Food & Drink

The Best Cheap Sandwiches in Chicago for $6 or Less

Published On 09/23/2016 Published On 09/23/2016
RICOBENE'S
COURTESY OF RICOBENE'S

Six bucks won't get you much in a highfalutin city, but in Chicago it's enough to snag these seriously delicious sandwiches -- several of which have coincidentally secured spots on our sandwiches to eat before you die and best international sandwiches lists. Substantial bánh mì, meaty deli subs, iconic Italian beef handhelds, and Southern-inspired eats for less than a pint of beer in this town? It doesn't get much better than multiple meats in your belly and cash in your back pocket.

COURTESY OF CAFECITO

Cubano

Cafecito

Address 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.

Steak jibarito

La Bomba

Address and Info

Logan Square

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."

COURTESY OF PUESTO SANDWICH STAND

Shredded pork arepa

Puesto Sandwich Stand

Address and Info

Lakeview

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

Bari

Address 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.

NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

BBQ pork bánh mì

Nhu Lan Bakery

Address 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 Deli

Address and Info

Ukrainian Village

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.

COURTESY OF RICOBENE'S

Meatball sandwich

Ricobene's

Address and Info

Bridgeport

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.

NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

Chicken tikka kabob sandwich

Salam Restaurant

Address 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.

COURTESY OF SHADI RAMLI

Falafel sandwich

Sultan's Market

Address 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.

Fish sandwich

Lawrence's Fisheries

Address and Info

Chinatown

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.

PAUL FEHRIBACH

Pimiento cheese sandwich

Big Jones

Address and Info

Andersonville

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.

NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

Nashville hot chicken sandwich

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

Address 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 Shop

Address and Info

Near Westside

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.

Flickr/Mike Gebert

Italian beef sandwich

Joe Boston's Italian Beef

Address and Info

Humboldt Park

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.

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Nicole Bruce is a contributing writer for Thrillist and a budget-conscious sandwich shopper. Find her on Twitter at @nicoleabruce.
 

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Cafecito 7 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60602 (Loop)

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.

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2. La Bomba 3221 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Logan Square)

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.

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3. Puesto Sandwich Stand 3349 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

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.

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4. Nhu Lan Bakery 2612 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Lincoln Square)

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.

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5. Bari 1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Loop)

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.

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6. Kasia's Deli 2101 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Ukrainian Village)

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.

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7. Ricobene's 252 W 26th St, Chicago, IL 60616 (South Chicago)

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.

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8. Salam Restaurant 4636 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60625 (Albany Park)

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.

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9. Sultan's Market 2057 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 (Wicker Park)

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!

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10. Lawrence's Fisheries 2120 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60616 (Chinatown)

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.

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11. Big Jones 5347 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640 (Andersonville)

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.

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12. The Roost Carolina Kitchen 1467 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60613 (Lakeview)

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.

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13. Moon's Sandwich Shop 16 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60612

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.

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14. Joe Boston's Italian Beef 2932 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Humboldt Park)

This Humboldt Park sandwich slinger has been one of the best spots in the city for meaty sammies since they opened way back in 1949.

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