The Best Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Chicago, IL: A Local Expert's Guide

As a food lover and a Chicago native, I have had the pleasure of exploring the city's vibrant food scene. From fine dining to street food, Chicago has it all. However, dining out in the Windy City can quickly add up, leaving many budget-conscious individuals feeling left out. But fear not, as there are plenty of budget-friendly restaurants in Chicago, IL that offer delicious food without breaking the bank.

The Purple Pig

If you're a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, then The Purple Pig is a must-visit restaurant in Chicago.

Located on Michigan Avenue, this cozy spot offers a variety of small plates that are perfect for sharing. The menu features dishes inspired by Italy, Greece, and Spain, with a focus on using locally sourced ingredients. Some must-try dishes at The Purple Pig include their famous milk-braised pork shoulder, smashed potatoes with garlic aioli, and octopus with green beans and fingerling potatoes. The prices here are very reasonable, with most dishes ranging from $10-$20. Plus, the portions are generous, so you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Big Star

If you're craving some delicious Mexican street food, then head over to Big Star in Wicker Park.

This popular spot is known for its mouth-watering tacos and margaritas. The menu is simple but packed with flavor, featuring tacos filled with al pastor pork, grilled chicken, and crispy fish.In addition to their tacos, Big Star also offers other Mexican favorites such as quesadillas, tamales, and guacamole. The prices here are very reasonable, with most dishes ranging from $3-$5.And if you're on a tight budget, you can opt for their happy hour specials which include discounted tacos and drinks.


No trip to Chicago is complete without trying a classic Chicago-style hot dog, and there's no better place to get one than Portillo's. This iconic fast-food chain has been serving up delicious hot dogs, burgers, and Italian beef sandwiches since 1963. With multiple locations throughout the city, you're never too far from a Portillo's.Their famous Chicago-style hot dog is a must-try, featuring an all-beef hot dog topped with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt.

And the best part? It'll only cost you $3.50. Portillo's also offers other affordable options such as Italian beef sandwich and char-grilled burgers.

The Chicago Diner

If you're looking for some delicious vegetarian and vegan options, then look no further than The Chicago Diner. This popular restaurant has been serving up plant-based comfort food since 1983. Their menu features dishes such as vegan buffalo wings, BBQ bacon ranch burger, and mac n' cheese.The prices at The Chicago Diner are very reasonable, with most dishes ranging from $10-$15. And if you're on a tight budget, they also offer a daily special for only $10, which includes an entree, side, and dessert. Plus, their desserts are all vegan and absolutely delicious.

Pequod's Pizza

No list of restaurants in Chicago, IL would be complete without mentioning pizza.

And when it comes to budget-friendly pizza, Pequod's Pizza is a top choice. This local favorite is known for its deep-dish pizza with a caramelized crust that will leave you wanting more. Their menu features a variety of toppings to choose from, including sausage, pepperoni, and mushrooms. And if you're not in the mood for pizza, they also offer other affordable options such as chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and salads. Plus, their portions are generous, so you can easily share a pizza with a friend.

In Conclusion

Chicago is a food lover's paradise, and there's no shortage of amazing restaurants to choose from.

But if you're on a budget, don't worry, as there are plenty of options that won't break the bank. From Mediterranean cuisine to Mexican street food to classic Chicago-style hot dogs, there's something for everyone at these budget-friendly restaurants in Chicago, IL.