Chicago Cheap Eats: 10 of The Most Iconic Meals Under $10
Italian beef, barbecue, Maxwell Street polish sausages, craft beer—Chicago is home to countless iconic (and cheap) eats. But with massive options comes massive indecision. To help, we curated this list of our 10 favorite Chicago cheap eats under $10. Grab a sawbuck and get ready to dig in.
Polish Sausage at Jim's Original Hot Dog
2050 S. Union Ave. | Little Italy - University Village
Chicago is known for its fully loaded hot dogs (don't worry, we've got one of those on this list too), but there's another famous sausage in town: the Maxwell Street polish hot dog. Founder Jimmy Stefanovic invented the renowned dog almost 70 years ago, and the rest is caramelized-onion-topped history ($4.50 with fries and free pop).
Deep-Dish Pizza at Pequod's Pizza
2207 North Clybourn Ave. | Lincoln Park
There are a lot of deep-dish heavyweights in town, and they all have their fans, but most locals point to this spot as the best in town thanks to its signature caramelized-cheese crust. Drop in on a weekday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. for the lunch special and you can enjoy your own 7-inch personalized version ($4.95 with free soda).
Cemita Sandwich at Cemitas Puebla
3129 West Armitage Ave. | Logan Square
Chicago is a mecca for cheap tacos, but lovers of authentic Mexican eats find something even more special here: the cemita, a sandwich you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else outside of Puebla, Mexico. Each one starts with a homemade roll and is topped with al pastor, carne asada, or one of seven other fillings ($7.95).
Fried Chicken at Harold's Chicken Shack
124 East 35th St. | Bronzeville
No itinerary of the best places to eat in Chicago would be complete without a stop at this beloved comfort-food spot, widely considered the best fried chicken in town. Prices can vary by location, but expect to pay around $10 for a quarter-chicken dinner with slaw and hot sauce.
Italian Beef Sandwich at Al's Italian Beef
3420 N. Clark St. | Wrigleyville
No Chicago foodie quest would be complete without at least one Italian beef sandwich. And there's no better place to visit than this beloved institution, which has been dishing out the juicy delicacies since 1938. ($6.59; prices vary by location).
Smoked Fish at Calumet Fisheries
3259 E. 95th St. | Far South Side
This tiny road-side shack might not look like much, but that's only because you've yet to taste its natural wood-smoked salmon, trout, or sturgeon. Once you do, you'll realize why so many experts consider it one of the top cheap restaurants in Chicago. Smoked fish is priced by the pound, but the equally delicious fried shrimp and fish dinners can all be had for well under $10 per half-order.
Hot Dog at Gene & Jude's
2720 River Rd. | River Grove
This iconic hot dog stand open since 1946 is famous for adding its own spin to the Chicago-style hot dog (they top the whole thing with french fries). It's totally worth the line, and at just $3, may just be one of the best cheap eats in Chicago.
Pork Belly Bao at Slurping Turtle
116 West Hubbard St. | Near North Side
The signature ramen bowls fall just out of range of our $10 Chicago cheap eats limit, but you can heartily enjoy the pillowy steamed buns, also stuffed with daikon-arugula salad, pickles, spicy mustard, and soy-ginger glaze, for just $4 a pop.
Cake and Coffee at Lutz Cafe & Pastry Shop
2458 W Montrose Ave. | Ravenswood
This family-owned bakery has been whipping up sweet treats since 1948. Pair a slice of strawberry whipped cream cake (a crowd-favorite at $4.99), with the super-fancy Vienna coffee service, served on a silver tray ($3.75).
Breaded Steak Sandwich at Ricobene's
252 West 26th St. | Bridgeport