Cheap eats in downtown Chicago is a relative term. There are of course lots of fast food options like McDonalds and Subway but you do not need us to tell you about those. The following are the best places to go in downtown Chicago to have a reasonably priced, good tasting, meal. You can also check our Deals Page for opportunities for cheap eats.
Water Tower Place Food Court: This is not a food court full of fast food options. There are several stations that operate independently.They include: soups, Asian, BBQ, salads, and several more. All of the food is tasty and reasonably priced. You pay as you leave so kids can order on their own which makes it family friendly.
Macy's on State: Another food court with good options. There are 5 independent stations: soup, salad & sandwich, Asian, burgers and Mexican. World famous chefs Rick Bayless & Marcus Samuelsson are behind the Mexican and burger places respectively.
Chicago Pizza: Chicago style pizzas are expensive but they are also very filling. A large, which usually costs around $20 can feed 4. Without drinks you can have a salad and pizza for less than $10 a person. Pizza places are everywhere and to be honest we have not found there to be a big difference in the quality. So pick one with a short wait.
Greek Diners: There are several in the downtown area. They are mostly known for their breakfasts but they also have a decent lunches. They have a large variety of options like: salads, rubens, patti melts and diet plates. Tempo and West Egg are good choices.
Portillio's: A bit of a fast food place, but if you want to try a Chicago style hotdog and not have to sit at a counter it is your best options. They are the most well known hot dog place in the area. 100 W. Ontario, 587-8910, Website
Billy Goat: A dive hidden under Michigan Ave. that was made famous on Saturday Night Live. Mostly just burgers and fries. It is an institutions. 430 N. Mich., 222-1525
Kan Zaman: Great Lebanese fare in a fun setting. They have especially tasty appetizers like humus and baba ganoush. The rest of the menu is classic Middle Eastern fare. 617 N. Wells, 751-9600.
Places in the city but not right downtown
Chinatown: There are a ton of cheap places to eat. Three Happiness is known for its dim sum and Moon Palace caters to English speakers. Chinatown can be reached by water taxi in the summer or by taking the red line south to the Chinatown stop.
Argyle Street: Part Chinese and part Vietnamese. A mix of locals and Chicagoans from other parts of the city. Less expensive than Chinatown but not a great neighborhood. Hai Yen is our favorite. We love the Bo La Lat and the Pho. 1055 W. Argyle, 773-561-4077
Abyssian Ethiopian: Great food in a fairly sparse atmosphere. The owner waits on you and he takes his food and services very seriously. He is very helpful but the wait for your entrees can take a long time. 5842 N. Broadway, 773-271-7133
Hot Doug's: Hot dogs for foodies sounds crazy but they make it work. They make a great hot dog but the reason some many trek here from downtown is the unusual sausage offerings. The have sausages with smoked gouda, cray fish, wild boar, duck and many other crazy things. The duck fat fries are a treat, but only on Friday & Saturday. 3324 N. California, 773-279-9550
R.J. Grunts: A cheap, family friendly place close to the Lincoln Park Zoo. They have a variety of sandwiches and a well stocked salad bar. The burgers and shakes are a specialty. 2056 Lincoln Park West, 773-929-5363