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Chicago Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Cheap Eats

Get ready to save some serious money with this handy map.

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One truth in the restaurant world: Chefs know where to get amazing food at a great bargain. Just in time for Eater's Cheap Eats Week, the map below outlines a number of restaurants and holes-in-the-wall that you may or may not have heard of before, but the participating chefs feel you should visit immediately. With more than 24 choices, you can eat like a king for nearly a month without going broke.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. La Pasadita

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1140 North Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 384-6537
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James Beard award-winning chef Takashi Yagihashi’s go-to cheap dish are the carne asada tacos at La Pasadita. Yagihashi says that they have the best tacos in town due to proper seasoning and simple toppings of cilantro and onions. He always orders 3 or more tacos at a time. [Photo courtesy of La Pasadita]

2. Andy's Thai Kitchen

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946 W Wellington Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 549-7821
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Chef Eric Mansavage (Farmhouse Chicago and Evanston, as well as the upcoming Farm Bar) brings his kitchen crew to Andy's Thai Kitchen. "It's a tiny place and only fits about 20 or so people, but it has killer Thai food. Their deep fried Kai Tod half chicken packs a lot of spice and it's under $10. Can't beat that." [Photo courtesy of Andy's Thai Kitchen]

3. Big Star

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1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039
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Any time is taco time for The Pump Room chef Ross Mendoza and his pick is the $4 taco de panza at Big Star. "Pork belly + taco = yummy," adding that he loves their other tacos, too. He's also partial to Little Goat's Kilgus Farms goat patty melt and the smoked fries that accompany it. [Photo by Bill Addison]

4. Xoco

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449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 661-1434
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Carlos Contreras, chef at soon-to-open The Hampton Social, goes for Xoco's torta ahogada when he's looking for lunch at a bargain price ($11). [Eater]

5. Five Guys

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2368 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 883-8930
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For a bargain burger, Marion Street Market chef Bret Bohning chooses Five Guys' bacon double cheeseburger. "Five Guys is consistent with their product and service. Every experience I have with them is the same: great." [Photo courtesy of Nordic Nibbler]

6. Los Comales Melrose Park

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2110 W Lake St
Melrose Park, IL 60160
(708) 345-8500
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Nothing beats $1 taco Tuesdays at Melrose Park's Los Comales says Pinstripes' culinary director Cesar Gutierrez. "Best place to take the family as my kids will eat 4-5 tacos plus drinks. I walk out paying $30 or a family of five." Gutierrez is also partial to the Italian beef, cheese fries and chocolate cake at Portillo's. [Photo courtesy of Yelp]

7. Taco Nano

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1743 Orchard Ln
Northfield, IL 60093
(847) 386-7159
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Ten Mile House's Greg Carter makes a beeline for Northfield's Taco Nano when he's in need of a taco fix. His choices from chef Freddy Sanchez's menu are the duck confit tacos and pork tacos (tortillas are made fresh to order), each running $4 a piece. "They have great flavor, with mole poblano on the duck and charred pineapple and fried jalapenos on the pork." [Photo courtesy of Taco Nano]

8. En Hakkore

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1840 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-9880
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"For fast food that isn't junk food" chef Edward Kim (Ruxbin, Mott St) says the sashimi bap at En Hakkore ($12) is "quality food that's done quickly" that "still makes you feel great after eating it." The bowl features "slices of raw tuna, salmon and escolar" along with an "array of raw and pickled veggies" that is "spicy and sweet due to the Korean chili sauce of cho-jahng." [Photo courtesy of En Hakkore]

9. La Chaparrita Taqueria

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2500 S Whipple St
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 247-1402
Little Village's La Chaparrita Taqueria's huarache with frijoles y laguna ($7.99) is a dish that chef Aaron Browning of Tortoise Club says is his "go-to meal." To get "authentic Mexican flavors" that "really pop" he picks up a $4.50 house-made tepache (fermented beverage) to pair with it. [Photo courtesy of LTHForum]

10. The Purple Pig

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500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 464-1744
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Osteria Langhe chef Cameron Grant loves the $13 "JLT" from The Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr. "Grilled thick cut bread with pork jowl, citrus-y crispy greens, tomato and a duck egg is "one of the best things" he has eaten in the three years he's been in Chicago. [Photo courtesy of Homescout Realty]

11. bopNgrill

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6604 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 654-3224
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The kimchi fries and weekend-only Korean Philly cheesesteak egg rolls from bopNgrill satiates Tim Davidson's (Troquet) desire for cheap eats. "I really like the Korean influence on this seriously legit diner food." [Photo courtesy of Restaurant Club]

12. Mr. Beef

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666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 337-8500
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When River Roast chef John Hogan craves the perfect Italian beef and sausage combo, he goes with the sweet and hot from Mr. Beef on Orleans for $8.00. [Photo courtesy of Chicagoland Italian Beef]

13. Red Hot Ranch

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2072 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 772-6020
Dennis Stover of Villains Chicago likes the Red Hots at Red Hot Ranch, saying "I'll jump off the El and grab a couple of dogs. I love that they pack the fries on top of the dog." He also says that the cheese steaks ($6.99 for a small) at the Milwaukee Avenue Philly's Best are "ridiculous." [Photo courtesy of National Ave]

14. Nha Hang Viet Nam

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1032 W Argyle St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-8895
There's a couple of cheap options that Fat Rice's Abe Conlon recommends from Nha Hang Viet Nam, but Conlon says any dish is great at the Uptown restaurant. Conlon says for lunch to get #105, the com suon trung op-la, lap xuong ($7.95) featuring steamed rice served with grilled pork chop, sunshine egg and sausage. Or for dinner #23 banh xeo ($7.95) which is a crispy pancake with shrimp, pork, bean, sprouts, lettuce, mint leaves and fish sauce. [Photo courtesy of LTHForum]

15. Jim's Original Hot Dog

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1250 S Union Ave
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-7820
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When he's not running the kitchen at Embeya or planning his upcoming dumpling spot PACKED, chef Mike Sheerin stops at Jim's Original for their pork chop sandwich or the 24-hour Arturo's for "solid" pozole ($9.95) and "delicious" beef tongue tacos ($2.99). [Photo courtesy of Nara.Me]

16. The Lucky Platter

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514 Main St
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 869-4064
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Evanston's The Lucky Platter is a lunch favorite for Ellen King and Julie Matthei of Hewn bakery. "We particularly like their strawberry balsamic chicken salad with grapes, pickled onions, walnuts and goat cheese" which, with a cup of their homemade soup, makes for a "wonderful meal" for $10. [Photo courtesy of The Lucky Platter]

17. Osteria Langhe

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2824 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 661-1582
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For a full dinner at an acclaimed restaurant on the cheap side, Webster's Wine Bar chef Aaron Mooney recommends heading to Osteria Langhe on Tuesdays for their $30 three-course prix fixe menu. "The food is amazing. It is classic northern Italian cuisine that is simple, delicious and refined. It's my personal gem in Logan Square." [Photo by Timothy Hiatt]

18. Borinquen Lounge

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3811 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 442-8001
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The pork jibarito at Borinquen Lounge is the "BEST SANDWICH EVER!" according to Chrissy Camba of Maddy's Dumpling House. Camba gets an "extra side of garlic to slather on top of the plaintain." The sandwich, priced at $6.95, even comes with a side of rice. [Eater Chicago]

19. Spoon Thai

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4608 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 769-1173
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Sable Kitchen & Bar's Lawrence Letrero's "go to Thai spot" is Spoon Thai where he "without fail" orders the kai tod. The fried chicken dish is "an umami bomb. Super crispy, moist and a little bit sticky which is from the caramelization of the sugars in the marinade when it's fried." He adds that you get a lot of bang for your buck with the $6.95 dish. "You get a big plate of fried chicken, easily half a chicken's worth" along with a side of steamed vegetables and white rice. [Photo courtesy of Spoon Thai]

20. Table, Donkey and Stick

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2728 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 486-8525
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The Radler’s Nathan Sears loves the Monday deals at Table, Donkey and Stick, saying that “the prices are crazy and the delicious level is high.” He’s also excited for Ramen Misoya to expand into Chicago, but still runs out “many times” to Mount Prospect for the tonkotsu ramen. [Photo courtesy of Table, Donkey and Stick]

21. Tank Noodle

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4953 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-2253
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Chef Doug Psaltis (RPM Steak) loves heading to Tank Noodle for the banh mi sandwich ($5.95) and/or the grilled pork cold vermicelli ($10.95). [Photo courtesy of Yelp]

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1. La Pasadita

1140 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
James Beard award-winning chef Takashi Yagihashi’s go-to cheap dish are the carne asada tacos at La Pasadita. Yagihashi says that they have the best tacos in town due to proper seasoning and simple toppings of cilantro and onions. He always orders 3 or more tacos at a time. [Photo courtesy of La Pasadita]
1140 North Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

2. Andy's Thai Kitchen

946 W Wellington Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Chef Eric Mansavage (Farmhouse Chicago and Evanston, as well as the upcoming Farm Bar) brings his kitchen crew to Andy's Thai Kitchen. "It's a tiny place and only fits about 20 or so people, but it has killer Thai food. Their deep fried Kai Tod half chicken packs a lot of spice and it's under $10. Can't beat that." [Photo courtesy of Andy's Thai Kitchen]
946 W Wellington Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

3. Big Star

1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Any time is taco time for The Pump Room chef Ross Mendoza and his pick is the $4 taco de panza at Big Star. "Pork belly + taco = yummy," adding that he loves their other tacos, too. He's also partial to Little Goat's Kilgus Farms goat patty melt and the smoked fries that accompany it. [Photo by Bill Addison]
1531 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

4. Xoco

449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Carlos Contreras, chef at soon-to-open The Hampton Social, goes for Xoco's torta ahogada when he's looking for lunch at a bargain price ($11). [Eater]
449 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

5. Five Guys

2368 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
For a bargain burger, Marion Street Market chef Bret Bohning chooses Five Guys' bacon double cheeseburger. "Five Guys is consistent with their product and service. Every experience I have with them is the same: great." [Photo courtesy of Nordic Nibbler]
2368 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Los Comales Melrose Park

2110 W Lake St, Melrose Park, IL 60160
Nothing beats $1 taco Tuesdays at Melrose Park's Los Comales says Pinstripes' culinary director Cesar Gutierrez. "Best place to take the family as my kids will eat 4-5 tacos plus drinks. I walk out paying $30 or a family of five." Gutierrez is also partial to the Italian beef, cheese fries and chocolate cake at Portillo's. [Photo courtesy of Yelp]
2110 W Lake St
Melrose Park, IL 60160

7. Taco Nano

1743 Orchard Ln, Northfield, IL 60093
Ten Mile House's Greg Carter makes a beeline for Northfield's Taco Nano when he's in need of a taco fix. His choices from chef Freddy Sanchez's menu are the duck confit tacos and pork tacos (tortillas are made fresh to order), each running $4 a piece. "They have great flavor, with mole poblano on the duck and charred pineapple and fried jalapenos on the pork." [Photo courtesy of Taco Nano]
1743 Orchard Ln
Northfield, IL 60093

8. En Hakkore

1840 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
"For fast food that isn't junk food" chef Edward Kim (Ruxbin, Mott St) says the sashimi bap at En Hakkore ($12) is "quality food that's done quickly" that "still makes you feel great after eating it." The bowl features "slices of raw tuna, salmon and escolar" along with an "array of raw and pickled veggies" that is "spicy and sweet due to the Korean chili sauce of cho-jahng." [Photo courtesy of En Hakkore]
1840 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

9. La Chaparrita Taqueria

2500 S Whipple St, Chicago, IL 60623
Little Village's La Chaparrita Taqueria's huarache with frijoles y laguna ($7.99) is a dish that chef Aaron Browning of Tortoise Club says is his "go-to meal." To get "authentic Mexican flavors" that "really pop" he picks up a $4.50 house-made tepache (fermented beverage) to pair with it. [Photo courtesy of LTHForum]
2500 S Whipple St
Chicago, IL 60623

10. The Purple Pig

500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Osteria Langhe chef Cameron Grant loves the $13 "JLT" from The Purple Pig's Jimmy Bannos Jr. "Grilled thick cut bread with pork jowl, citrus-y crispy greens, tomato and a duck egg is "one of the best things" he has eaten in the three years he's been in Chicago. [Photo courtesy of Homescout Realty]
500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

11. bopNgrill

6604 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626
The kimchi fries and weekend-only Korean Philly cheesesteak egg rolls from bopNgrill satiates Tim Davidson's (Troquet) desire for cheap eats. "I really like the Korean influence on this seriously legit diner food." [Photo courtesy of Restaurant Club]
6604 N Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60626

12. Mr. Beef

666 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654
When River Roast chef John Hogan craves the perfect Italian beef and sausage combo, he goes with the sweet and hot from Mr. Beef on Orleans for $8.00. [Photo courtesy of Chicagoland Italian Beef]
666 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60654

13. Red Hot Ranch

2072 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Dennis Stover of Villains Chicago likes the Red Hots at Red Hot Ranch, saying "I'll jump off the El and grab a couple of dogs. I love that they pack the fries on top of the dog." He also says that the cheese steaks ($6.99 for a small) at the Milwaukee Avenue Philly's Best are "ridiculous." [Photo courtesy of National Ave]
2072 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

14. Nha Hang Viet Nam

1032 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL 60640
There's a couple of cheap options that Fat Rice's Abe Conlon recommends from Nha Hang Viet Nam, but Conlon says any dish is great at the Uptown restaurant. Conlon says for lunch to get #105, the com suon trung op-la, lap xuong ($7.95) featuring steamed rice served with grilled pork chop, sunshine egg and sausage. Or for dinner #23 banh xeo ($7.95) which is a crispy pancake with shrimp, pork, bean, sprouts, lettuce, mint leaves and fish sauce. [Photo courtesy of LTHForum]
1032 W Argyle St
Chicago, IL 60640

15. Jim's Original Hot Dog

1250 S Union Ave, Chicago, IL 60607
When he's not running the kitchen at Embeya or planning his upcoming dumpling spot PACKED, chef Mike Sheerin stops at Jim's Original for their pork chop sandwich or the 24-hour Arturo's for "solid" pozole ($9.95) and "delicious" beef tongue tacos ($2.99). [Photo courtesy of Nara.Me]
1250 S Union Ave
Chicago, IL 60607

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16. The Lucky Platter

514 Main St, Evanston, IL 60202
Evanston's The Lucky Platter is a lunch favorite for Ellen King and Julie Matthei of Hewn bakery. "We particularly like their strawberry balsamic chicken salad with grapes, pickled onions, walnuts and goat cheese" which, with a cup of their homemade soup, makes for a "wonderful meal" for $10. [Photo courtesy of The Lucky Platter]
514 Main St
Evanston, IL 60202

17. Osteria Langhe

2824 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
For a full dinner at an acclaimed restaurant on the cheap side, Webster's Wine Bar chef Aaron Mooney recommends heading to Osteria Langhe on Tuesdays for their $30 three-course prix fixe menu. "The food is amazing. It is classic northern Italian cuisine that is simple, delicious and refined. It's my personal gem in Logan Square." [Photo by Timothy Hiatt]
2824 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

18. Borinquen Lounge

3811 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
The pork jibarito at Borinquen Lounge is the "BEST SANDWICH EVER!" according to Chrissy Camba of Maddy's Dumpling House. Camba gets an "extra side of garlic to slather on top of the plaintain." The sandwich, priced at $6.95, even comes with a side of rice. [Eater Chicago]
3811 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

19. Spoon Thai

4608 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Sable Kitchen & Bar's Lawrence Letrero's "go to Thai spot" is Spoon Thai where he "without fail" orders the kai tod. The fried chicken dish is "an umami bomb. Super crispy, moist and a little bit sticky which is from the caramelization of the sugars in the marinade when it's fried." He adds that you get a lot of bang for your buck with the $6.95 dish. "You get a big plate of fried chicken, easily half a chicken's worth" along with a side of steamed vegetables and white rice. [Photo courtesy of Spoon Thai]
4608 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

20. Table, Donkey and Stick

2728 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
The Radler’s Nathan Sears loves the Monday deals at Table, Donkey and Stick, saying that “the prices are crazy and the delicious level is high.” He’s also excited for Ramen Misoya to expand into Chicago, but still runs out “many times” to Mount Prospect for the tonkotsu ramen. [Photo courtesy of Table, Donkey and Stick]
2728 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

21. Tank Noodle

4953 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
Chef Doug Psaltis (RPM Steak) loves heading to Tank Noodle for the banh mi sandwich ($5.95) and/or the grilled pork cold vermicelli ($10.95). [Photo courtesy of Yelp]
4953 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

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