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20 Great Affordable Lunch Options at Pricey Restaurants

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

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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 SteakNaha 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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Travelle

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330 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 923-7705
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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]

2. Fig & Olive

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104 E Oak St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 445-0060
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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]

3. Sunda

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110 W Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 644-0500
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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]

4. RPM Steak

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66 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 284-4990
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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]

5. Mercat a la Planxa

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638 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 765-0524
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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]

6. Sepia

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123 N Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 441-1920
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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]

7. Sixteen

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401 N Wabash Ave Fl 16
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 588-8030
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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]

8. David Burke's Primehouse

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616 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 660-6000
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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]

9. GT Fish and Oyster

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531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 929-3501
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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]

10. Embeya

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564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 612-5640
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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]

11. Rural Society

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455 N Park Dr
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 840-6605
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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]

12. Naha

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500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 321-6242
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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]

13. Tête Charcuterie

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1114 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 733-1178
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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]

14. Nico Osteria

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1015 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 994-7100
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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]

15. Salero

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621 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 466-1000
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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]

16. Sumi Robata Bar

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702 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 988-7864
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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]

17. Gene & Georgetti

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500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 527-3718
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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]

18. C Chicago

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20 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 280-8882
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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]

19. Smith & Wollensky

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318 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 670-9900
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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]

20. Filini Restaurant and Bar

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221 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 477-0234
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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]

1. Travelle

330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
330 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

2. Fig & Olive

104 E Oak St, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
104 E Oak St
Chicago, IL 60611

3. Sunda

110 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
110 W Illinois St
Chicago, IL 60654

4. RPM Steak

66 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
66 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

5. Mercat a la Planxa

638 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
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]
638 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

6. Sepia

123 N Jefferson St, Chicago, IL 60661
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]
123 N Jefferson St
Chicago, IL 60661

7. Sixteen

401 N Wabash Ave Fl 16, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
401 N Wabash Ave Fl 16
Chicago, IL 60611

8. David Burke's Primehouse

616 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
616 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

9. GT Fish and Oyster

531 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
531 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Embeya

564 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661
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]
564 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661

11. Rural Society

455 N Park Dr, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
455 N Park Dr
Chicago, IL 60611

12. Naha

500 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

13. Tête Charcuterie

1114 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
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]
1114 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607

14. Nico Osteria

1015 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
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]
1015 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

15. Salero

621 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661
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]
621 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60661

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16. Sumi Robata Bar

702 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
702 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

17. Gene & Georgetti

500 N Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
500 N Franklin St
Chicago, IL 60654

18. C Chicago

20 W Kinzie St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
20 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654

19. Smith & Wollensky

318 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654
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]
318 N State St
Chicago, IL 60654

20. Filini Restaurant and Bar

221 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
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]
221 N Columbus Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

Related Maps