Cheap eats in Ukrainian Village
This “last stand” serves Fatsos (burgers) and Welch’s grape juice (?) until 4am on weekends, in a room where the main decor element is hundreds of the stand’s business cards glued to a wall. Though this place is only a few years old, it has the soul of a classic, and anything that goes in a fryer—crispy-on-the-outside French fries, sweet shrimp coated with crunchy panko-like breading—comes out damn near perfect.
Kasia's Deli has been serving up Polish delicacies in Ukrainian Village since 1982, when Kazimiera Bober began selling her soups, potato pancakes and pierogi alongside deli salads and sandwiches. You'll find the same extremely affordable dishes (usually no more than $5) available for purchase at the tiny shop today, alongside a small selection of groceries. The lines at lunch can snake throughout the shop, so grab a number, put in your order and prepare yourself for a hearty Polish meal.
Authentaco took over one of La Pasadita’s three Wicker Park locations (don’t worry, two are still directly across the street), and while it was slightly sad to see a former institution replaced, Authentaco is trying much, much harder. Take the roasted sweet potato al pastor (a weekly special), which features guajillo-marinated sweet potatoes and caramelized onions, served on wonderfully thin corn tortillas made to order, and topped with some seriously spicy tomatillo salsa. It's cash only, but a $10 bill will get you a couple tacos and some guac.
Former fine-dining pastry chef Paula Haney made a name for her pies at farmers’ markets and coffee shops. Now she sells seasonal creations (from strawberry-rhubarb in spring to apple and pumpkin in fall) and signatures (like her incomparable banana-cream), along with Metropolis coffee, at her tiny, retro pie shop. The pies are, in a word, extraordinary, and a slice with a cup of joe will only set you back $6.
Known for its blaring rap music, free branded condoms and anti-Chick-fil-A attitude, Leghorn makes a statement the moment you step in the door. Luckily, the food it serves is solid—choose a breast or thigh, then decide whether you want it pickle-brined or Nashville hot, on a biscuit or a bun. Sandwiches will run you $7 and a side is just $2–$5 more.
After peddling her gelato all over town to the city's best chefs and markets, Jessica Oloroso found a fitting home for her first storefront in Ukrainian Village. There, she lures folks with boundary-pushing scoops of gelato such as avocado-cinnamon and sesame-fig-chocolate chip. You're free to have a few samples before deciding which flavor to put in a cone or a cup.
Run by the folks behind the nearby Roots Handmade Pizza, this punk-y bakery/diner/cake-making showroom offers dishes like short rib Benedict and loaded baked potato pancakes. Prices fall in line with the laid-back diner vibe—you won't break the bank with a quick brunch or lunch at this neighborhood favorite. You can even throw back a $4 PBR tall boy (or something a little fancier) while you enjoy your meal.
It's easy to get confused by this taco joint. First of all, there are two locations on the same block (both offer the same quality). Second of all, the tacos are extremely simple—some meat, some chopped onion, some cilantro, and that's it. So what's all the fuss about? Somehow—whether it's about the juicy, tender meats or the soft tortillas or the piquant crunch of the onion—these tacos turn out to be the best in the neighborhood, and among the best in the city. At just a few bucks a pop, they're also a tremendous value.