Food & Drink

The Best Cheap Sandwiches in Chicago for $6 or Less

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.

CAFECITO
COURTESY OF CAFECITO

Cubano

Cafecito

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

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."

PUESTO SANDWICH STAND
COURTESY OF PUESTO SANDWICH STAND

Shredded pork arepa

Puesto Sandwich Stand

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

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.

Nhu Lan Bakery
NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

BBQ pork bánh mì

Nhu Lan Bakery

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

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.

RICOBENE'S
COURTESY OF RICOBENE'S

Meatball sandwich

Ricobene's

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.

Salam Restaurant
NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

Chicken tikka kabob sandwich

Salam Restaurant

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 Market
COURTESY OF SHADI RAMLI

Falafel sandwich

Sultan's Market

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

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.

Big Jones
PAUL FEHRIBACH

Pimiento cheese sandwich

Big Jones

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.

The Roost Carolina Kitchen
NICOLE BRUCE/THRILLIST

Nashville hot chicken sandwich

The Roost Carolina Kitchen

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

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.

Italian beef sandwich

Joe Boston's Italian Beef

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.