For those looking for the quintessential Chicago pizza experience, a visit to Lou Malnati’s is absolutely necessary. Lou Malnati’s, which first opened in 1971 and has locations all over Chicago and its adjacent suburbs, has been a deep-dish pizza staple for decades. Their deep-dish Chicago Classic pizza includes gooey mozzarella cheese, thick Italian sausage, and a layer of chunky tomatoes, all resting atop a soft, flaky bed of Lou Malnati’s famous butter crust. A personal-pan size of this pizza, which makes for a very filling dinner for one, comes in at $8.15.
If you’re planning to be in Lakeview or Northcenter on a Wednesday evening, Rocks is the place to be. Rocks offers not only indoor and outdoor seating, Chicago sports on multiple TVs, and a large beer, whiskey, and cocktail selection but also an expansive menu featuring a variety of specialty burgers. If you like big, juicy burger patties covered in toppings like chipotle barbecue sauce, roasted red pepper aioli, deep fried pickles, or homemade onion rings, you will love Rocks. The Wednesday night half-price burger special will leave a patron spending only $6, and that includes a side of fries.
When searching for the perfect Chicago dog, you should look no further than Portillo’s. With a variety of locations throughout the Chicago area, Portillo’s Wild West and ’50s diner-themed restaurants create a fun dining atmosphere for all involved. For those craving a classic Chicago dog, Portillo’s jumbo hot dog includes mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, and a pickle. Combine that with a chocolate cake shake – a chocolate milkshake blended with chunks of Portillo’s famous chocolate cake – and you get a delicious Chicago meal for just $7.05.
Giordano’s is a Chicago pizza staple, Giordano’s has been here since 1974, specializing in stuffed pizza, an alternative to deep-dish. Giordano’s stuffs their cheese and toppings in between two layers of dough, then adds a layer of tomatoes to the top of the pizza. If you’re looking for an affordable, well balanced lunch, Giordano’s weekday lunch special offers a personal-pan stuffed pizza, sides including soup or salad, and a beverage. Every combo is guaranteed to be under $10.
Taco & Burrito House
For a filling Mexican meal that you can eat out at a restaurant or at home, Taco & Burrito House, which has multiple locations throughout Chicago’s North Side, is the place to go. A king-sized fajita burrito, which includes chicken or steak, grilled peppers and onions, cheese, and sour cream, is big enough for two people to share and costs only $6.40 It leaves you room to add both rice and avocado and remain well under the $10 limit.
It’s not hard to find good barbecue food in Chicago, but it always seems difficult to find inexpensive barbecue. Luckily, Wrigley BBQ’s pulled pork sandwich, which includes a side of coleslaw and a pickle, is here to save the day with its price of only $7.95, leaving room to add a soda and stay under $10. In addition, their two-meat combo meals, which include two sides and are big enough for sharing, come in at $16.95, meaning that you and a friend could spend under $10 each for a delicious barbecue dinner.
Cheesie’s Pub & Grub
If you like grilled cheese sandwiches, colorful walls decorated with cheese-themed cartoons, drawing on tables with chalk, TVs playing Chicago sports, and alcohol, then Cheesie’s Pub & Grub is going to be your second home. Cheesie’s Caprese sandwich, which features mozzarella cheese, tomato, and basil on sourdough and pesto mayo dipping sauce, comes in at $6.99, meaning that you can add their delicious seasoned fries and a soda for a $9.99 combo meal. Cheesie’s also features a special Sandwich of the Month for $9.99, leaving frequent customers always wanting more.
Cozy Noodles & Rice
Cozy Noodles & Rice finds the perfect balance of affordable, quality Thai food and a quirky, friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Cozy’s Evanston location features a variety of vintage trinkets, including old lunch box, Pez dispenser, and bobblehead collections along its walls. In addition, Cozy’s Lakeview location adds a special Chicago touch with the Cubs and Bears memorabilia on display. A pad thai entree will cost you less than $9. Add a cup of hot tea to your meal at either location, and you’re still looking at a full meal for less than $10 in a unique, memorable environment.
Al’s Italian Beef
When discussing the key foods that shape Chicago’s culture, you can never leave out Italian beef sandwiches. Al’s Italian Beef, with more than 10 locations throughout Chicago, offers of the best Midwestern beef sandwiches you’ll ever get your hands on. The Big Beef, which is the largest sandwich available, will cost you $8.75. You also have the choice of getting your sandwich dry, meaning there’s just a little beef gravy on it; wet, meaning they’ll add enough gravy to moisten your sandwich; or dipped, which will turn your sandwich into a delicious gravy sponge.
Walker Bros. Pancake House
If you’re willing to venture into Chicago’s nearby northern suburbs, you are in for the best breakfast of your life. Beyond its mention in the movie Mean Girls, the Walker Bros. Pancake House is famous for its old-fashioned decor, its welcoming family environment, and, of course, the pancakes it has been serving the folks of the Chicagoland suburbs since 1960. A bacon and basted eggs breakfast, which comes with a side of three buttermilk pancakes, costs only $8.50. Plus, since the pancakes are so large, you’ll probably have leftovers!