Top 10 cheap restaurants in Chicago

Kaplan Students guide to cheap eats in Chicago

Chicago never fails to amaze us: whether it is for the scandalous musical named after it or its high quality budget restaurants. Yes, finding cheap eats in Chicago is not impossible, especially when you have Kaplan International Colleges students to help you find the best deals...follow the guide!

1. Nine Muses

In Greek mythology the Muses are associated with goddesses. So when a Greek restaurant is packed with Greek expats, you know the food is divine. Souvlakia with Feta fries or Roasted Florina Peppers for less than $8? Yes, the prices are divine too. Oh, and we forgot to say there was free wireless, too.

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2. Azucar!

This cosy and dimly lit restaurant will charm you, not only for its great atmosphere but for its high quality food at a low price! The patatas bravas (crispy potatoes with brava sauce topped with paprika aioli) and the chicken empanada were our favourite dishes, but we're planning to go back to “study” the menu more thoroughly...What about you?

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3. Ba Le

When France invaded Vietnam, baguettes crossed borders, and the banh mi sandwich was born. The Ba Le special with pate, ham, cheese, pork roll, mayonnaise, carrot, jalapeno, soy sauce and many other ingredients is wonderful. The bread is perfect - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The filling is generous, and sandwiches cost less than $4. Definitely a must-stop!

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4. Heaven on Seven

If you have never tried Cajun food, this is probably the best place in town to try it!  From the gumbo to the Etouffee or seafood, this restaurant knows what it is doing. The food is consistently good (which can be hard to find in a big city!) and from the moment you sit down, you feel like you are in New Orleans. Bliss.

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5. Pizzeria Uno

This is the place for Chicago-style pizza with a rich tomato topping. Here you can find amazing thin-crust and deep-dish pizza pies with fresh and high quality ingredients. Expect some waiting as the pizza may take up to 40mn to cook. But waiting for the best pizza in Chicago is worth it, trust us!

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6. Portillo's Hot Dogs

Many agree that Portillo's have the best beef in the city. The beef is tender and the poppy seed buns are delicious. If you're in Chicago, you must fit hot dogs in your food itinerary, and if Portillo's is an institution and cannot be missed according to locals and tourists, why bother going elsewhere?

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7. Bob San

Who doesn't love sushi? Or rather, who doesn't love affordable sushi? The fish is really fresh and succulent and the restaurant serves very creative dishes.  The spicy white tuna roll is unforgettable and on the veggie section, our favourite was the crunchy veggie with sweet potato tempura and spicy mayo. Digest with a Miso soup and relax.

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8. Bolat African Cuisine

If you want to try something different, venture inside this restaurant. The fried yams are delicious, crispy and served with a slightly spicy tomato sauce for dipping. The jerk chicken and mashed black eyed peas are worth trying as well. Spice up your night at this African restaurant!

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9. Borinquen

Local Puerto Ricans and Rican food lovers alike can be found in this cosy café. This Puerto Rican restaurant is a real gem, serving tasty dishes at incredibly cheap prices. For example, take the jibarito: the crispy plantains replace the bread and you get a steak, chicken or pork with garlic, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and cheese and a side of rice for only $7. A delight!

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10. Café Orchid

Café Orchid offers the best Turkish food in the Chicago area. And judging by the number of Middle Easterners going to this place, the restaurant has a solid fan base. The menu is big and if you don't know what to choose, you can always go for the Appetizer sampler with hummus, eggplant salad, lentil fingers, tabuli, and spinach sautee. In the mains, we loved the fried mussels ($8), feta wrap ($5), kibbe ($6). And you?

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Got any other helpful tips for our students in Chicago? Leave a comment to share them with other readers.

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