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

Quartino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
9,368 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
91% recommended
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Café Ba-Ba-Reeba

$$$$·Tapas / Small Plates·
Lincoln Park
6,435 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
96% recommended
Tapas / Small Plates in Chicago / Illinois
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SUSHI-SAN

$$$$·Japanese·
River North (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
Japanese in Chicago
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HUB 51

$$$$·American·
River North (Chicago)
4,943 reviews
  • Casual
  • Good for a Date
  • Fun
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)
1,544 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Authentic
  • Romance
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
92% recommended
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Le Colonial - Chicago

$$$$·Vietnamese·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4,973 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasions
  • Creative Cuisine
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
94% recommended
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RPM Italian

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
11,492 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasions
  • 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
93% recommended
Italian in Chicago
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Margeaux Brasserie - Waldorf Astoria

$$$$·French·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
930 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
84% recommended
French in Chicago
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il Porcellino

$$$$·Italian·
River North (Chicago)
2,210 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
94% recommended
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Shaw's Crab House - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
River North (Chicago)
11,369 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
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Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House - Chicago

$$$$·Seafood·
Gold Coast / Streeterville
4,878 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Good for Birthdays
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
92% recommended
Seafood in Chicago
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Mon Ami Gabi

$$$$·French·
Lincoln Park
5,081 reviews
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasions
  • Neighbourhood Gem
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
97% recommended
French in Chicago / Illinois
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Stella Barra Pizzeria & Wine Bar - Chicago

$$$$·Pizzeria·
Lincoln Park
1,008 reviews
  • Casual
  • Good for a Date
  • Fun
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
91% recommended
Pizzeria in Chicago
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Chicago Cut Steakhouse

$$$$·Steakhouse·
River North (Chicago)
7,281 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Waterfront
  • Scenic View
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
87% recommended
Most Booked in Chicago / Illinois
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La Luna

$$$$·Mexican·
Pilsen
84 reviews
  • Fun
  • Good for a Date
  • Happy Hour
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
92% recommended
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North Pond

$$$$·American·
Lincoln Park
3,469 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Romance
  • Good for Anniversaries
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
American in Chicago / Illinois
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RPM Steak

$$$$·Steak·
River North (Chicago)
5,120 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Good for Anniversaries
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
93% recommended
Steak in Chicago
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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
  • Good for Birthdays
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
100% recommended
Not available on OpenTable
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Naoki

$$$$·Japanese·
Lincoln Park
559 reviews
  • Special Occasions
  • Good for a Date
  • Creative Cuisine
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
97% recommended
Not available on OpenTable
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