As a college student, I have to be super mindful of where I go out to eat. I'm constantly saying that I'm ballin' on a budget — between rent, utilities, groceries, pet expenses, and whatever else may come up, I have a very limited amount of extra (read: fun) money.

Our girl Giada de Laurentiis gets that when we have the time to go on a little weekend get away, we still gotta stay on budget. Luckily for us, Giada has a wide range of go-to restaurants in Chicago — some of which are affordable for us broke college kids.

Thanks to the help of Giada's own personal website and Food Network's Giada's Weekend Getaways, here is Giada's weekend foodie guide to the Windy City.

Pizzeria Uno

pizza, pepperoni, crust, mozzarella, sauce
Rachel Linder

Like a true college student, Giada knows that pizza is number one. Although Uno's is known for being a pizzeria, they have a humongous menu ranging from pizza to burgers to seafood to pasta. Holy yum.

Although Uno's online menu doesn't include pricing on dine-in meals, they do include takeout prices. Their Big Party Takeout meal includes three deep dish pizzas and 32 wings for $70. That's pretty dang affordable for all that food, if you ask me. I'd assume that the rest of their dishes are reasonably priced as well.

Garrett Popcorn

Garrett Popcorn isn't exactly a restaurant, but it's a food stop nonetheless. If you haven't experienced the melt-in-your-mouth joy that is Garrett Popcorn, you need to get your hands on some. 

Flavors range from Plain to Cashew CaramelCrisp to my personal favorite, the Garrett Mix (caramel corn mixed with the best cheddar popcorn you've ever had in your life), so there's something for everyone. 

You can pick up a gallon of this deliciousness for $37 at any Chicago location or you can order it online. 


avec is a Mediterranean/Southwestern European-inspired restaurant, so it's no surprise that this is one of Giada's favorites. This restaurant has separate lunch and dinner menus, and both have a variety of affordable options for us broke college kids.

For lunch, you could order the amazing avec burger that is pictured above. It's a chorizo and beef burger with bacon, date mostarda (a fruit and mustard combination), and piquillo pepper aioli, reasonably priced at $14. 

For $4 more, you could order wild sockeye salmon with french green beans, plums, dill, and walnut aillade — a thick sauce made from garlic puree.

This is a restaurant that I'm eager to try next time I'm in Chicago because I love trying new things and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. avec's menu has a lot of obscure, gourmet foods — aillade and mostarda, for example. Those are the things that I love to try the most because how often do you actually get the opportunity to, ya know?

Signature Lounge at the 96th

Chicago's Hancock Building is home to the Signature Lounge at the 96th, as well as the Signature Room at the 96th, which is the Lounge's more pricey counterpart.

Since we're still in college and not living the dream just yet, we gotta stick to the Lounge. Don't be fooled, though — the Lounge has just as many delicious and affordable options.

For $20, you can have the most huge, delicious, gourmet nachos you've ever had in your life and the breathtaking view of downtown Chicago from 96 floors up. The duck nachos include duck meat, jalapenos, tomatoes, red onion, green onion, Marcoot tipsy cheddar cream sauce, pesto, tortilla chips. Worth every single MF-ing penny. 

So there ya have it, my broke friends. Giada may be a world-renowned chef, but she's looking out for us, too.