clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
GT Fish & Oyster
GT Fish & Oyster
Facebook

20 Great Affordable Lunch Options at Pricey Restaurants

Reasons to try those spots that you normally may not be able to afford.

View as Map
GT Fish & Oyster
| Facebook

Dinners at some of Chicago's fancier restaurants can be expensive. Sure, every once in a while the average person can venture out to RPM Steak, Naha or even Sixteen, spend a wad of cash and not suffer too much, but it's not something most can do regularly. A great way to maximize your restaurant sampling while spending less is by visiting these same places during lunch time. Between prix fixe menus, sandwiches and alternate lunch menus, the 20 options below are a great way to keep costs down and still expand your eating horizons.

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

Gene & Georgetti

Copy Link

You can get quite a bargain between dinner and lunch service at Gene & Georgetti. Prices are a lot lower for the lunch crowd (the pepper steak is $10 cheaper), and there are a few non-dinner options (Schultz Special) that can only be found during this time. [Photo courtesy of Gene & Georgetti]

Travelle

Copy Link

This toney spot has a lunch special dubbed “The Wabash Express,” that, for $29, lets customers choose items for a three course (appetizer, entrée, dessert) meal. Entree options include the spicy half chicken (normally $26) and the king salmon (normally $31). [Photo courtesy of Travelle]

Fig & Olive

Copy Link

Monday through Friday, guests can try a three course prix-fixe menu for $25, featuring many dishes that are on the dinner menu for much, much more (the rosemary lamb chops are normally $39). [Photo by Marc Much]

If you’re interested in trying something new, Sunda offers a special featuring a seasonal dish called the “Lucky 8s lunch special” for $8.88. Past dishes have included tempura crab and asparagus maki or grilled shrimp and sea bass skewers. [Eater]

RPM Steak

Copy Link

You can grab a number of dishes on the Monday through Friday lunch menu that are not available at dinner. $18 gets you a 5 ounce prime steak sandwich (the 10 ounce steak on its own is $52 at dinner) on ciabatta with baby arugula, Maytag blue cheese, caramelized onions and a side of fries. There’s also the RPM truffle burger for $17 featuring truffle aioli, foie gras butter on a brioche bun and a side of fries. You can reward yourself with luxury and not worry about spending too much. [Photo by Marc Much]

Mercat a la Planxa

Copy Link

This South Loop hotspot has a great patio special named the “Bikini Sandwich” for only $10 and it includes a glass of Spanish wine or beer. Named for Barcelona’s Bikini Music Hall, which served a version of the French Croque Monsieur, Mercat’s features serrano ham, truffle manchego cheese, toasted brioche and rosemary peach jam. They also have an $18 Catalan Express lunch of two courses with a fountain drink or iced tea. [Photo courtesy of Mercat a la Planxa]

Enjoying a dinner at Michelin-starred Sepia can be an expensive option for regular folks, but at lunch the fancy restaurant serves up a number of sandwich options (Thai chicken sausage, Sepia burger) for around $15 that won’t break the bank. [Photo courtesy of Sepia]

C Chicago

Copy Link

From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., $27 gets you a taste of C Chicago, the brand new seafood spot from the Chicago Cut guys at an affordable price. The prix fixe meal features choices available within appetizers (chilled English pea soup), main course (Scottish salmon) along with a side of vegetables as well as a dessert. [Photo by Barry Brecheisen]

Sixteen

Copy Link

If you really want to play at being a high roller but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it, Sixteen’s two course lunch for $44 might be the best fit. The 2 Michelin star restaurant’s prix fixe menu includes options such as Shigoku oyster and caviar with watercress and navet cream (normally $27) and Maine lobster, roasted fennel, vadouvan carrots and potato gnocchi (normally $37) that will save you a considerable amount of cash. [Photo courtesy of Sixteen]

David Burke's Primehouse

Copy Link

You can rack up a pretty hefty check at Primehouse for dinner, but lunch offers some really great deals that still allow you to enjoy the steakhouse in all of its glory. Steak frites featuring an eye of ribeye can be had for $34 (the cheapest ribeye steak costs $51), and then there’s the 40-day dry-aged prime steak burger for only $16 that includes spinach, caramelized onion, bacon, black pepper aioli, a side of fries and your choice of cheese. [Photo by Barry Brecheisen]

GT Fish and Oyster

Copy Link

This restaurant from the Boka group headed by chef Giuseppe Tentori can be pricey when you wander in to the market price territory (or just decide to order with abandon), but for lunch they offer a reasonable $25 prix fixe option that includes choices such as tuna poke, striped bass (which on its own for dinner costs $18) and a dessert. [Photo courtesy of GT Fish & Oyster]

With new chef Mike Sheerin in the kitchen, Embeya gives guests a taste at lunch time with the hopes that they explore more later. $25 gets a three course menu of appetizer, entrée and dessert. [Photo by Jason Little]

Smith & Wollensky

Copy Link

Another steakhouse with pretty sizable price cuts for steaks during lunch is Smith & Wollensky. A 10 ounce steak au poivre is $40 at lunch, $7 less than at dinner. The pink peppercorn crusted tuna and pan seared salmon are also discounted at lunch if you’re looking for something lighter. [Photo courtesy of Smith & Wollensky]

Rural Society

Copy Link

Get all of the smoky glory at Rural Society for a fraction of the cost with one of their lunch time only sandwiches. Topping out at $17 for their burger and as low as $14 for housemade chorizo sausage with smoke tomato and chimichurri (all sandwiches includes chips), you’ll get a good feel for the food on the cheap. [Photo by Marc Much]

Right now Carrie Nahabedian’s Naha is offering an “Early Summer” menu featuring soup of the day, North African “tangine” of chicken thigh with blood orange, bulghur wheat pilaf, grilled eggplant, carrots and cilantro that ends with desert of bittersweet chocolate pave. It’s the perfect excuse to try this acclaimed restaurant and save money (the lowest priced entrée at dinner is the braised beef short ribs at $35). [Photo courtesy of Naha]

Tête Charcuterie

Copy Link

Tete Charcuterie's Thomas Rice and Kurt Guzowski have been getting a lot of notice for their lunch menu, which features a number of tasty sandwich options for $12 each (and they include housemade chips). Whether it’s the jambon beurre (Parisian ham, gruyere, salted butter on a baguette) or the salumi (chorizo, manchego, arugula, romesco), you’ll get a filling lunch on the cheap. [Photo by Marc Much]

Nico Osteria

Copy Link

One Off Hospitality’s glitzy, Gold Coast-located Nico Osteria gets a down to Earth affordable lunch option with their $25 three course menu. Featuring lentil and escarole soup, a choice between a pasta and a panini for your main course and then two options for dessert, it’s the best excuse to see what all the raves are about. [Photo by Marc Much]

Get transported to Spain on the cheap with Salero’s prix fixe lunch menu where you can eat Iberico ham to start, scallops a la plancha for your main and then end the meal with one of their incredibly light churros for only $25. [Photo by Marc Much]

Sumi Robata Bar

Copy Link

Those robata skewers can surprisingly add up, especially when you’re chasing them down with plenty of Japanese beer. Well you shouldn’t be drinking during work hours anyway, but a terrific option for lunch can be Sumi Robata Bar’s bento boxes which feature vegetables, salmon, skirt steak or chicken over rice as well as miso or chicken soup, salad and a seafood croquette. That’s a lot of food for $15. [Photo by Barry Brecheisen]

Filini Restaurant and Bar

Copy Link

Filini’s “rapido” lunch for $21 packs in a lot of Italian goodness for a reasonable price. You can choose soup or salad, an entrée (choices include the crispy citrus-marinated chicken breast with oven roasted garlic potatoes and heirloom cherry tomatoes, which is normally $22 for dinner on its own), and dessert. [Photo courtesy of Filini]

Gene & Georgetti

You can get quite a bargain between dinner and lunch service at Gene & Georgetti. Prices are a lot lower for the lunch crowd (the pepper steak is $10 cheaper), and there are a few non-dinner options (Schultz Special) that can only be found during this time. [Photo courtesy of Gene & Georgetti]

Travelle

This toney spot has a lunch special dubbed “The Wabash Express,” that, for $29, lets customers choose items for a three course (appetizer, entrée, dessert) meal. Entree options include the spicy half chicken (normally $26) and the king salmon (normally $31). [Photo courtesy of Travelle]

Fig & Olive

Monday through Friday, guests can try a three course prix-fixe menu for $25, featuring many dishes that are on the dinner menu for much, much more (the rosemary lamb chops are normally $39). [Photo by Marc Much]

Sunda

If you’re interested in trying something new, Sunda offers a special featuring a seasonal dish called the “Lucky 8s lunch special” for $8.88. Past dishes have included tempura crab and asparagus maki or grilled shrimp and sea bass skewers. [Eater]

RPM Steak

You can grab a number of dishes on the Monday through Friday lunch menu that are not available at dinner. $18 gets you a 5 ounce prime steak sandwich (the 10 ounce steak on its own is $52 at dinner) on ciabatta with baby arugula, Maytag blue cheese, caramelized onions and a side of fries. There’s also the RPM truffle burger for $17 featuring truffle aioli, foie gras butter on a brioche bun and a side of fries. You can reward yourself with luxury and not worry about spending too much. [Photo by Marc Much]

Mercat a la Planxa

This South Loop hotspot has a great patio special named the “Bikini Sandwich” for only $10 and it includes a glass of Spanish wine or beer. Named for Barcelona’s Bikini Music Hall, which served a version of the French Croque Monsieur, Mercat’s features serrano ham, truffle manchego cheese, toasted brioche and rosemary peach jam. They also have an $18 Catalan Express lunch of two courses with a fountain drink or iced tea. [Photo courtesy of Mercat a la Planxa]

Sepia

Enjoying a dinner at Michelin-starred Sepia can be an expensive option for regular folks, but at lunch the fancy restaurant serves up a number of sandwich options (Thai chicken sausage, Sepia burger) for around $15 that won’t break the bank. [Photo courtesy of Sepia]

C Chicago

From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., $27 gets you a taste of C Chicago, the brand new seafood spot from the Chicago Cut guys at an affordable price. The prix fixe meal features choices available within appetizers (chilled English pea soup), main course (Scottish salmon) along with a side of vegetables as well as a dessert. [Photo by Barry Brecheisen]

Sixteen

If you really want to play at being a high roller but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it, Sixteen’s two course lunch for $44 might be the best fit. The 2 Michelin star restaurant’s prix fixe menu includes options such as Shigoku oyster and caviar with watercress and navet cream (normally $27) and Maine lobster, roasted fennel, vadouvan carrots and potato gnocchi (normally $37) that will save you a considerable amount of cash. [Photo courtesy of Sixteen]

David Burke's Primehouse