Forget the Cup Noodles. So what if you're armed only with a crisp Alexander Hamilton? Ten dollars can go a long way in this town. From lobster-studded mac and cheese to 14-hour smoked brisket to a savory potpie in a house-made leaf lard crust, here are nine of our favorite cheap eats across the city.
Nonna's, West Loop
The counter-service sandwich shop attached to Restaurant Row newcomer Formento's offers a menu almost exclusively under $10; pick up a classic meatball sub ($8.50) gussied up with Nonna's house-made marinara sauce, mozzarella and giardiniera ($1) on ciabatta to go, or eat in at the tiny bar.
Roxie's by the Slice, Bucktown
Brendan Sodikoff's by-the-slice pizzeria slings red or white pie wedges ($4.50) as big as your head. And with toppings that cost just $1 a pop, you can load that piece up with prosciutto, soppressata, anchovies and 'shrooms without breaking the bank.
Good Stuff Eatery, The Loop
When it comes to a great, affordable burger, few things beat the 2014 Hamburger Hop-winning Prez Obama Burger ($7.25) at chef Spike Mendelsohn's new fast-casual spot. The beefy masterpiece comes with applewood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo, giving even the hautest burgers in town a run for their money.
Prez Obama Burger | Photo: Courtesy of Good Stuff Eatery
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, Logan Square
Bang Bang may be best known for sweet pies and pastries, but its savory chicken potpie for one ($9) is on point, too. The single-serving pie is filled with chicken gravy, carrots and peas, and topped with a remarkably flavorful, flaky leaf lard crust.
One of Chicago's best wing joints is tucked away in a tiny, unassuming storefront in Lakeview, where an order of five jumbo wings lacquered in Seoul Sassy sauce runs just $9. The bird is twice fried for maximum crispiness, and the sticky-sweet, soy-ginger-garlic sauce is as delicious as it is messy.
Da Lobsta, Gold Coast/French Market/River North
While the rich, Old Bay-sprinkled lobster rolls at this all-things-crustacean emporium will run you closer to $13, the creamy lobster mac 'n' cheese clocks in at an even $10 (plus tax and gratuity) and tastes arguably more satisfying.
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Cemitas Puebla, West Loop/Humboldt Park
Oversize cemita sandwiches have their day at this Mexican favorite. Go big with the Arabe ($8), filled with succulent spit-roasted pork, onions, avocado, house-made chipotle sauce and Oaxacan cheese on a sesame seed roll.
Smoque BBQ, Irving Park
This North Side barbecue haven is home to all manner of meat, but the sliced brisket sandwich ($9) offers the best bang for your buck. The tender beef is smoked for 14 hours before making its way to your bun, resulting in one rich, smoky sandwich.
Al's #1 Italian Beef, University Village
There's nothing more Chicago than an Italian beef sandwich, so head to the original Al's on Taylor Street to experience the juicy Big Beef ($7.35) in all its glory. It's not the cheapest sandwich in town, but it's still well under the ten-dollar mark, and the classic recipe remains nothing short of legendary.
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