Slideshow: 19 Cheap Eats We Love in Bridgeport

Steak and Ale Pie at Pleasant House Bakery ($7.95)
Steak and Ale Pie at Pleasant House Bakery ($7.95)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"While it's easy to get distracted by all the British dishes Pleasant House Bakery does so well, it's important to remember that the restaurant was founded on the strength and deliciousness of these pies. All the Royal Pies feature a flaky and crispy crust, along with a distinct filling. I have a hard time turning down the Steak and Ale Pie ($7.95), though the Mushroom and Kale Pie ($7.95) might be better. But I'll need to try both again to double check." Read more here >>

Pleasant House Bakery, 964 West 31st Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-523-PIES; pleasanthousebakery.com

Falafel Wrap at Zaytune Mediterranean Grill ($5.45)
Falafel Wrap at Zaytune Mediterranean Grill ($5.45)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Who would have guessed that one of the best places to score falafel outside of the far southwest side was in Bridgeport? Sure, Zaytune's fries those falafel balls to order, and then serves them with a range of fresh and crunchy salads. But what really sets this place apart is the housemade flatbread. If you look to the left of cashier, you'll notice a machine that rolls out balls of dough until very thin. Each sheet is grilled until warm and soft, making for an exceptional carrying case for all the great fillings.

Zaytune Mediterranean Grill, 3129 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-254-6300; zaytunegrill.com

Hot Dog at 35th Streeet Red Hots
Hot Dog at 35th Streeet Red Hots

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"I don't need much in my life, just a 100% all-beef natural casing Vienna Beef hot dog with freshly fried French fries. It's Chicago's hallmark and one of the top reasons I love this city. But far too few stands take the time to do the basics correctly from scratch. That is what makes 35th Street Red Hots, a relatively charmless stand on crumbling parking lot, one of my favorite hot dog stands in the city." Read more here >>

35th Street Red Hots, 500 W 35th Street, Chicago IL 60609 (map)

The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)
The Badass B.L.T. at Mr. Spanky's ($3.50)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The soft bun also allows you to focus more of your attention on the house-made bacon, which is thick-cut and smoky. It's more than capable of carrying the sandwich, but the other ingredients hold their own. Instead of watery pieces of lettuce, baby spinach is layered on. A sun-dried tomato aioli takes the place of the usual mealy tomato. The result is sandwich of contrasts: salty and sweet, soft and crunchy, meaty and vegetable-y (that's a word, right?)." Read more here >>

Mr Spanky's, 335 West 31st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616 (map); 312-450-3069; mrspankys.com‎

Cheeseburger at Hamburger Heaven Express ($4.60)
Cheeseburger at Hamburger Heaven Express ($4.60)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Not only does this Bridgeport stand shun the frozen pucks, the patty comes out with a gorgeous blackened crust—clear evidence of a hot griddle. I almost cried with joy when I unwrapped the cheeseburger ($4.60). Look at it! I legitimately thought I had found paradise." Read more here >>

Hamburger Heaven Express, 3001 South Archer Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-801-0012

House Special Pot Stickers at Potsticker House ($5.95 for 6)
House Special Pot Stickers at Potsticker House ($5.95 for 6)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

There are other great dishes to be tried here, but no visit is complete without an order of the house special pot stickers. If these look a bit familiar, that's because they are very similar to the kind of potstickers you'll find at Lao Beijing. Instead of short and plump, these are long, thin, and crackly. Sure, they gleam as if lacquered in gallons of oil, but each is surprisingly greaseless.

Potsticker House, 3139 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-326-6898; potstickerhouse.com

Hot Dog at Morrie O'Malley's ($2.69)
Hot Dog at Morrie O'Malley's ($2.69)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The hot dog ($2.69) showcases the generosity of Morrie O'Malley's perfectly. The dog comes loaded with all the toppings you'd expect on a fully-loaded Chicago dog, plus a big hunk of cucumber. Though I'm convinced this ruins the symmetrical beauty of the dish (I have a grand theory about this), the cucumber actually blends rather nicely into the whole, adding a cooling crunch to each bite. Of course, it helps that the natural casing Vienna Beef dog is extra beefy and plump. Add in a steamed poppy seed bun, and you have one knockout hot dog." Read more here >>

Morrie O'Malley's Hot Dogs‎, 3501 South Union Avenue, Chicago, IL 60609 (map); 773-247-2700; morrieomalleys35.com

Grilled Steak Taco at Carbón ($2.95)
Grilled Steak Taco at Carbón ($2.95)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The workers mercifully leave the steak in large slices, instead of manhandling them into size of petite peas. Luckily, they are also tender, so you don't have to gnaw through tough fibers just to take a bite. Save the aroma of real charcoal, this has just about everything you could want from a steak taco." Read more here >>

Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill, 300 West 26th Street, Chicago, IL 60616 (map); 312-225-3200; carbonmex.com‎

Prime Butt at Schaller's Pump ($9.95)
Prime Butt at Schaller's Pump ($9.95)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

p>"Though located on the sandwich side of the menu, it's not so much a steak sandwich as a slab of steak on a piece of toast. Cut from the sirloin, prime butt isn't the most tender slab of beef, so you'll need to slice it against the grain with a steak knife—not very sandwich-like, if you ask me. As for the toast, by the time you're done slicing, it disintegrates under the weight of the beef. But if it's not a sandwich, why is it served with lettuce, tomato, and pickle on the side? So many questions.

"It may be hard to call this thing a sandwich, but if you're in the mood for a big slab of beef for under $10, all served in one of Chicago's most distinctive restaurants with one of the friendliest waitstaffs I've ever encountered, Schaller's Pump is your place. Read more here >>

Schaller's Pump, 3714 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60609 (map); 773-376-6332

Corn Fritters at Zebra's Gourmet Hot Dogs ($1.75 for 3)
Corn Fritters at Zebra's Gourmet Hot Dogs ($1.75 for 3)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Zebra's is a different kind of hot dog stand. Instead of using Vienna Beef or even Red Hot Chicago, this stand serves skinless dogs from Nathan's Famous on enormous, bready rolls, which are frustratingly tough to chew through. While the hand-cut fries are good, they are no match for the wonders you'll find further down the street at 35th Street Red Hots. Instead, the real find here are the corn fritters. Dunked in the fryer only after you order them, they have a crispy crust, with an interior actually fragrant of corn. A final sprinkle of powdered sugar helps finish off this satisfying snack.

Zebra's Gourmet Hot Dogs, 744 West 35th Street, Chicago, IL 60616 (map); 773-940-1526

Breaded Steak Sandwich with Fried Cheese at Johnny O's ($6.39)
Breaded Steak Sandwich with Fried Cheese at Johnny O's ($6.39)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Though the breaded steak component isn't as well executed as the one at Ricobene's, Johnny O's version is still worth checking out. Just make sure you ask for fried cheese on top. The cook takes a handful of shredded mozzarella and tosses it on the griddle, where it cooks down to a sheet of fried cheese. It's then added on top of the sandwich, adding a bit of ridiculousness to an already over-the-top sandwich. Read more here >>

Johnny O's, 3465 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-927-1011

Crispy Chickpea Fries at Nana Organic ($6.00)
Crispy Chickpea Fries at Nana Organic ($6.00)

[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

"The fries are impressive structures; I can't quite figure them out. They have a crunchy shell with a creamy, almost polenta-like interior. It's hard to picture how something so velvety can go into a fryer and not simply evaporate or dissolve." Read more here >>

Nana Organic, 3267 South Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-929-2486; nanaorganic.com

Paczki at Bridgeport Bakery ($.75)
Paczki at Bridgeport Bakery ($.75)

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

"Being that this is a Polish/Lithuanian bakery, the ones to seek out are the Paczki ("poonch-key," phonetically). There are always around four types on offer, though on the eve of Fat Tuesday next week, the staff will arrive at midnight to crank out varieties in upwards of the teens. This one pictured is Raspberry-Filled, though there are equally tasty rich chocolate iced Boston Creams and lily-white Custard-Filled Powdered Sugars." Read more here >>

Bridgeport Bakery, 2907 S Archer Avenue Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-523-1121

Pour-Over Coffee at Bridgeport Coffee Company ($3.00)
Pour-Over Coffee at Bridgeport Coffee Company ($3.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Bridgeport is also a surprisingly great place to drink. I'll get to Maria's in a second, but let's start with coffee. While Bridgeport Coffee Company serves some sandwiches, the real reason to visit is for the house-roasted coffee. While a cup of the regular drip is balanced and bold, go with the pour-ove to get a real sense of the roast. Like all versions, it takes time to make, but it results in a cup nearly devoid of bitterness, making this place one of my favorite places to drink coffee in the whole city.

Bridgeport Coffeehouse, 3101 South Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-247-9950; bridgeportcoffeecompany.com‎

A Bubbly Creek at Maria's Packaged Goods + Community Bar ($8)
A Bubbly Creek at Maria's Packaged Goods + Community Bar ($8)

[Photograph: Michell Eloy]

"This Bridgeport dive pays tribute to the Union Stockyards with a concoction inspired by its grimy drainage canals. (Hence the brownish-green color.) The 100-proof bonded Old Grand Dad bourbon comes through strong, making this a drink for slow sipping. A blood orange bitters rinse and Gosling's Ginger Beer add a balancing tartness." Read more here >>

Maria's Packaged Goods + Community Bar: 960 W. 31st Street, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 773-890-0588; community-bar.com