The Best Cheap Eats in Chicago

The Windy City has a long history of culinary excellence, and not just for the deep-dish pizza. From molecular gastronomy to barbecue, there are countless options for memorable meals all over the city—and many of them are just as affordable as they are delicious. But where are the smartest, savviest diners eating out? Welcome to our Tastemaker List. We’ve pulled data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among OpenTable's most expert, seasoned diners. You’ll find everything from neighborhood gems to rustic Italian spots, buzzy sushi bars to airy brasseries—all vetted by the types of tastemakers who know the best spots around the city. Impress your friends and family and score a table; we wish we could join you.

The OpenTable Team
Restaurants:Quartino, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, SUSHI-SAN
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:Italian, Tapas / Small Plates, Japanese
Neighborhoods:River North (Chicago), Lincoln Park, Chicago
Party Size
For 2
Date
Time
7:00 PM

Quartino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
9,524 reviews
  • Good for Groups
  • Special Occasion
  • Good for a Date

White subway tile, rustic tables and chairs, and a deli counter to display the house-made smoked meats welcome you to Quartino. This authentic Italian restaurant serves gourmet flavors on small plates...

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Best Value in Chicago
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Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

$$$$·Tapas / Small Plates·
Lincoln Park
7,448 reviews
  • Good for Groups
  • Special Occasion
  • Tapas

Traditional Spanish tapas make an entrance at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. This restaurant was one of the first to enter the Chicago scene with small plates on the menu. As the food offerings have evolved, the r...

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Most Booked in Chicago / Illinois

SUSHI-SAN

$$$$·Japanese·
Chicago
794 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Fun
  • Hot Spot

With techno beats setting up a lively and energetic atmosphere, Sushi San dining is an experience. The drinks get rave reviews; from the sake bombs to the incredible selection of Japanese whiskeys, th...

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HUB 51 and Ben Pao

$$$$·American·
River North (Chicago)
5,205 reviews
  • Great for Lunch
  • Good for Groups
  • Casual

Industrial and modern decor elements combine in Hub 51, a contemporary American restaurant in River North. On the menu, flavors take a world tour with everything from an ahi tuna poke to a tuna and Th...

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Nonnina

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
2,042 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Good for a Date

The phrase “just like Grandma used to make” takes on new meaning at upscale Italian eatery Nonnina. With a recipe that comes from family and a decor that is retro-chic, dining here is like eating with...

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Le Colonial - Chicago

$$$$·Vietnamese·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
5,948 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic
  • Fit for Foodies

Upscale, vintage elegance from the 1920s is the theme at Le Colonial, a restaurant serving a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors. While it is difficult to find truly elegant restaurants that quali...

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RPM Italian

$$$$·Italian·
Chicago
11,248 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Hot Spot
  • Fit for Foodies

The contemporary monochromatic decor in RPM Italian offers an upscale background to the star of the show — the food. A delightful menu full of Italian classics offers affordable gourmet meals that inc...

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The Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

$$$$·American·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
214 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Great for Brunch
  • Quiet Conversation

Dark leather seats, shining tile floors, and brass accents at the bar all bring to mind 1920s Paris at the Margeaux Brasserie. While a full meal at this classic French restaurant might not make the ch...

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il Porcellino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
2,807 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic
  • Good for a Date

Rustic Italian is the decor in il Porcellino, from the replica bronze pig statue by the door to the empty fiaschi bottles that line the ceiling. The menu offers some of the best cheap eats in Chicago ...

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Shaw's Crab House & Oyster Bar - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
River North (Chicago)
12,374 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Good for Groups
  • Romantic

Shaw's Crab House is actually two restaurants in one. If you want upscale dining in an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, head to the main dining room. For an unpretentious and casual experience, h...

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Seafood in Chicago / Illinois

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4,797 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Business Meals

The sea theme at Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House is on display from the moment you enter. From sailing ships and hanging fish to water-inspired art, it all says one thing—get ready for some great fish. P...

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Seafood in Chicago / Illinois

Mon Ami Gabi

$$$$·French·
Lincoln Park
5,998 reviews
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic

Enjoy classic French cuisine served in a traditional bistro at Mon Ami Gabi. This warmly welcoming eatery serves rich, time-honored flavors at an affordable price. From the escargots de Bourgogne or c...

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French in Chicago / Illinois
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Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Chicago

$$$$·Pizzeria·
Lincoln Park
1,007 reviews
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Good for Groups
  • Hot Spot

Stella Barra Pizzeria may be in Chicago, but don't expect deep dish pies here. This artisanal pizza house upgrades a basic dish into a gourmet experience. Starters include crispy calamari and pork mea...

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Chicago Cut Steakhouse

$$$$·Steakhouse·
River North (Chicago)
8,313 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Scenic View
  • Romantic

Step into a new take on an American classic when you dine at Chicago Cut Steakhouse. A dry-aging room on site lets you enjoy some of the best steaks you'll ever eat. This steak house has all of the cu...

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Steakhouse in Chicago

La Luna

$$$$·Mexican·
Pilsen
446 reviews
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Vibrant Bar Scene
  • Hot Spot

Our perspective is coming soon. In the meantime, please enjoy the restaurant’s description: Located in Chicago’s vibrant and historically significant pilsen neighborhood, la luna stays true to the com...

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Mexican in Chicago

North Pond

$$$$·American·
Lincoln Park
3,879 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Scenic View
  • Romantic

North Pond, a fine dining restaurant serving American cuisine, boasts a lovely Lincoln Park location. The arts & crafts-style dining room matches the fun and whimsical approach to food. This eatery po...

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Best Ambiance in Chicago / Illinois
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RPM Steak

$$$$·Steak·
Chicago
5,124 reviews
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic
  • Hot Spot

RPM Steak, located in one of Chicago's premier neighborhoods, River North, serves up classic steak house dishes. While the dinner menu is never called cheap, you can enjoy an affordable meal at this f...

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Blackbird

$$$$·Contemporary American·
West Loop
4,354 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasion
  • Hot Spot

Approachable fine dining is the theme at James Beard Award-winning Chef Paul Kahan's signature restaurant, Blackbird. Farm fresh ingredients and simple executions are the norm for the menu. Choose fro...

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The Publican

$$$$·American·
West Loop
5,876 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Good for Groups
  • Hot Spot

An homage to a traditional beer hall, the decor in The Publican features wooden furniture and interesting light fixtures. The 100-seater banquet table is the star of the room and offers a view of the ...

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Naoki

$$$$·Japanese·
Chicago
559 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasion
  • Romantic

Chef Naoki Nakashima opened his self-named restaurant to share Japanese flavors with a contemporary crowd. The casual decor inspires conversation, making Naoki's a sushi spot where you relax and stay ...

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