Slideshow: 22 Cheap Eats We Love in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood

Kai Tod at Rainbow Cuisine ($6.95)
Kai Tod at Rainbow Cuisine ($6.95)

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

"If you can imagine a plate of fried chicken juicier and flavorful than the birds on offer at Crisp, you're halfway to picturing the Kai Tod ($6.95) at Rainbow Cuisine. The contrast between the crackly, rendered skin and the improbably moist meat of the whole legs and halved thigh portions reaches broaster-levels, while the white peppercorn, garlic, and cilantro-based marinade lends the dish an intense herbal-ness. The included fish sauce and dried chili based dipping sauce is excellent, but follow my lead and complement it with a side of sticky rice and sweet chili sauce. Get to work eating everything with your fingers, and thank me later." Read more here >>

Carne Asada Taco at Taqueria El Asadero ($2.20)
Carne Asada Taco at Taqueria El Asadero ($2.20)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The carne asada ($2.20) at Taqueria el Asadero is cut thinner than most versions around town, which is a definite plus in my book...The thin shards here are nicely caramelized and tender—a tough sweet spot to find." Read more here >>

Meatloaf Sandwich Dream at Glenn's Diner ($9.99)
Meatloaf Sandwich Dream at Glenn's Diner ($9.99)

[Photograph: Josh Coy]

"Despite the threat/promise of needing a small entourage of napkins required to eat this, the sandwich shows up looking like it's about to drive you to prom. Tidy, clean-cut, with nary a dribble of beefy, fatty goodness on its collar. It even wears a corsage of lettuce and tomatoes. But this is meatloaf, and it's all about the meat. This loaf is moist and tender, and gets nicely crusted up on both sides. It is hearty without being too heavy, with onions and peppers shining through." Read more here >>

The Country Bird at Pecking Order ($9.00)
The Country Bird at Pecking Order ($9.00)

[Photograph: Josh Coy]

"Ripe with thoughtful flavors and loved up with Filipino spices, the Country Bird ($9) starts with 'our birds don't do drugs' boneless, flour-dusted crunchy fried chicken, which is cut into thin, crispy pieces. It is then adorned with smoky, shaved Gouda and fresh Roma tomatoes. A few sprigs of cilantro add what lettuce never really does, another layer of flavor. Read more here >>

Large Pizza Slice at Jimmy's Pizza Café ($3.50 with a topping)
Large Pizza Slice at Jimmy's Pizza Café ($3.50 with a topping)

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

"The list of places that put out good New York slices in Chicago is a short one, but it recently got a little longer when Jimmy Kang opened Jimmy's Pizza Café in Lincoln Square. The large slices ($3.50 with a topping or $3 without) get briefly reheated in a tabletop Bakers Pride oven. The crisp and chewy crust is just limp enough to demand diners fold their slice if they want to eat with one hand. More importantly, it's a good piece of bread that's perked up with some salt." Read more here >>

Liverbest Sandwich at Gene's Sausage Shop ($5.00)
Liverbest Sandwich at Gene's Sausage Shop ($5.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Narrow pretzel rolls are cut crosswise and stuffed with a few ingredients—a meat and/or a cheese—topped with maybe a pickle, and then wrapped up in plastic to go. The liverbest sandwich might not be the best joke, but there is no denying the thick slab of creamy liverwurst at its center. Some thinly sliced pickles help add some acid, but I suggest slathering on one of the many fine mustards on the table. Then it transforms into a truly great sandwich, and you don't even need to be sitting on a rooftop drinking Pilsner to understand that." Read more here >>

Tacos Ensenada at Mixteco ($7.00, for two)
Tacos Ensenada at Mixteco ($7.00, for two)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"As the only tacos on Mixteco's dinner menu, the Tacos Ensenada could have been tacked on to appease picky eaters, but instead these two incredibly light fish tacos showcase the same level of care and craft that Mixteco puts in all of its other dishes." Read more here >>

Chubby Dog at Chubby Wieners ($4.99)
Chubby Dog at Chubby Wieners ($4.99)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The Famous Chubby Dog features an extra thick hot dog, which one could accurately describe as chubby. Luckily, that plump sausage comes from Vienna Beef and sports a snappy natural casing. I'm rarely after a quarter pound hot dog (I usually prefer the minimalist ones), but I can see this hitting the spot now and then." Read more here >>

Croque Madame at Troquet ($10.00)
Croque Madame at Troquet ($10.00)

[Photograph: Dennis Lee]

"Nothing beats a ham and cheese sandwich. Well, nothing except, say, a ham and cheese sandwich with a swipe of dijon mustard hidden inside. Oh, but what about that sandwich covered in fluffy, silky béchamel sauce, more cheese, and then topped with a fried egg? Then, holy baby wow, you've got a Croque Madame from Troquet." Read more here >>

Chicken Wings at Budacki's ($5.00)
Chicken Wings at Budacki's ($5.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Why these wings aren't emblazoned on the side of the shack in huge letters is beyond me, but hopefully I can accurately describe them. The sauce is an honest-to-goodness combination of traditional buffalo sauce and fiery sambal. The two don't sound like they would play well together, but they feed off each other's heat, one-upping the levels until they hit your lip. The sambal hits first with a blast of vinegar and ringing spice, which is slightly mellowed by the relatively milder heat of the buffalo sauce. The sauce makes just about everything else it touches better." Read more here >>

Grafton Burger at The Grafton ($8.95)
Grafton Burger at The Grafton ($8.95)

[Photograph: Daniel Zemans]

"The grilled, loosely packed, approximately half-pound patties are surprisingly well seasoned for a pub burger... The first burger I tried came from the 'build your own' option and was topped with blue cheese and grilled onions, a combination that remains my favorite. The blue cheese was very generously piled on, compensating for the lower fat content of the sirloin. The quantity of beef and relative mildness of the blue cheese ensured that the beef remained the star. The grilled onions added a nice sweet onion flavor that balanced out the tanginess of the cheese." Read more here >>

Fried Wide Rice Noodles with Chicken and Eggs at Rosded
Fried Wide Rice Noodles with Chicken and Eggs at Rosded

[Photograph: Leela Punyaratabandhu]

"Now, this is the kind of thing I order when I eat out—something I know for a fact would be hard to make at home without a powerful professional gas range. A good kuai-tiao khua kai must come with well-charred wide rice noodles and the 'wok scent.' Rosded delivers just those things." Read more here >>

Nhu Lan Special at Nhu Lan ($3.50)
Nhu Lan Special at Nhu Lan ($3.50)

[Photograph: Joy Roy]

"The best bánh mìs are all about contrasts, and this one is right on point. The warm baguette is the perfect foil to the chilled ham, headcheese, pâté, and pork rolls that make up the meat of the sandwich. The pickled carrots and daikon are enlivened by the fresh cilantro. The cool cucumber and spicy jalapeño cut the rich, creamy pâté. But the best part of this sandwich? The insane amount of black pepper that sneaks in right at the end of every bite. It gets me every time." Read more here >>

Naem Khao Thawt at Spoon Thai
Naem Khao Thawt at Spoon Thai

[Photograph: Leela Punyaratabandhu]

"There are just so many textures and flavors going on here, yet everything jives together so well. You can eat this as a salad—something to nosh along with a glass of cold beer. Or you can eat it as an entrée—a one-dish meal, as we Thais call it. Curried rice croquettes are deep-fried until crispy on the outside and crumbled up into small pieces. The rice then gets mixed with small pieces of naem, fresh ginger slivers, roasted peanuts, some herbs, and a lime-fish sauce dressing." Read more here >>

Curry Chips at Red Lion ($5.95)
Curry Chips at Red Lion ($5.95)

[Photograph: Josh Conley]

"Some things I just can't really understand how they have not become wildly popular here. Chimichurri is one. Another would have to be curry chips. Big, fat chips, fried crispy, with a liberal sprinkling of salt and served up with a side of mild curry sauce. Such a simple idea, expertly executed. THIS is the curry I expected at a British place, bursting with garlic, ginger, yogurt, and mild curry powder." Read more here >>

Sticky Toffee Pudding at Fork ($7.00)
Sticky Toffee Pudding at Fork ($7.00)

[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

"Puréed Medjool dates and heaps of toffee sauce contribute to making this cake sticky and ultra-moist. The whole thing is topped with an unusual porter ice cream that really tastes like porter and also complements the toasted, caramelized flavors in the pudding... The recipe was developed by one of Fork's co-owners, Paula Byers, when she made it for friends and family over the holidays, and Chef Cottini was kind enough to walk me through the recipe." Read more here >>

Limoncello and Bailey's Gelato at Paciugo
Limoncello and Bailey's Gelato at Paciugo

[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

"From the cheery bright yellow color to the lemonade-sweet flavor, the Limoncello gelato at Paciugo was made for summer. The liqueur provides an appealing layer of lemon flavor and contributes to the overall emphasis on sweetness rather than acidity. The Bailey's gelato has a slightly more prominent hit of liqueur that is supported by a pronounced vanilla flavor and just a touch of coffee." Read more here >>