Cheap(er) Eats For Those on A College Student’s Budget in Chicago

I’m pleased to introduce Nicole Adams. She currently works with Westwood College and enjoys designing, writing and of course eating.  She is Alicia Tastes Life first guest blogger! 

Cheap(er) Eats For Those on A College Student’s Budget

–on behalf of Nicole Adams of Westwood College

Chicago is a big city with a diverse population. As immigrants from all over the world have arrived at the Windy City, they’ve brought their various culinary traditions with them. Chicago college students and residents, therefore, have a lot of opportunities when it comes to affordable ethnic dining.  It’s nice to actually take advantage of the idea of “a little goes a long way”.  Perhaps, you can spend your remaining budget on a special night out at Blackbird, or a nice slow food establishment.  In the meantime, the question remains, where can I find the best food in town for the best price?  I have chosen an array of cuisines and neighborhoods.  Here are just a few spots you shouldn’t miss if you’re looking for a hip, cost efficient place to dine.

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If your palette longs for red pasta sauce or grilled calamari, consider Lucia’s on North Avenue. Lucia and Dominick, the friendly owners of this long-established Italian Restaurant, have managed to keep this gem a neighborhood go-to. The options are endless.  When it comes to take out, they are very fast and efficient.  This Italian eatery has it’s own deli; so don’t hesitate to order a fresh made sandwich or custom salad (most under $10).  If you do decide to cozy up and eat in the dining room, be sure to note the BYOB option and no corking fee.  I would recommend pairing your own wine from home with the Artichoke Ravioli.

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Sultan’s Market is another idea of a generously priced, yet tasty, place to throw down some George Washington’s.  For only $2, you can order the Baked Spinach Pie or Grandma Zarifa’s Lentil Soup.  Of course, Hummus and Curry Basmati Rice are also great items on this Mediterranean inspired menu, but one of the biggest perks is having small and large portion options.  The ingredients are flavorful and taste is authentic.  Sultan’s Market has been in Wicker Park for years, and they have recently added a new location in Lincoln Park.

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Saving the “latest for last”, it’s not easy to fight the craving for fast late night tacos. Wicker Park’s standing tradition of a 2AM Flash Taco had to make it to this post.  As the previous statement implies, it’s obvious that this is where you would most likely spend the latter part of your evening.  Flash Taco originated when two Mexican immigrants began selling delicious tacos in Humboldt Park from an ice chest.  Flash built on this idea and tradition that his ambitious parents started and Flash Taco has become the perfect place to get filling, satisfying food.  Most items are under $6, and the Steak Burrito or Chili Relleno tacos are the way to go.  Don’t forget to order a horchata to sip on while you wait.

Hopefully these suggestions will meet any time crunch and budget on your next cheap eat outing. Another suggestion, that I’ve recently found useful for finding deals on good food, is the Scout Mob app.  You can download to any Smartphone and is available and free to Chicago subscribers.  The site most recently featured 50% off Lalibela Ethiopian restaurant in Edgewater.  If you need your olive tapenade fix, there’s a 50% off deal for Atomix Coffee in the Ukrainian Village.  The deals change, but the app is nice to have as a reference when trying to meet the right match, on any occasion, for your taste buds.

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