MONEYGUN (Photo credit: Clayton Hauck)

7 Chicago hot spots for less than $25 per person

By Lauren Mandel

We know the feeling—sometimes your taste buds simply surpass your budget. Though it might seem like all the best restaurants are just out of reach, there are plenty of places where you can dine well without breaking the bank. We found seven of the most buzzworthy Chicago spots that offer both incredibly delicious food and an affordable experience.

3 Greens Market
What do you get when you combine the Au Cheval burger, Doughnut Vault donuts, Green Street Smoked Meat's brisket, and a killer salad bar? Maybe our most favorite restaurant opening in recent memory. Brendan Sodikoff revamped this River North location, which was Dillman's and Cocello in past lives. Load up at the salad bar for just $9.95 per pound, or stick to the classics, like a $9.95 cheeseburger or a few doughnuts for $2.25 each. Or you could also just get it all. That works, too.

Cold Storage
If swanky Swift & Sons is a bit out of your price range, hang a left when you walk inside and head into Cold Storage instead. Chef Chris Pandel is churning out oysters, shrimp, crab—even uni—and they have one of the best happy hour deals available. From 3 to 6 p.m., you can enjoy a dozen oysters at just $1 each. Complete your meal with one of their irresistible sundaes, like the Brown Cow with chocolate root beer cake, or the MF Minty with fresh mint ice cream and peppermint meltaways. Both are just $7.

Bunny, the micro bakery
How many places in Chicago can serve foie gras for $11? We're guessing not many. At Bunny, the micro bakery opened by Iliana "Bunny" Regan, you can get owl-shaped foie gras served on fresh bread with jam for that price. And if foie gras isn't your thing, there are plenty of other items you'll want to try. Selections are seasonal and vary daily, but if you can, try the ricotta gnocchi for just $9.

Ping-pong players tend to work up a large appetite, which is why SPiN—actress Susan Sarandon's ping-pong club—is serving up some delicious eats. Chef Ariel Bagadiong’s menu focuses on sharable farm-to-table dishes; order a few different flatbreads for your group from choices like the Hawaiian, loaded with mortadella, aged Cheddar, and of course, pineapple; or the Arugula, with cured salmon and red onion. No matter which you choose, each flatbread will run you less than $20.

Pork & Mindy's
Chef Jeff Mauro (yes, Food Network's Jeff Mauro), is heading up this Bucktown barbecue spot. The focus is on sandwiches, and they're all under $10. Try the “Chicken and French Toast,” served on a vanilla-maple "French Toast" bun, or the “Bao to the Pork,” featuring hickory-smoked hand-pulled pork with an Asian twist. In addition to the food, you can walk away with a bottle of Mauro’s signature sauces that you'll want to put on just about anything.

The quieter the opening, the higher the intrigue. The owners of 16" On Center (Longman & Eagle, The Promontory, and Dusek's) opened MONEYGUN in mid-March with but a whisper, and Chicagoans are already curious about its offerings. The team says this is first and foremost a cocktail bar, but with Chef Jared Wentworth in the kitchen, we beg to differ. Choose one of their plates to enjoy with your Old Fashioned: You'll get Kentucky-fried quail, buttermilk biscuits, mac-and-cheese, and braised greens for $15, or Moroccan-spiced tofu, chermoula, and olives for just $10.

MAD Social
In Chicago, Phil Stefani is a household name. So when his daughter, Gina, decided to open her own venue, you might say she was simply following in her father's footsteps. But while she does have the family name to get her started, MAD Social in the West Loop succeeds on its own terms. Most of chef Mariela Bolaños globally inspired dishes come in at under $20. Start with the seafood ceviche for $15, or choose a dish called "Pillows"—braised beef stuffed ravioli—for just $16.

Email   Print   Tweet