Gallery: Cheap Eats We Love in Humboldt Park

Milanesa Cemita at Cemitas Puebla ($6.50)
Milanesa Cemita at Cemitas Puebla ($6.50)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Though it looks stuffed and overloaded, everything—from the crackly sesame crusted bread to the robust and smoky house made chipotle peppers—is crucially important. Loads of sandwiches have cheese on them, but few feature tangy and creamy queso Oaxaca (which the owner claims to import straight from Mexico). As for the crispy fried pork cutlet, it's meaty enough to stand out, but thin enough to not get in the way." Read more here >>

Cemitas Puebla, 3619 W North Ave, Chicago, IL (map); 773-772-8435

Sweet Potato Tacos at Bullhead Cantina ($3)
Sweet Potato Tacos at Bullhead Cantina ($3)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The grilled sweet potato tacos feature slices of the charred vegetable loaded onto a house-made corn tortilla and topped with cabbage, grilled red onion, corn, and an avocado salsa. Sweet, spicy, and crunchy, there's enough different flavors going on to keep things exciting, but not too many to distract from the sweet potatoes. If you've ever suffered through an uninspired vegetable taco at a joint around town, then this is the antidote." Read more here >>

Bullhead Cantina, ‎1143 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-772-8895

Tofu Sweet Potato Hash at the Flying Saucer ($8.95)
Tofu Sweet Potato Hash at the Flying Saucer ($8.95)

Photograph: Lindsey Howald Patton

"In the tofu sweet potato hash (you can add two eggs for an additional $2.75), the usual hash proportions of fillings and potato have been inverted, making it more of a sautéed Tuscan kale salad. In a world populated with plenty of piles of greasy potatoes, this stands out." Read more here >>

Flying Saucer, 1123 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL (map); 773-342-9076

Hot Dog and Fries at Jimmy's Red Hot ($2.27)
Hot Dog and Fries at Jimmy's Red Hot ($2.27)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The natural casing dogs are steamed, set in a plain steamed bun, slathered with mustard and relish, and sprinkled with chopped onions and sport peppers. Like Redhot Ranch and Gene & Jude's, each hot dog comes with fries, but these are bigger and fatter than either. They are not nearly as crispy, but if you prefer the pillowy and softer style, these are for you." Read more here >>

Jimmy's Red Hots, 4000 W Grand Avenue, Chicago IL 60651 (map); 773-384-9513

Chicken Jibarito at Papa's Cache Sabroso‎ ($5.75)
Chicken Jibarito at Papa's Cache Sabroso‎ ($5.75)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The moment you walk in Papa's Cache Sabroso‎, you'll see a wall of slowly roasting chicken, all turning in unison, basting in the juices of the communal cooking process. Which is to say that you'd be a fool to eat here and not order one of those birds. The succulent chicken pieces prove to be an inspired filling choice for the jibarito, adding a smoky backbone to each bite." Read more here >>

Papa's Cache Sabroso‎, 2517 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-862-8313

Pozole Rojo at Pozoleria San Juan ($7.75, medium)
Pozole Rojo at Pozoleria San Juan ($7.75, medium)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"This is not a picture of pure hellfire ladled into a bowl. In fact, it's not even particularly spicy. This is a bowl of pozole rojo from Pozoleria San Juan, and it's one of the better examples of the Mexican soup that I've been able to find. Though it looks menacing, the guajillo chile-laced broth won't knock you over with heat, though it will slowly build up until you have a wonderful glow. Still, the best part might be the toppings, which arrive on a large plate for you to add as you'd like. Thinly sliced cabbage and radish add crunch, avocado cools things out, and the chicharróns help amp up the meatiness. Believe it or not, this is actually the medium. I imagine the grande ($8.25) bowl could feed a family of four." Read more here >>

Pozoleria San Juan, 1523 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60651 (map); 773-276-5825

Escolar Pearls at Kai Zan ($8.00)
Escolar Pearls at Kai Zan ($8.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Though you'll probably want to spring for the $50 omakase, there are a surprising number of under $10 dishes on the menu. Of course, none of them will completely fill you up, but the quality is exceedingly high. I was a huge fan of the escolar pearls, four little bites of super white tuna that have been lightly seared and then topped with soy sauce, truffle oil, spicy mayo, and chili oil. Though my picture doesn't quite do them justice, they are also genuinely beautiful.

Kai Zan, 2557 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-278-5771

Jibarito at Coco ($9.50)
Jibarito at Coco ($9.50)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Featuring spirals of fried dough and what may be a green canopy, Coco's jibarito looks like Frank Gehry trying to design a Salvador Dali painting. Though the structures surrounding the sandwich are needless and overwrought, they can be easily discarded to make way for the main event: a flawless jibarito topped with colorful salsa. The owner explained that a new chef had just arrived, and based on what he's doing to the plantains I hope he sticks around. They are crispy on the outside, but still creamy and fragrant on the inside. The fresh salsa is also an inspired addition." Read more here >>

Coco Restaurant, 2723 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-384-4811

Lechon Sandwich at La Bomba Place in Humboldt Park ($4.00)
Lechon Sandwich at La Bomba Place in Humboldt Park ($4.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"One of my favorites is La Bomba Place on the west side of the park, where I can pick up a meaty lechon sandwich plus a huge side of rice. Once I have my order, I like to walk up the small hill by the truck, stretch out on the grass, and take in one of the best views in all of Chicago." Read more here >>

La Bomba Place, Luis Munoz Marin Dr and W Hirsch Dr, Chicago , IL (map); 773-394-0106

BBQ Chicken Sandwich at Feed ($6.49)
BBQ Chicken Sandwich at Feed ($6.49)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Instead of being cooked into a pile of mush and then pulled apart without care, the chicken has character and is left in sizable hunks. And thanks to the slow roasting process, those pieces are juicy and ever-so-slightly fatty. It could carry the sandwich all by itself, but the barbecue sauce manages to add tang and spice, without covering things up with too much sugar. I'm unsure if the vinegary coleslaw is supposed to go on top, but I went ahead and dumped it all on. I'm so glad it did. It's just the cooling crunch that this already excellent sandwich needed." Read more here >>

Feed, 2803 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL (map); 773-489-4600

Taco de Pollo at La Encantada ($2)
Taco de Pollo at La Encantada ($2)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The taco de pollo is juicy in a way chicken tacos so rarely are. Instead of tough little griddled hunks of chicken breast, the chicken is braised in a concentrated tomato- and chile-laced liquid. The result is chicken that is tender but not dry--a tough balance to strike. Also, though the tortillas aren't made in house, they are fresh, light, and perfect for the job." Read more here >>

La Encantada, 3437 W North Ave, Chicago, IL (map); 773-489-5026

Morning Sandwich at Grandma J's Local Kitchen ($9)
Morning Sandwich at Grandma J's Local Kitchen ($9)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"The Morning Sandwich ($9.00) at Grandma J's Local Kitchen in Humboldt Park solves the problem of a boring breakfast sandwich by using another foolproof ingredient that miraculously enhances everything it touches—bacon. The two slices of very thickly cut bacon add a much needed meaty crunch to this enormous sandwich. Of course, it helps that the eggs are also soft, supple, and still creamy on the inside. Add to that cooked spinach, a fried tomato, and some melted white cheddar to tie everything together, and you have a solid sandwich to start the day." Read more here >>

Grandma J's Local Kitchen, 1552 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL (map); 773-227-3626

Gobi Manchurian from Rangoli ($9)
Gobi Manchurian from Rangoli ($9)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"I know it's kind of hard to believe, but the little hunks of fried goodness pictured above are vegetables—not chicken, pork, or any other kind of meat. Not that you'll care much. Though the Gobi Manchurian ($9) at Rangoli in Humboldt Park is completely vegetarian, it's one greedy appetizer.” Read more here >>

Rangoli, 2421 W North Ave, Chicago, IL (

Italian Beef from Joe Boston's ($5.50)
Italian Beef from Joe Boston's ($5.50)
Bistec Sandwich from Diana's Restaurant
Bistec Sandwich from Diana's Restaurant

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

"Most of the sandwiches they serve are pretty delectable, but my favorite is the bistec sandwich. It arrives warm on a pressed roll and features a generous portion of sliced steak, which is beautifully beefy, moist, and tender. The fear I have with most steak sandwiches is that you end up fighting with the meat, but not in this case. The bread, too, was great—warm and crunchy, and I didn't end up with any damage to the roof of my mouth." Read more here >>

Diana's Restaurant, 1000 N Francisco Ave, Chicago, IL (map); 773-235-9218

Al Pastor Taco at Birria Huentitan Restaurant ($1.90)
Al Pastor Taco at Birria Huentitan Restaurant ($1.90)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Birria Huentitan serves one great taco. And, as you can imagine, it's all about the al pastor. The pork is sliced off in large hunks and mostly left that way, so that the pieces are both crisp and juicy. As some have noted, the marinade is on the mild side, which does hold this taco back from being the transcendent experience I dearly want it to be. Still, I'd much rather have my al pastor on the mild side and also have it this well prepared. I will be back." Read more here >>

Birria Huentitan, 4019 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639 (map); 773-276-0768