"Hit or miss" would be a charitable way of describing Hyde Park's dining options. Use this guide to make your meals more of the former.
Pepe’s Mexican Food, 310 East 53rd Street » It’s the lowest common denominator of Mexican food: easy on the wallet and hard on the stomach. They’ll periodically offer specials such as five tacos for $6.50; other than that, it’s not worth the trip. (773) 752-9300
Pizza Capri,1501 East 53rd Street » One of the few restaurants in the neighborhood where you can eat out on the sidewalk, this outpost of a small Chicago chain is a popular choice for first dates. The pizza is slightly more expensive than in other Hyde Park joints, but it’s also a little less greasy and they don’t skimp on the toppings. Pasta options range from a Thai-style ginger noodle dish to the traditional spaghetti and meatballs. (773) 324-7777
Pockets, 1307 East 53rd Street » As you wander around Hyde Park, you’ll notice delivery cars flying the cute Pockets flag. Don’t get sucked in though—unless you’re ordering more than one item, the delivery charge makes the price of a meal downright exorbitant. For the uninitiated, a Pocket is a delicious whole-grain bread stuffed full of fresh veggies, cheese, and the occasional meaty ingredient. And when we say stuffed, we mean it: You can easily make two meals out of one of these babies. Check out the calzones too, but be careful: The insides are hotter than an evening with Barry White. (773) 667-1692
Potbelly Sandwiches, 5428 South Lake Park Avenue » Potbelly offers standard sandwiches and a variety of shakes, which come with a cute little cookie on the straw. Sandwiches are large and loaded with ingredients, so you may find this restaurant living up to its name. (773) 493-0129
The Pub, 1212 East 59th Street, Lower Level » If you need to call here, don’t. The Pub is great for those of us on the liquid bread diet, with over 20 beers on tap to choose from and hundreds of bottled beers. Under 21? Sorry, pal—there’s a Coke machine around the corner. The bar food is surprisingly good and amazingly cheap. Stop in on Mondays for wing night. It’s a favorite of Maroon staff, due to its proximity (about 20 wobbly steps) to the office. Cover is $1 for non-members; it’s $5 to join. Closed Sundays. (773) 702-9737
Rajun Cajun, 1459 East 53rd Street » Indian and soul food make a strange but shockingly good pair. You can grab three fried chicken pieces and two sides, with a corn muffin, for five and change. Indian entrées are on the spicy side, but the lamb curry is worth withstanding the heat. The place is a bit small and gloomy for dining in, but many of the campus coffee shops carry their box lunches, turning noon into Christmas every day. If you like your movies to match your food, ask about their fantastic Bollywood selection. (773) 955-1145
Ribs ‘n’ Bibs, 5300 South Dorchester Avenue » It’s sometimes impossible to resist the delicious odor of this smoky establishment, which carries for blocks. The larger racks of ribs are overly pricey, so students without trust funds should look elsewhere on the menu. Satisfying, inexpensive options include the Bronco Cheeseburger (less than $2). The Junior Ranch Hand is a darn fine deal, as well. Remember: Everything tastes better out of a bucket, and that goes for their chicken, too. (773) 493-0400