Grabbing a bite for lunch downtown doesn't have to be costly. In fact, if you do it right it can be downright cheap. Save your travel budget for extravagant dinners and Michigan Avenue shopping by eating at these reasonably priced (and incredibly delicious) lunch spots that cost about $10 to $12 a person.
Slurping Turtle is chef Takashi Yagihashi's funky ramen joint, but you'll find more than excellent bowls of noodles. The menu includes grilled skewers of meat and seafood, small bites like gyoza and fried Brussels sprouts, and rice bowls. The ramen menu changes regularly, but the tan tan men, a spicy bowl of thick noodles and pork meatballs, is a standard.
With seven locations in the Chicago area, you're never too far from an Epic Burger. The restaurant uses humanely raised meats and offers several non-beef burgers. Whether you opt for the class beef burger with cheddar cheese and a fried egg or the Portobello sandwich, make it a combo and add thin fries and a milkshake, which you can choose to have made with frozen yogurt and skim milk.
The little sister to Rick Bayless' restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Xoco serves tortas and caldos-Mexican sandwiches and soups. There's a special daily torta, like Thursday's guajillo braised short ribs with grilled cactus salad, avocado, and black beans, along with big bowls of spicy broth that overflow with meat and vegetables, like pork carnitas with potato-masa dumplings and greens. Just make sure you leave room for dessert-Xoco is renowned for its crunchy, sugary churros, which you can get glazed or with a side of chocolate sauce.
Located beneath Mercat a la Planxa is a tiny Spanish street food-inspired restaurant where nothing costs more than $6.50. The menu includes empanadas, like La Gaudi Empanada, stuffed with eggs, roasted bell peppers, green onions, and manchego, and sausage sandwiches. If you're taking it easy, order a $5 cocktail or sangria and ask about special desserts, like freeze pops.
Pastoral doesn't just offer cheeses, charcuterie, wine, beer, and other specialty food products-though it has all that-but you can also pick up excellent sandwiches. Meat options include the Sandwich Campagne with country pate, Gruyere, whole grain mustard, and cornichons and the Mediterranean Turkey with roasted local turkey, basil-fennel pesto, white bean puree, red onion, and oven-roasted tomatoes. You can also get salads and vegetarian sandwiches like the Cali Chevre with goat cheese, house-made almond butter, avocado, shaved celery and onion.
Saigon Sisters puts elegant spins on classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches by filling crackly baguettes with caramelized chicken and lemongrass or teriyaki tofu. If you're not in the mood for a sandwich, the menu also features soft bao buns, steaming bowls of pho, and green papaya salad.
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