Half dark chicken, fries, white bread, and a bit of coleslaw for under $4. Need I say more? (Okay, here’s more: Rumor has it that there’s a Harold’s food truck. UChicago students’ waistlines just spontaneously expanded.) 1208 East 53rd Street, (773) 752-9260.
Recent development on East 53rd Street has brought chains like Five Guys and 24-hour diner Clarke’s to Hyde Park. (A Chipotle is set to open next year as well.) This burger joint has quickly become a student favorite. 1456 East 53rd Street, (773) 363-6090.
The past year has witnessed an explosion of food truck activity in Chicago, and our campus, with its constantly on-the-go student body, is a favorite spot for mobile vendors. But not every truck will live up to its eye-catching presentation, and often, it’s not even cheap. To find out what’s around from the comfort of your bed, check out @uchiNOMgo. Usually along Ellis between 57th and 59th or in front of the Regenstein.
A great Mediterranean place to take your parents when they’re in town. Its modern, spacious interior makes for a much calmer dining experience than your typical college eatery. 1206 East 53rd Street, (773) 324-6227.
Medici on 57th
Colloquially called “the Med,” this cozy BYOB joint has been a UChicago favorite for over 50 years. Stop by with a group of pals—and don’t leave without trying their Mexicana shake. 1327 East 57th Street, (773) 667-7394.
There’s not much space between its small black tables, but this Pan-Asian spot is perpetually packed with groups of all sizes. Cheap + Large Portions = a college student’s dream. Don’t forget to ask for your 10 percent discount as a UChicago student. 1333 East 57th Street, (773) 684-2801.
Bonjour Café Bakery
The owner only speaks French and the pastries are a bit pricey, but its high-quality offerings are still worth the splurge every once in a while. 1550 East 55th Street, (773) 241-5300.
Istria Café is out, Bridgeport Coffee is in. The South Side roaster—considered among the best in the city—offers standard breakfast and lunch options in addition to its signature coffee. 5030 South Cornell Avenue(On the south side of the Hyde Park Art Center)(773) 947-0348.
The best part about the Med’s adjoining bakery is its hours; open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday, you can get your pastry fix any time. Look out for $1 offerings towards closing time. 1327 East 57th Street, (773) 667-7394.
Donovan consented to let this Hyde Park staple use the name of his hit song. $1 mimosas on weekday mornings merit serious consideration before Core Bio. 1508 East 53rd Street, (773) 667-2000.
Robust Coffee Lounge
Solid coffee south of the Midway that also offers sandwiches and blended drinks. Check out their Mocha Diablo, which adds a spicy kick to a traditional mocha blend. 6300 South Woodlawn, (773) 891-4240.
The Greek-style diner serves up your favorite greasy-spoon breakfast options all day. Not feeling eggs and hash? The moussaka kicks ass. No throwing plates. 1440 East 57th Street, (773) 752-3899.
Zaleski & Horvath Marketplace (Z & H)
Z & H offers the best sandwich (sammi, as they call it) in Hyde Park, with options like “The Godfather”: La Quercia prosciutto, mozzarella, mixed greens, basil, roasted tomato, and balsamic on French bread. If the weather’s nice, head out back for the patio seating. Only drawback: the stale popcorn served on the side. 1323 East 57th Street, (773) 538-7372.
This cafeteria-style breakfast spot is cheap and low-key. It is also a favorite of President Obama and hungover students. 1518 East 53rd Street, (773) 667-0647.
Sure, Rajun Cajun doesn’t have any competitors for Indian fare in the neighborhood, making it susceptible to mediocrity. Still, it’s a pretty good option for a lazy Saturday night in. Ordering online (rajunrestaurant.com) is a breeze. 1459 East 53rd Street, (773) 955-1145.
Thai 55/The Snail/Siam
Located just steps from one another, this trio of Thai spots offers satisfying—though not necessarily spectacular—classics like Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles, and creamy curries. Students tend to disagree on which one reigns supreme, but chances are, you’ll spend enough time faring with each to decide for yourself.
Thai 55: 1607 East 55th Street
The Snail: 1649 East 55th Street
Siam: 1639 East 55th Street
WORTH THE TREK
Okay, so it’s not in Hyde Park. So you’d have to take the Metra down to the very last stop (93rd). I promise, though, that you won’t be disappointed: This tiny smoke shack delivers ah-ma-zing seafood that you can eat by the Calumet River, overlooking the remnants of Chicago’s steel industry. 3259 East 95th Street, (773) 933-9855.
The Original Pancake House
It used to be located on 51st Street, but it moved a few blocks north to a bigger space. Don’t let that stop you from heading in for the best breakfast around by a mile. 1358 East 47th Street, (773) 285-1400.
Opened by two Hyde Park entrepreneurs, Kilwin’s offers something for the sweet tooth. Try one of their truffles, chocolate covered oreos, or their “Hyde Park Mud” ice cream before catching a flick at Harper Theater. 5226 South Harper Avenue, (773) 675-6731.
Though only a few frozen yogurt flavors are offered at a time, ones like rich cake batter and refreshing ginger lemonade sorbet will keep you coming back to this small, locally owned shop. Fill your cup as high as you want—but buyer beware: You pay by the ounce, so choose your toppings wisely. 1368 East 53rd Street, (773) 855-8754.
This hip asian fusion restaurant has the swankiest interior and events like “Martini Madness Mondays” and speed dating after-hours. 1509 East 53rd Street, (773) 324-1999.
La Petite Folie
The most expensive spot on the list, but if you think your date will love being treated to fine French cuisine, this is the place. 1504 East 55th Street, (773) 493-1394.
The Sit Down
Sushi and pizza: it’s kind of an odd combo, but that’s what this charming spot offers—and does well. 1312 East 53rd Street, (773) 324-3700.