The Best Cheap Eats in Chicago

The OpenTable Team

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.

Restaurants:Quartino, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba, SUSHI-SAN
Price Range:$$ - $$$
Cuisines:Italian, Tapas / Small Plates, Japanese
Neighborhoods:River North (Chicago), Lincoln Park, Chicago

Quartino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
9,546 reviews
  • Group Bookings
  • Good for a Date
  • Casual
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 flaRead more
93% recommended
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Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

$$$$·Tapas / Small Plates·
Lincoln Park
6,816 reviews
  • Tapas
  • Good for a Date
  • Group Bookings
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 offeringsRead more
97% recommended

SUSHI-SAN

$$$$·Japanese·
Chicago
794 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Fun
  • Creative Cuisine
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 JRead more
93% recommended
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HUB 51 and Ben Pao

$$$$·American·
River North (Chicago)
5,025 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Casual
  • Lunch
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 pRead more
92% recommended
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Nonnina

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
1,661 reviews
  • Romance
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasions
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 hereRead more
97% recommended

Le Colonial - Chicago

$$$$·Vietnamese·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
5,232 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Romance
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 reRead more
96% recommended
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RPM Italian

$$$$·Italian·
Chicago
11,495 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Good for Anniversaries
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 goRead more
92% recommended
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Margeaux Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

$$$$·French·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
931 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Romance
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 mRead more
90% recommended
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il Porcellino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
2,323 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasions
  • Romance
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 chRead more
92% recommended

Shaw's Crab House - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
River North (Chicago)
11,627 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Good for Anniversaries
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 Read more
94% recommended
Seafood in Chicago

Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4,890 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Neighbourhood Gem
  • Good for a Date
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 foRead more
88% recommended
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Mon Ami Gabi

$$$$·French·
Lincoln Park
5,341 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Neighbourhood Gem
  • Romance
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 escargoRead more
96% recommended

Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Chicago

$$$$·Pizzeria·
Lincoln Park
1,008 reviews
  • Bar Seating
  • Fun
  • Happy Hour
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 cRead more
90% recommended
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Chicago Cut Steakhouse

$$$$·Steakhouse·
River North (Chicago)
7,753 reviews
  • Scenic View
  • Outdoor Eating
  • Special Occasions
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 houRead more
93% recommended
Steakhouse in Chicago
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La Luna

$$$$·Mexican·
Pilsen
140 reviews
  • Neighbourhood Gem
  • Vibrant Bar Scene
  • Good for a Date
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 sRead more
91% recommended
Late Night Find in Chicago / Illinois
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North Pond

$$$$·American·
Lincoln Park
3,562 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Romance
  • Scenic View
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 Read more
96% recommended
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RPM Steak

$$$$·Steak·
Chicago
5,124 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for Anniversaries
  • Good for a Date
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 afforRead more
91% recommended
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Blackbird

$$$$·Contemporary American·
West Loop
4,476 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasions
  • 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 Read more
91% recommended
Not available on OpenTable
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The Publican

$$$$·American·
West Loop
6,083 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Group Bookings
  • 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 oRead more
91% recommended
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Naoki

$$$$·Japanese·
Lincoln Park
559 reviews
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Special Occasions
  • Romance
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 whereRead more
94% recommended
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