At its best, eating out is both a bonding experience and a way to make a home in Chicago. Tortas from Pilsen, grape leaves from Greektown, and banh mi from West Argyle are some of the best introductions to this vast, vibrant city.
In practice, though, restaurant meals can easily strain a student budget. While initiatives like the Saturday Night Meal Swipe Program are a welcome addition to campus—before the program, which began in 2017, students on a meal plan typically had to pay for Saturday dinner—dining out affordably remains a challenge. This is particularly true because of UChicago’s high socioeconomic stratification: Students’ disposable income varies widely.
Student Government (SG) maintains a list of Hyde Park restaurants where they’ve secured discounts for students, in partnership with the University. The list is woefully under-publicized—so make sure to bookmark it and share with friends. If you’re a student in College Housing, you might suggest house trips to a restaurant listed here, or to an affordable place elsewhere in the city.
SG’s website says they’re always seeking student input on new restaurants to add to the list. We’d encourage them to make deals more widely known (on social media, perhaps), and to ask restaurants to advertise discounts onsite.
Below are some resources for discounted meals out. Happy eating!
Student Government Local Business Discounts
B’Gabs Scratch Kitchen—10 percent discount
Healthy vegan and gluten-free foods; 1450 East 57th Street
Café 53—10 percent discount on all oven-baked sandwiches, Monday through Thursday
Sandwiches, coffee, desserts, vegan options, halal menu; 1369 East 53rd Street
Cedars Mediterranean Kitchen—10 percent discount
Middle Eastern; 1206 East 53rd Street
Dollop Coffee—10 percent discount on all prepared drinks
Coffee, pastries, sandwiches; 5500A South University Avenue
Native Foods—10 percent discount
Vegan; 1518 East Harper Court
Noodles Etc—10 percent discount
Pan-Asian; 1333 East 57th Street
Pockets Hyde Park & Kingoberry Frozen Yogurt—10 percent discount
Sandwiches, salads, pizza, frozen yogurt; 1307 East 53rd Street
Porkchop—20 percent discount
Barbecue; 1516 East Harper Court
Rajun Cajun—10 percent discount
Indian, soul; 1459 East 53rd Street
Roti Modern Mediterranean—10 percent discount
Mediterranean; 1526 East 53rd Street
The Sit Down Café & Sushi—20 percent discount
Japanese; 1312 East 53rd Street
Valois Cafeteria—10 percent discount
Diner; 1518 East 53rd Street
Chicago Restaurant Week
If you’re cash-strapped but itching to sample Chicago’s more upscale eats, Restaurant Week might be for you. From January 24 to February 9, 2020, enjoy lower-priced prix fixe—multi-course—menus at over 400 participating restaurants across Chicago. During Restaurant Week, brunch or lunch at a participating restaurant is $24; dinner is $36 or $48. This year’s participating restaurants will be announced on December 10.
In 2019, restaurants offering Restaurant Week menus included Boka in Lincoln Park, which serves inventively prepared seafood, meat, and cocktails; Portsmith in River North, a seafood eatery inspired by the East Coast; and Ukrainian Village’s Split-Rail, whose seasonally based offerings followed a Queer Eye theme for the week.
Correction on Oct. 23, 2019, 5:06 p.m. CDT:
The article was updated to include Valois Cafeteria.