A February 2004 trip
to Chicago by icheapa
Quote: Good eats for cheap. This is my list of dining experiences in the diverse cuisines in Chicago. Some are small family-owned. Some may just be a hole in the wall. Some may not be your usual restaurant, but it's all good.
This list will slowly be added.
Restaurant | "Latin Sandwich Café"
This is my favorite place to pick up a hot Cuban sandwich and a nice big cup of horchata (sweeten rice drink) to go. All the sandwiches start from $3.75 to a little under $5.00. When I get a chance to sit and dine, I love the huge Chilean empanada, which is baked pastry with meat of your choice as a filling. Two of those can fill you up pretty well. I've had the Milanesa sandwich (breaded steak) served on Chilean style homemade cornbread, which added a little sweetness to the sandwich. The Puerto Rican-style Jibarito sandwich (also good), consist of breaded steak and fried green bananas. They do serve entrees besides sandwiches, but I’ve never had the chance to try any of it yet. Since I am still working through the sandwich menu.
This is a family-owned restaurant, with mom, dad, grandma and grandpa working the place. It isn’t the most beautifully decorated place but they try. The furniture is a mix of basic dining chairs to folding chairs. The tables are covered with vinyl table clothes. The wall decorations consist of one wall of mirrored faux-window frames to one wall with the American, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Chilean flags.
This place is pretty much hidden from any tourist or people who don’t live in the neighborhood. It is located around the corner from the busier street, which is Irving Park Rd. The best way to probably get here is by bus or car. There is the blue line train, just west of the restaurant, but you would need to transfer to a bus going east towards the lake.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2004
Latin Sandwich Cafe
4009 N. Elston Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60618
Restaurant | "3 R"
There are many places in Chicago that usually double themselves as a grocery store and a quick eatery hangout. Some may even house a video store way in the back of the store. So when I have a taste for Filipino food, I go to this place.
The grocery store is tiny and narrow. As you make your way toward the three aisles back to your left is a full fledge cafeteria. You can pick up a tray and choose from the many stews, fried fishes & meat skewers through the steamed glass window. You order by container size or by pieces. I usually like to get the large pre-contained order of panisit (vegetable & vermicelli mix) for just under $5. Or I like to add in a few individual pieces of lumpia rolls (spring roll) or barbecue pork on a skewer to my order.
There are tables and booths to enjoy your food right there and then, but I usually like to take it home. Many of the local Filipinos and many from the far suburbs would come into town to pre-order large trays of food for weekend brunches and parties while shopping for groceries for the week.
3 R's Oriental Food
2714 W. Montrose Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60618
This is the best place just for cold boba tea (fruit smoothie with tapioca balls). Only at the Chinatown location. They use only fresh fruits here. The menu is a massive selection of different fruits, teas, tapiocas and ice cream mixes. I like my usual mango or honeydew green tea tapioca, which cost me an exact $3. They only have one size and usually big enough to be my lunch.
This place is located in Chinatown Square (Archer Ave and Canal St). Joy Yee is actually a pan-Asian restaurant which serves food and drinks whimsically on boats, fruits and whatever cool dishes they could use. For this entry I’m not recommending eating there. The few times I've been were not good at all. I don’t believe pan-Asian restaurants (specializing in 6+ Asian countries) can make good dishes all in one house. Tight seating and crowded. Service is chaotic and he may even forget you for 2 hours. Though it’s a very, very popular place with the young, hip Asians and to the non-Asian crowd, it’s mainly due to the fun and colorful atmosphere compared to the dullness of most restaurants in Chinatown. It’s been so popular that they’ve already added three more locations in the far west and north suburbs. I’ve recently gone to the Evanston location (north of the city) to just pick up my usual drink. I was really disappointed when the fruit was a powder mix and it was actually more expensive.
As of this entry, the Chinatown location will be moving down the mall into a bigger space before the end of summer 2004.
Joy Yee's Noodle Shop
2159 S. China Place
Chicago, Illinois 60616
After a late-night outing with a group of friends, instead of a 24-hour diner, we like to head for the 24-hour Korean BBQ. It’s located north of Lincoln Square, on the corner of Western Ave. and Bryn Mawr. It’s best to go by car or taxi. I’m not sure if the bus runs that far north. There is a little parking lot out front, but street parking is also available.
Just standing in the parking lot, you can smell the BBQ already. Once inside the doors, you just need to eye the waitress and tell her the number of people in your party. Behind different cubicle-like walls are small to large parties of BBQ-goers. If you go with a party larger than six, they will seat you in the platform room. But before you go up the platform, you’ll have to take your shoes off with the million other shoes out front.
Once food for grilling and drinks are ordered, you’ll get a ton of little dishes of Korean goodies (pickled, boiled to steamed vegetables). It’s a great place to drink, eat, and be merry. A few small warnings: beware of what you wear, you'll smell like BBQ afterwards. Service is the greatest here, but what can you expect at 3am in the morning?
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 17, 2004
San Soo Gap San
5247 N. Western Avenue