Mac & Cheese With Bell Pepper Bowls, Because Dishes Are the Worst
CafecitoAddress and Info
South Loop, The Loop
One of the best Cuban sandwiches in the city can be yours for $5.79. The Cubano's citrus-garlic-marinated, cumin-rubbed lechon asado is situated between perfectly toasted and grill-pressed bread loaves. Thin-sliced roasted pork that's griddled with more homemade mojo is paired with cured ham, gooey Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard for a flavorful Latin lunch.
La BombaAddress and Info
The load-bearing capacity of thin, crispy plantain planks are tested by piles of grilled steak, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melted cheese with this beloved Puerto Rican joint's $6 "hee-bah-ree-toe."
Shredded pork arepa
Puesto Sandwich StandAddress and Info
Venezuelan-inspired arepas can be found at this low-key sandwich and snack outpost, which features a popular Puesto arepa filled with shredded pork, guacamole, and queso Cotija and a Cuban sandwich-style arepa with sliced ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo for $6 each. Splurge on a homemade horchata for $2.25 or any of the Jarrito float flavors for $5.
Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sub
BariAddress and Info
Near West Side, Noble Square
Six dollars is more than enough to score a solid 9in Italian sub packed with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables, condiments, and seasonings at this neighborhood mainstay. The $6 prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sub is one of the many hot and cold combinations you'll find at the old-fashioned Italian grocery store. Others tout homemade Italian and Barese sausages, house giardiniera, fresh-made pestos and sauces, and imported cheeses for less than $5.50.
BBQ pork bánh mì
Nhu Lan BakeryAddress and Info
Lincoln Square, Uptown
For the most part, Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches are synonymous with "cheap meal." A few spots that shall go unnamed can surpass the $6 budget line, but you should never go to these places when less expensive, notably better options can be found elsewhere in the city. This authentic bakery dishes up some of the best you'll find, and the BBQ pork with pickled vegetables, jalapeños, and lots of cilantro tucked in fresh-baked baguettes for $4.95 is no exception if you can get it before they run out for the day.
Corned beef sandwich
Kasia's DeliAddress and Info
Known for dishing up some of the best Polish food in Chicago, most notably its pierogi, the deli can also hold its own when it comes to corned beef. The warm Irish corned beef sandwich is piled with flavorful, shaved meat that's been cooked in-house, pickle slices, lettuce, mustard, and a mild Swiss cheese on rye. Its $5.29 price point comes with a 1/2lb of sauerkraut, but you can opt out of the side of kraut and save yourself 70 cents. Polish-style sandwiches with traditional smoked sausage and an Old World Polish panini with Krakus ham, Podlaski cheese, and hard-boiled eggs on rye won't even cost you $5 here.
Ricobene'sAddress and Info
You'll feel like the richest person alive when you sink $5.69 into a regular-sized meatball sandwich, and witness a hearty return in the form of giant beef balls coated in cheese and marinara sauce on French bread. With the exception of the notorious breaded steak sandwich, most of the sandwiches here, including the Sicilian beef and Italian sausage, are less than $6, so you'll have reason to visit again and again.
Chicken tikka kabob sandwich
Salam RestaurantAddress and Info
Albany Park, Lincoln Park
This Middle Eastern spot serves a reliable, spicy mix of grilled chicken breast pieces that've been marinated in a special hot tikka blend, tomatoes, raw onions, and tahini and/or hot sauce in a pillowy pita or wrap for $5.99. The juicy chicken tikka kabob sandwich might fall apart at its warm pita seams while you're quickly devouring it. Accompany it with a side of house-made hummus or baba ghanoush to offset the deliciously slow burn.
Sultan's MarketAddress and Info
Lincoln Park, Wicker Park
This fast-casual spot's giant falafel sandwich served in a warm, hummus-lined pita is a real steal at $3.68. It's filled with a flavorful Jerusalem salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion, and parsley, topped with creamy tahini, and can be prepared as spicy as you can handle.
Lawrence's FisheriesAddress and Info
They don't make fish sandwiches for less than $6 in this city, unless you come here. The 24/7 eatery has a loyal following for its fried seafood, and the fried cod fillet sandwich is a tasty choice for $5.95 when the craving strikes, any time of the day or night.
Pimiento cheese sandwich
Big JonesAddress and Info
Grilled cheese is the go-to budget-friendly sandwich anywhere you can get it, but not all cheesy menu items are as soul-satisfying as the pimiento cheese sandwich at this Southern food joint. The melty $6 grilled cheese appetizer on marbled rye throws a Cajun punch with Worcestershire sauce and local heirloom pimientos blended into the cheddar.
Nashville hot chicken sandwich
The Roost Carolina KitchenAddress and Info
Lakeview, River West
Crispy, spicy chicken with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese sandwiched between flaky buttermilk biscuits won't set you back more than $6 at this Carolina-style spot. If you're not into the steam-out-your-ears heat level, take it down a notch from the Nashville Hot variation to spicy or even the good ol' original fried chicken recipe. While the sandwich alone is just $6, it's worth mentioning the meal specials add a choice of two sides or one side and one dessert for $9, which means you can pig out on the chicken sandwich, creamy mac & cheese, AND peach cobbler.
Rib-eye steak sandwich
Moon's Sandwich ShopAddress and Info
While it might be widely recognized for its corned beef-stuffed sandwiches, this small, old-school diner's menu is loaded with handheld offerings that won't set you back more than $6. The rib-eye steak sandwich is a solid choice for $5.25, and you can even grab a fried salami sandwich for less than four bucks, which is equivalent to getting away with murder in this city.
Italian beef sandwich
Joe Boston's Italian BeefAddress and Info
The Humboldt Park spot has been slinging meaty sandwiches since opening in 1949, and you can attain one loaded with Italian beef for just $6 here. Adding peppers or cheese will cost an extra 50 cents each, but that's a small price to pay for topping Chicago's glorified sloppy sandwich. The $8.25 meal special will get you an Italian beef sandwich with fries and a drink.
1. Cafecito7 N Wells St, Chicago
2. La Bomba3221 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
3. Puesto Sandwich Stand3349 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
4. Nhu Lan Bakery2612 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
5. Bari1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago
6. Kasia's Deli2101 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
7. Ricobene's252 W 26th St, Chicago
8. Salam Restaurant4636 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago
9. Sultan's Market2057 W North Ave, Chicago
10. Lawrence's Fisheries2120 S Canal St, Chicago
11. Big Jones5347 N Clark St, Chicago
12. The Roost Carolina Kitchen1467 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago
13. Moon's Sandwich Shop16 S Western Ave, Chicago
14. Joe Boston's Italian Beef2932 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
If you’re craving a taste of Cuba, look no further than Cafecito. This coffee and sandwich shop brings a bit of authentic Latin flair to The Loop, providing fresh, affordable eats like their award-winning Cubano and the fan favorite Chivito, a protein pick-me-up of steak, ham, bacon, fried egg, mozzarella, citrus mayo, and other fixings, served hot in a pressed hero. Whether you’re grabbing grub on your lunch break or swinging through for your daily café con leche, this casual spot has your commuting cravings covered.
This Puerto Rican food cart also has a brick-and-mortar on Armitage, which you should definitely stop by so you can try the signature steak jibarito ((pronounced hee-bah-ree-to), which has two thin planks of flattened and fried green plantains in lieu of bread, which are still strong enough to hold all the grilled steak, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and melted cheese you can handle.
Offering Latin American food that is equally authentic as it is affordable, the vibrantly colored, cozy Puesto has quickly become one of Lakeview's most beloved lunch spots. Here you'll find freshly mashed guacamole, incredible arepas (in particular, the Cuban Sandwich arepa and Mango Salsa and Queso Cotija arepa are not to miss), and a slew of soft drinks ranging from the standout espresso horchata to familiar favorites like Jarrito sodas. Despite being counter service and BYOB, the ambience is entirely welcoming -- don't be surprised if the owner personally introduces himself and asks how you're enjoying your meal.
This Vietnamese bakery churns out solid bánh mì options with all the fixings that make it a welcome departure from the standard lunchtime sub. The BBQ pork sandwich with crisp cucumber spears, sweet pickled daikon, shaved carrots, jalapeños, and fresh cilantro in a crusty baguette is a stand-out special. It's not always easy to find a table in either of their tiny, storefront locations if you're dining in, but it's well worth the wait.
Bari's an Italian grocer known for delicious sandwiches like their Italian beef -- house-made giardiniera, thick-cut beef with savory gravy, and a sturdy roll that will hold up to all that hearty stuff inside. The West Loop hot spot, therefore, serves up some of the best sandwiches in the city, and the sheer variety on the menu makes it difficult to just pick one sandwich to choose from. We recommend going for the footlong prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, which perfectly combines salty and creamy flavors.
A great stop for Polish food aficionados and first-timers alike: stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, and, of course, their own signature pierogis -- they have 16 kinds, everything from a standard potato & cheese to blueberry or plum. Although Kasia's pierogis can be found in grocery stores nationwide, nothing compares to the freshness and quality one has with these fresh from the deli. In addition to pierogis, Kasia's has a great variety of sandwiches and soups.
This family-owned Italian-American counter-serve is a South Side staple for its pizza, subs, wings, and, most famously, its breaded steak sandwich. Ricobene's occupies a large food-court like space with fluorescent lighting and minimal ambience, but you're not here for the decor, you're here for the fried skirt steak covered in mounds of warm mozzarella and soaked in red sauce on a French roll. Sit and stay or take your order to go, but whatever you do, be prepared for a messy meal.
The most reliable spot on a strip of Middle Eastern restaurants, Salam does a steady business in tender chicken taouk, smoky house-made baba ghanoush, shawarma, falafel, and other standards -- accompanied by service that might best be described as slouchy but friendly.
Sultan's Market is the best on-the-go spot for falafel, babaganuj, curry basmati rice, and anything else Middle Eastern/Mediterranean. It's not too expensive, and you can BYOB. Score!
This Chinatown seafood spot is open 24/7 and their shrimp has earned them a loyal following, using a traditional, thicker-style breading that rivals just about any other resto around town.
If you’re looking for real Southern comfort in Chicago, then Big Jones in Andersonville is for you. The menu is filled with authentic Lowcountry dishes adapted from antique cookbooks, like cornbread muffins taken from an 18th-century plantation recipe and traditional Cajun gumbo. The sustainable menu changes seasonally, but no matter what, expect the signature fried chicken every night. Big Jones’ weekend brunch is also a stunner, especially if you nab a table on the back patio.
If you're craving crispy fried chicken and mouth-watering chicken sammies, head to Lakeview. Head to The Roost, a food truck with a permanent BYOB storefront on Irving Park Road, for Carolina-style recipes like crispy, spicy fried chicken on a flaky buttermilk biscuit topped with dill pickles, coleslaw, chipotle buttermilk ranch, and cheddar or blue cheese. Heat things up even more by ordering the Nashville Hot, Habanero BBQ, or Buffalo variations. Creamy mac and cheese and sweet peach cobbler round out the feast.
This small, old-school diner with warm staff behind the counter has been serving the community since 1933. They've got some award-winning grits and eggs, and definitely don't skimp on the juicy, freshly cut corned beef when it comes to their signature sammy, which is probably why they have such a devout following.