that is retro-chic, dining here is like eating with family. The menu is full of affordable selections and deliciously tender bites of fresh, house-made pasta that come topped with a variety of sauce options. From the pappardelle duck ragu to the maccheroni and meatballs, the food is a scrumptious nod to homestyle Italian raised to a gourmet level and offered at an affordable price. For some of the best cheap eats in Chicago, put in a takeout order and enjoy your Nonnina's meal at home.

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Een foto van restaurant Le Colonial - Chicago

Le Colonial - Chicago

$$$$
Vietnamees
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.8
6184 recensies
Upscale, vintage elegance from the 1920s is the theme at Le Colonial, a restaurant serving a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors. While it is difficult to find truly elegant restaurants that qualify as cheap eats, Le Colonial manages to take the title with a menu that includes both vegetarian and gluten-free options at affordable price points. From filet mignon to aromatic pho dishes, the menu is an interesting blend of traditional French cooking methods and Vietnamese flavors.

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Een foto van restaurant RPM Italian

RPM Italian

$$$$
Italiaans
Chicago
4.6
11035 recensies
The contemporary monochromatic decor in RPM Italian offers an upscale background to the star of the show — the food. A delightful menu full of Italian classics offers affordable gourmet meals that includes upgraded options like the lobster caprese or black truffle beef tartare. House-made pasta plates are an affordable main dish like the cavatelli pork and beef ragu or the short rib bolognese. For diners not on a budget, the steak and chops or fish menu offer some higher ticket culinary delights. With everything combined, you can enjoy a very affordable meal or splurge on a special occasion.

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Een foto van restaurant The Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

The Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

$$$$
Amerikaans
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.6
313 recensies
Dark leather seats, shining tile floors, and brass accents at the bar all bring to mind 1920s Paris at the Margeaux Brasserie. While a full meal at this classic French restaurant might not make the cheap eats list, the happy hour menu certainly does. A fun selection of food like the smoked trout rillette or duck wings a L'Orange make this miniature menu one to enjoy from 4-6 p.m. Try the Monday's at Margeaux menu for another option that makes the cheap eats list. This prix fixe menu includes three courses at a very affordable fixed price.

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Een foto van restaurant il Porcellino

il Porcellino

$$$$
Italiaans
River North (Chicago)
4.7
3059 recensies
Rustic Italian is the decor in il Porcellino, from the replica bronze pig statue by the door to the empty fiaschi bottles that line the ceiling. The menu offers some of the best cheap eats in Chicago with a price list that is well below the average for River North. If you're going as a group of four or more, you can select from the family-style dinner menu at a fixed price per head. You'll get a salad course, two appetizers, two pasta courses, and two mains, all for a lot less than you might expect. Save a little room for dessert. It comes out to the dining room on a wheeled cart so you can make a selection and enjoy.

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Een foto van restaurant Shaw's Crab House & Oyster Bar - Chicago

Shaw's Crab House & Oyster Bar - Chicago

$$$$
Zeevruchten
River North (Chicago)
4.8
12564 recensies
Shaw's Crab House is actually two restaurants in one. If you want upscale dining in an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, head to the main dining room. For an unpretentious and casual experience, hit the oyster bar. Both offer seasonal, fresh seafood from around the world, prepared with a straightforward respect for the ingredients. For cheap eats at Shaw's, go with a group and grab a platter. Designed to serve four or more people, these towering plates of shellfish includes everything from oysters Rockefeller to lobster tails.

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Een foto van restaurant Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

$$$$
Zeevruchten
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4.6
4698 recensies
The sea theme at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House is on display from the moment you enter. From sailing ships and hanging fish to water-inspired art, it all says one thing—get ready for some great fish. Prices are fairly standard for a good seafood restaurant, but what gives Hugo's a spot on the cheap eats list is the portion sizes. The comparable prices don't account for the oversized plates that come with every order. Visit during lunch and enjoy some of your favorite dinner items for a lot less.

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Een foto van restaurant Mon Ami Gabi

Mon Ami Gabi

$$$$
Frans
Lincoln Park
4.8
6266 recensies
Enjoy classic French cuisine served in a traditional bistro at Mon Ami Gabi. This warmly welcoming eatery serves rich, time-honored flavors at an affordable price. From the escargots de Bourgogne or crispy duck confit starters to the entrees of trout almondine or chicken grand-mere, there's something to please any palate. The steak frites come in five flavors, including the classic, bearnaise, and bordelaise. Get gourmet flavor on a budget when you reserve a table at Mon Ami Gabi.

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Een foto van restaurant Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Chicago

Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Chicago

$$$$
Pizzeria
Lincoln Park
4.6
1008 recensies
Stella Barra Pizzeria may be in Chicago, but don't expect deep dish pies here. This artisanal pizza house upgrades a basic dish into a gourmet experience. Starters include crispy calamari and pork meatballs. Seasonal specials change regularly, but always include something special like the house-made tagliatelle with chanterelle mushrooms. When you've worked your way through the openers, share a pizza with a fellow diner for a full meal that won't break the bank. Red, white, and ultra-thin crust pizza give you a wide selection to choose from, all with interesting and anything-but-classic toppings.

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Een foto van restaurant Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

$$$$
Steakhouse
River North (Chicago)
4.8
8482 recensies
Step into a new take on an American classic when you dine at Chicago Cut Steakhouse. A dry-aging room on site lets you enjoy some of the best steaks you'll ever eat. This steak house has all of the cuts you might expect along with a bone-in prime rib, and meats served even to "black & blue," a seared outside with raw center. To keep your visit economical, consider a brunch reservation. The prices are on the low end for a premier steak house, but that doesn't quite descend into cheap for the regular dinner menu.

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Een foto van restaurant La Luna

La Luna

$$$$
Mexicaans
Pilsen
4.7
512 recensies
Our perspective is coming soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the restaurant’s description: Located in Chicago’s vibrant and historically significant pilsen neighborhood, la luna stays true to the communities cultural, ever-evolving roots and offers a place for both locals and visitors alike to enjoy traditional Mexican recipes in a creative space that pays homage to the diverse, artistic vibe of the neighborhood. situated in a prime location on 18th and racine, la luna’s interior is reminiscent of the spirit of the community, featuring exposed brick, living walls of greenery and an open kitchen that invites guests to enjoy a front row seat to the culinary experience. a bifold garage door opens up to 18th street, merging the indoor and outdoor space and allowing patrons to take in the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood while enjoying their locally-inspired meal. the intimate, downstairs lounge features a mezcal bar, shuffleboard and antique board games; creating the perfect atmosphere to unwind and enjoy cocktails and conversation with family and friends.

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Een foto van restaurant North Pond

North Pond

$$$$
Amerikaans
Lincoln Park
4.9
3950 recensies
North Pond, a fine dining restaurant serving American cuisine, boasts a lovely Lincoln Park location. The arts & crafts-style dining room matches the fun and whimsical approach to food. This eatery pops up on this cheap places to eat list because of the very affordable seasonal tasting menu. When you choose the prixe fixe option, you get a generous selection of menu items at a very good price for gourmet food. With plates like a yuzu crab and fennel sweetbreads, you'll be in for a delectable dinner that includes five small courses.

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Een foto van restaurant RPM Steak

RPM Steak

$$$$
Steak
Chicago
4.7
5120 recensies
RPM Steak, located in one of Chicago's premier neighborhoods, River North, serves up classic steak house dishes. While the dinner menu is never called cheap, you can enjoy an affordable meal at this fine dining restaurant with a lunch table. The gourmet sandwiches include everything from a dry-aged steakburger to the smoked prime rib dip. Signature steaks are available in petite 6-ounce cuts for an inexpensive plate of premium beef.

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Een foto van restaurant Blackbird

Blackbird

$$$$
Modern Amerikaans
West Loop
4.5
4229 recensies
Approachable fine dining is the theme at James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Kahan's signature restaurant, Blackbird. Farm fresh ingredients and simple executions are the norm for the menu. Choose from a compact selection of appetizers and main dishes to build a mouthwatering meal that is affordable for fine dining. Seasonal tasting menus include 10 courses, while the lunch prix fixe is a very affordable three courses.

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Een foto van restaurant The Publican

The Publican

$$$$
Amerikaans
West Loop
4.5
5706 recensies
An homage to a traditional beer hall, the decor in The Publican features wooden furniture and interesting light fixtures. The 100-seater banquet table is the star of the room and offers a view of the (partially) open kitchen. A delightful array of meat and seafood anchor the menu, without hitting chokingly high prices. The cost is reasonable and the food delicious. Be sure to try one of the signature pork dishes like the pork belly or smoked pork shank.

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Een foto van restaurant Naoki

Naoki

$$$$
Japans
Chicago
4.7
559 recensies
Chef Naoki Nakashima opened his self-named restaurant to share Japanese flavors with a contemporary crowd. The casual decor inspires conversation, making Naoki's a sushi spot where you relax and stay a while. The menu includes a delicious selection of kozara, the Japanese take on small plates, with tuna tacos, truffle chawanmushi, or chicken gyoza as just a few options. A decadent selection of fresh, hand-rolled sushi follows. Order to go and add-in finger-lickin' pieces of fried chicken for a meal that definitely qualifies this as one of the best cheap Chicago restaurants.

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