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Must-Have Cheap Eats in Chicago

Updated on December 26, 2010

The Best Cheap Eats of Chicago

The best type of "Foodie" one could hope to be, I've discovered is a "Traveling Foodie." A Traveling Foodie is someone who travels all over the world in search of amazing foods. For those of us who don't have a job at the Travel Channel or own PJ's (Private Jets), I've created a hub to mimic the ultimate traveling for food experience!

And what better city to do this than in Chicago. Chicago is this wonderful sprawled-out multi-culture city that showcases a variety of cuisines all in one spot. It's a similar feeling to walking down New York's 5th avenue: Your head is spinning from trying to keep up with all the designers and fashion houses; Chanel, Prada, Saks Fifth, Hermes all crowded into one area! Chicago is the exact same, but with food: hand-made raviolis, Chinatown, French crepes, 26th Street (home to the multitude of taquerias) and many more!

So many cuisines and so little time!

Today, we are traveling to four very different countries to get our hands on authentic tastes without ever leaving our chairs! Hurry, our plane's about to take off!

Stop 1: Warsaw - Maxwell

Ladies and gentlemen, we've landed in Warsaw, Poland. This is not really an exaggerated statement considering the fact that Chicago boasts the highest population of Poles outside of Warsaw.

An absolute must-eat of Chicago is Original Maxwell Street Inc. Not only does this place smell like grilled onions from miles away, but it also attracts any and all nearby drunks, which can make for a very amusing evening. This is not a joke (I've never been to Maxwell without a drunkard in my presence!) The polish sausage is a mixture between a Polish Kielbasa and a hot dog. It's extremely cheap, extremely greasy, extremely delicious and best of all, every order comes with free fries.

Location: 3801 W Harrison St. Chicago, IL 60624

Price: $

What to order: Polish sausage with onions

Health: Heart-attack

Local Tip: Get the grape soda.

Stop 2. China - Joy Yee

Ok, the Chinatown doesn't have a Great Wall, but it does have a cool entrance with dragons! Explore Chinatown by sampling new sweets at the Chinese candy store and even venture into the "herb" store (watch your noses!) It's all in the same square as Joy Yee's. Joy Yee's is modern noodle place featuring dishes from Thailand, China, Korea and Vietnam. 4 countries in one is certainly a bargain.

They do have the good-ole' Chow Mein, but it's so much more fun to eat shrimp from inside a whole pineapple or eel from a bamboo pot!

Location: 2139 S. China Place Chicago, IL 60616

Price: $

What to order: Coconut Curry (It comes inside a whole coconut!)

Health: Stuffed

Local Tip: Leave room for the fresh fruit drinks. Try the avocado freeze drink!

My sorority sisters @ Joy Yee's
My sorority sisters @ Joy Yee's

Stop 3. Italy - Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.

Next-a stop is-a Italia! Chicago is THE kingdom of the deep-dish, don't tell me you didn't anticipate pizza on this list! However, (as always) we're doing things with a twist.

Welcome to Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co. This place will take your Friday pizza and Bud-Light routine to a whole new level. Branch out and say hello to the pizza pot pie. The gem, no the 'gemma' of the establishment. It is a pizza that gets flipped upside down, inside-out. It's fantastically strange and delicious. Although the wait can be over an hour, the yummy cheesy gooey-ness keeps me zen in line. Coupled with a cold, draft beer, and I can't think of a better meal!

Location: 2121 N Clark St. Chicago, IL 60614

Price: $

What to order: Pizza pot-pie

Health: Stuffed

Local Tip: Order the Mediterranean Bread for an appetizer!

4. Puerto Rico - Borinquen

Vamanos a Puerto Rico! They are such a close neighbor after all, but we hardly visit! Borinquen Restaurant in Chicago is here to close that culture gap! Now remember, this is a down-home, no-frills kinda place, so don't expect decorations and muzak.

Their famous Jibarritos are to die for. The garlic, steak, garlic and garlic make the dish absolutely yumalicious. Yes, I made up a new word just to describe the essence of these steak Jibarritos. They come with arroz con gandules on the side, which are probably the best I've ever tasted in my entire life! You really can never go wrong with cheap eats.

Till next time then, when we "travel" around to new destinations seeking out more food gems!

Location: 1720 N California Ave Chicago, IL 60647

Price: $

What to order: Steak Jibarrito

Health: Full

Local Tip: For garlic-lovers only: Try the Mofongo

Where are these food destinations?

show route and directions
A markerOriginal Maxwell -
3801 W Harrison St, Chicago, IL 60624, USA
get directions

B markerJoy Yee -
2139 S China Pl, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
get directions

C markerChicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co. -
2121 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
get directions

D markerBorinquen -
1720 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
get directions


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    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Yenajeon you made me hungry and I just finished eating! These all look like luscious eating. Thank you for a great tour of the affordable Chicago. =:)

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

      Polish Kielbasa is my absolute favorite food. Your hub has such eye and stomach appeal. Voted up, marked useful, beautiful and shared. Bonn Appetite!