clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
La Pasadita
La Pasadita
Facebook

Chicago Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Cheap Eats

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

View as Map
La Pasadita
| Facebook

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.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Borinquen Lounge

Copy Link

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]

Andy's Thai Kitchen

Copy Link

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]

Big Star

Copy Link

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]

Spoon Thai

Copy Link

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]

La Pasadita

Copy Link

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]

Nha Hang Viet Nam

Copy Link

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]

Osteria Langhe

Copy Link

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]

Los Comales Melrose Park

Copy Link

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]

En Hakkore

Copy Link

"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]

Five Guys

Copy Link

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]

Taco Nano

Copy Link

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]

Mr. Beef

Copy Link

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]

La Chaparrita Taqueria

Copy Link

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]

Jim's Original Hot Dog

Copy Link

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]

The Lucky Platter

Copy Link

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]

The Purple Pig

Copy Link

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]

Red Hot Ranch

Copy Link

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]

bopNgrill

Copy Link

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]

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]

Table, Donkey and Stick

Copy Link

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]

Tank Noodle

Copy Link

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]

Loading comments...

Borinquen Lounge

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]

Andy's Thai Kitchen

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]

Big Star

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]

Spoon Thai

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]

La Pasadita

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]

Nha Hang Viet Nam

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]

Osteria Langhe

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]

Los Comales Melrose Park

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]

En Hakkore

"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]