As the hub of Chicago, The Loop has no shortage of places to find a bite to eat. But not all of us are stock brokers or businessmen with expense accounts, nor do we have the time to sit through coursed out menus. Most of us just need something to eat quickly, and we'd like to find a place that's good and cheap.
I've been there. For a couple years I searched valiantly to find food genuinely worth getting excited about with my meager paycheck. Plus, we've had our man, Dennis Lee, reporting from the scene every week with Lunch in the Loop. Along the way, he's been able to dig up some genuine surprises.
To make this list, I set a strict $10 limit on all the dishes, which knocked a bunch of worthy contenders off, but that's the kind of tough decision one needs to make when eating out downtown.
In fact, this list began as an even more humble project. Throughout the month, Serious Eats has been showcasing the dining options near colleges and universities around the county. We've already picked our favorites near UIC and DePaul. But the Loop also has a high concentration of higher education options, including Columbia College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt University, and National Louis University, along with offshoots of loads of other places. I quickly realized that there was some serious overlap, and that it'd be more rewarding to look for options in the whole neighborhood.
I found a lot of great stuff. Even with this many options, it's humbling to realize that there are definitely more places to check out. If you have any cheap favorites that we should check out soon, let us know!
But for now, check out our massive slideshow. Also, you can find all of the picks individually below.
- Sergio's Special at Hannah's Bretzel ($8.89)
- Mushroom Tofu Ramen at Noodles by Takashi ($9.95)
- Italian Beef at U.B. Dogs ($5.45)
- Chipotle Chicken Tamale at Frontera Fresco ($3.95)
- Buffalo Bar-rito at Protein Bar ($7.29)
- Turkey Sandwich at Potbelly ($4.60)
- Pistachio-Meyer Lemon Doughnut from Do-Rite Donuts ($2.75)
- Le Breton at Toni Patisserie & Cafe ($7.50)
- Cubano At Cafecito ($5.49)
- Single Cheeseburger at M Burger ($3.49)
- BBQ Pork Bun at Wow Bao ($1.59)
- Half-Chicken Order at Chicken Planet ($5.47)
- Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery ($4.75 For 12 Ounces)
- Falafel at I Dream of Falafel ($6.40)
- The Fries at BenjYehuda ($1.79)
- The Blockbuster at Fontano's ($5.50 for 6")
- Italian Beef at Al's #1 Italian Beef ($5.99)
- Milanesa Torta at Tortas Frontera ($8.95)
- Fried Chicken Wings Micky's Chicken and Fish ($7.95 for 3 wings/fingers)
- The Ghetto Burger at Peppers ($5.25)
- Chicago Mix at Garrett's Popcorn
- Char Dog at Gold Coast Dogs ($3.79)
- Original Shell Cream Puff at Beard Papa's ($2.00, for one)
- Turkey Sandwich at Jaffa Bakery ($5.95)
- Falafel Sandwich at Oasis Cafe ($3.99)
- Lamb Curry Wrap at Bombay Wraps ($5.99)