Slideshow: 12 Great Dishes Under $10 in West Town, Chicago

Italian Sub at Bari ($4.95 for 9-inch)
Italian Sub at Bari ($4.95 for 9-inch)

[Photograph: Roger Kamholz]

When most people consider Bari, freshly made Italian subs are the first thing that comes to mind. There is a good reason for that, as Roger explained:

"For these modest prices you're getting quality meats, cheese, housemade giardiniera (mild or hot) and an arm's length of fresh pane. I always elect for a hit of hot giardiniera to go along with the capicolla, Genoa salami, mortadella and provolone cheese that grace the Italian. It's fun to play the dangerous, escalating game of eating more sandwich to calm the heat of the previous bite. You're doomed, but in a delicious way." Read more here >>

Bari, 1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (map); 312-666-0730

Italian Beef at Bari ($6.00 for 9-inch)
Italian Beef at Bari ($6.00 for 9-inch)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

While the Italian sub is incredible, don't forget that Bari also serves one of the best Italian beefs in town:

"Bari...manages to pair exceptionally tender and juicy slices of beef with a full-flavored gravy. Of course, it helps that everything is housed in a structurally sound roll, which is softer than the standard one used for most of the Italian beefs in Chicago, but still strong enough to avoid premature collapse from all the wet ingredients. Honestly, this is the only one to give Al's #1 and Johnnie's a run for top Italian beef in Chicago." Read more here >>

Bari, 1120 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (map); 312-666-0730

Char Dog with Fries at Phil's Last Stand ($4.00)
Char Dog with Fries at Phil's Last Stand ($4.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Phil's Last Stand is another local joint that excels in two different dishes. First up is the hot dog, which came in 5th in our list of the best hot dogs in Chicago.

"Though Gold Coast Dogs is the most famous practitioner of the char dog (which is grilled instead of steamed), Phil's Last Stand is currently the reigning champion in the city of this style. While grilling a hot dog sounds easy enough, it actually requires far more skill than you'd imagine. The hot dogs need to be cooked carefully or they'll split and spill all of their lovely juices into the fire. Phil's cooks their's just long enough to get a little smoke from the fire, while maintaining the integrity of the dog. Plus, it's topped carefully and served in one of the friendliest rooms in town." Read more here >>

Phil's Last Stand, 2258 W Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-245-3287

Slice of Pie and a Cup of Joe at Hoosier Mama Pie Co. ($6)
Slice of Pie and a Cup of Joe at Hoosier Mama Pie Co. ($6)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

If you've never been to Hoosier Mama Pie before, it's hard to know which pie to start with. I'd suggest the flawless Hoosier Sugar Cream, which is better than any similar pie I ever ate while growing up in Indiana. But really, there is no bad choice, as a group of us learned once when we tried every single pie in the shop. And for the price of a slice, you also get a good cup of coffee. Not bad.

Hoosier Mama Pie Co., 1618 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 312-243-4846

Polish Sausage Sandwich at Podhalanka ($4.25)
Polish Sausage Sandwich at Podhalanka ($4.25)

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

"If you've only ever had a Polish sausage on a bun, the most common way it's prepared, you owe yourself a taste of this sandwich preparation, split and stuffed between two slices of sturdy bread, which soften as they soak up the drippings from the sausage. To round it out, Podhalanka adds onions that are just barely beginning to caramelize, which somehow are wonderfully sweet while still maintaining an important crunch." Read more here >>

Podhalanka, 1549 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60642 (map); 773-486-6655

Mozzarella Sticks at Root's Handmade Pizza ($9)
Mozzarella Sticks at Root's Handmade Pizza ($9)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Most restaurant mozzarella sticks are an afterthought: frozen, rubbery, and with the shape and flavor of Lincoln Logs. Their purpose is to soak up beer after a long night of drinking. This isn't the approach they take with the mozzarella sticks at Root's Handmade Pizza. Everything from the mozzarella to the marinara to the garlic-herbed breadcrumbs is made from scratch, in house. If Root's pizza wasn't so good, I would consider making a dinner out of these beauties alone. On second thought, maybe I will anyway." Read more here >>

Root's Handmade Pizza, 1924 W Chicago Avenue Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-645-4949

Sea Salt and Caramel Gelato at Black Dog Gelato ($4.75)
Sea Salt and Caramel Gelato at Black Dog Gelato ($4.75)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Honestly, we haven't encountered a single flavor of gelato here that wasn't incredible. But the sea salt and caramel gelato is so good we talked owner Jessie Oloroso into giving us a behind the scenes tour of how it is made.

Black Dog Gelato, 859 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-235-3116

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

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

It used to be that La Pasadita had the steak taco market cornered in the area, but simply not the case any more. Carbón's steak is juicier and more flavorful, making it the essential pick in the neighborhood. Here are some other thoughts from a previous review:

"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 >>

Carbón, 810 N Marshfield Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 312-225-3200

Steak Jibarito at Cafe Central ($6.50)
Steak Jibarito at Cafe Central ($6.50)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Though I never thought I'd say this about the sandwich, Cafe Central's jibarito is downright reasonable. Instead piling the plantains with a mound of meat, just a few thin slices of steak are used. The toppings are paired back as well, making for a sandwich that stays structurally sound right to the last bite." Read more here >>

Cafe Central‎, 1437 W Chicago Ave # 1, Chicago, IL 60642 (map); 312-243-6776