Midterm after midterm can leave college students with a major problem: boring food. Life becomes a cycle of dining hall dishes and microwave meals that never satisfy hungry stomachs. This quarter, don’t let your inner foodie go into hibernation. With these restaurants, all it takes is a quick ride on the Red Line and a short walk to find yourself in culinary paradise.

1. Blowfish

Red Line

Photo by Megan Yee

Of Chicago’s many sushi spots, Blowfish is undoubtedly one
of the best (their ramen is no joke, either). Thanks to its super convenient location just a 30-second walk from the Bryn Mawr stop, it’s impossibly easy to become a regular here.

Hours: Vary by day
1131 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
‘L’ Stop: Bryn Mawr
Try the: Stuffed Salmon
Price Range: $4-13

2. Dak

Red Line

Photo by Jacqueline Tang

Knock out two cravings at once at this Korean fried chicken restaurant, where you can pair huge wings with Korean side dishes and rice bowls. Its simple, clean style makes it the perfect casual lunch spot, and it’s a mere 30 seconds from Granville station.

Juicy, monstrous wings come slathered in either a sweet, tangy sauce or a spicy sauce with just the right amount of kick. It’s fast-casual fusion at its finest, perfect for filling the Wings Over-shaped hole in your heart.

Hours: 11:30 AM – 9:30 PM
1104 W. Granville Ave
‘L’ Stop: Granville
Try the: Jumbo Chicken Wings With Dak Sauce
Price Range: $8-17

3. Ramenster

Red Line

Photo courtesy of Ramenster

This Belmont ramen joint is ideal for a cold or rainy Chicago day. Enjoy its cool, futuristic vibe while warming up with a hearty bowl of Japanese noodles, which are served quickly and packed with flavor. The menu has a variety of interesting ramen options, with ingredients ranging from sweet potato to duck.

Trying to bring along a ramen-averse friend? Ramenster also serves quality sushi, with signature maki rolls named for Chicago sports teams.

Hours: 11 AM – 10 PM
919 W Belmont St
‘L’ Stop: Belmont
Try the: Ahiru Ramen
Price Range: $10-16

4. Ronny’s Steak House

Red Line

Photo courtesy of Ronny’s

It’s by no means the fanciest place on the block, but Ronny’s Steak House gives great bang for your buck. Get a steak, salad and potato for less than $10 – a far better deal than the dining hall.

They also have a popular, all-American breakfast menu that many say is the true star of this cafeteria-style joint. If Ron Swanson were real, he would eat here, so pop in next time you find yourself starving at the Lake stop.

Hours: 7 AM – 10 PM
100 Randolph St
‘L’ Stop: Lake
Try the: Hot Wings
Price Range: $3-24

5. Bar Toma

Red Line

Photo courtesy of Bar Toma

A four-minute walk from the Chicago ‘L’ stop, Bar Toma is a casual pizzeria and bar founded by Top Chef Masters competitor Tony Mantuano. It specializes in wood-fired pizza, and while the menu is simple, a crispy crust, thin layer of sauce and complex flavors make for delicious pizza. Try Bar Toma for brunch if you’re feeling adventurous – we recommend the Italian mini doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce.

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30 AM – 10 PM; Fri-Sat 11:30 AM – 11 PM
110 E Pearson St
‘L’ Stop: Chicago
Try the: Goldcoaster Pizza
Price Range: $9-23

6. Tac Quick

Red Line

Photo courtesy of shesimmers.com

The food at Tac Quick makes it a place worth visiting, especially since it’s barely a minute off the Sheridan stop. The restaurant features a “secret” menu that packs all the flavor and spice one looks for in Thai food (there’s also a normal menu for less adventurous Thai food lovers). Don’t resign yourself to bland dining hall food – brave the great outdoors and make the quick trip to Tac Quick. Standout new menu items include the Panang curry.

Hours: Mon & Wed-Sat 11 AM – 10 PM; Sun 11 AM – 9:30 PM
3930 N Sheridan Road
‘L’ Stop: Sheridan
Try the: Duck Curry
Price Range: $8-12

7. Velvet Taco

Red Line

Photo courtesy of Velvet Taco

Chicago is seriously lacking in the late-night eats department, but Velvet Taco is the answer to your hunger woes at any hour of the day. Ever find yourself needing an Israeli couscous taco at 2 am on a Thursday? Velvet Taco’s got you covered.

The Chicago outpost of this Texan taco stronghold prides itself on taking dishes from across the globe and turning them into tacos that taste great whether you’re drunk or sober. Plus, they make their own tortillas and slow-roast their own chicken and corn in-house, so you know your food is always hot and fresh.

Hours: Vary by day
1110 N State St
‘L’ Stop: Clark/Division
Try the: Spicy Chicken Tikka Taco
Price Range: $3-5

8. Grill Inn

Red Line

Photo courtesy of Grill Inn

Grill Inn specializes in burgers, hot dogs, gyros, sandwiches and really anything else that involves a grill. Of their 10 specialty burgers, our favorite is the Mexican-inspired Orale burger. Topped with avocado, tortilla chips, salsa and pepper jack cheese, it’s perfectly cooked, bursting with flavor and just the right size.

And for vegetarians, any burger or sandwich can swapped for a flavor-packed veggie patty. A must-try for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, Grill Inn gets five stars. Good thing it’s so close – just two stops past Howard.

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30 AM – 11:45 PM
1422 W Morse Ave
‘L’ Stop: Morse
Try the: Orale Burger, Chicken Club Wrap
Price Range: $2-14

9. The Bongo Room

Red Line

Photo by Jacqueline Tang)

The Bongo Room has mastered the art of the dessert breakfast. In other words, don’t go here if you’re into small portions, “clean eats” or talking about your dietary restrictions. Do go here to satisfy your sweet tooth with cake masquerading as pancakes.

Plan to roll yourself out of the bright, upbeat restaurant and spend the rest of your day wondering if you should have ordered a custom omelette instead of eating that whole order of Oreo & praline flapjacks.

Hint: you made the right decision.

Hours: Mon-Fri 8 AM – 2:30 PM; Sat & Sun 9 AM – 2 PM
5022 N Clark St
‘L’ Stop: Argyle
Try the: Chocolate Tower French Toast
Price Range: $9-15