Avoiding a Chicago taxi to save money means a lot of walking, and a lot of walking means you need fuel. Luckily, fueling up in the Windy City doesn’t require you to blow your college student budget. If you’re only there for 48 hours and don’t have the time or money to hit up all 24 must-visit Chicago restaurants, here’s how to indulge in most of the city’s staples for just over $50.
You smell the warm, sweet and salty scent of Garrett’s popcorn before you see it. With 13 Chicago locations, Garrett’s popcorn makes the perfect welcoming snack. A small Garrett’s mix is enough to graze on for the rest of the trip, too.
Leaving Chicago without reveling in the buttery bliss that is the city’s famed deep dish pizza is a major culinary sin. Places like Gino’s take their time to make sure your deep dish is baked to perfection. Unlike the immediacy of New York pizzerias, each deep dish pizza takes 45-60 minutes to rise to its glory. Take this time to slow down and enjoy the cityscapes before your life changes forever.
Price: $27.60 for a small, $13.80 if you’re splitting it with a pal
3. Crave Bar
If you successfully nibble your way through the entire deep dish pizza, consider yourself worthy of a sweet reward. Walk over to Millennium Park and look for the Crave Bar food truck. Crave Bars can be found at dozens of locations throughout Illinois, but feasting your eyes on the beauty of the park while feasting your taste buds on a chocolate-covered ice cream block on a caramel pretzel stick is definitely the way to go.
4. Shake Shack
Okay, Shake Shack isn’t exactly a Chicago staple. But unlike pizza, the all-natural Angus beef cheeseburger is definitely something New Yorkers and Chicagoans agree upon. After walking the Magnificent Mile, a classic Shack Burger with a side of fries is the perfect, economically sound way to refuel.
5. Rainbow Cone
Stroll Navy Pier and ride its new and improved Centennial Ferris wheel with a creamy conglomerate of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer house (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio, and orange sherbet in hand. This Chicago specialty mirrors the diverse flavors of the city itself.
Price: $4.03 for a small cone
This Windy City classic is dangerously good. After feeding your knowledge at the Shedd Aquarium and Chicago Field Museum, feed your stomach with a visit to nearby Kim and Carlo’s Chicago-style hot dog stand. These bad boys can be found everywhere, but the Museum Campus offers the ideal back drop to transcend the mortal world into hot dog heaven.
There you have it, city-dwellers: two days worth of Chicago eats that will surly fill your stomach, without emptying your wallet.
Total price: $56.10
Author’s note: I did not forget about breakfast. Try to find a hotel that serves complimentary breakfast to save time, money, and of course, room in your stomach.