10 Under $10: Cheap Eats in Skokie
Sometimes we all need to indulge in a cheap treat, and our fair town has bargains to spare.
This week, Dinner & A Movie takes a break from reviewing Skokie restaurants to bring you a roundup of where to find the cheapest eats in town. These restaurants were selected for quality, value when it comes to price and for their relationship to Skokie.
These colossal sandwiches have been putting Skokie residents in food comas since 2003. It's said that working through the offerings here is a two-man job--half a sandwich is often more than enough for all but the hungriest eater. The place functions as a deli, and has a variety of eats under $10, such as fried chicken and matzo ball soup.
Cheap Eat: The roast beef sandwich. At $9.95, it barely qualifies for 10 under $10 status. The reason it does qualify is because it barely fits inside a person.
Sparky's feels like a throwback to simpler times in almost every possible way. This small diner is staffed by lifetime waitresses and grill cooks, and thankfully for Skokie, the prices have barely changed along with the times. This is American food in it's simplest possible form.
Cheap Eat: The egg and sausage breakfast sandwich with hash browns for about$5.
Sweety Pies is the popular bakery in downtown Skokie. This modern bakery eschews the old European style and goes for contemporary treats like cake balls and turtle brownies. The staff is friendly and has a quick turnaround when it comes to custom cakes.
Cheap Eat: The sweet dessert treat, Red Velvet chocolate covered cake balls. At a steep $2.50 apiece, you have more than one reason to beat yourself up for indulging in the impossibly moist goodness (there's no way these things are good for you!). But the golf ball sized sensations are too delicious to care about price or health for too long.
Despite the decor, no one is going to be fooled that he has stepped into a tropical paradise in the middle of Skokie. Malibu Pizza does its best to evoke the feel of summertime with a setup that recalls a beachfront shack. The place isn't above putting the words "Cheeseburger in Paradise" on the menu, but customers come for the pizza.
Cheap Eat: The personal 8-inch pizza for $6.99, and you spend $1 more for each additional topping. Add pineapples, green peppers and onion to get your own personal slice of Hawaii.
Anchoring one end of Macy's department store at the Old Orchard Mall is this suburban outpost for superstar chef Rick Bayless. The Chicago resident and famous owner of the equally famous Topolobampo, Bayless brings his upscale, sophisticated Mexico-inspired eats to the North Shore in a generously accessible way.
Cheap Eat: The mushroom trio quesadilla. The trio: garlic infused shiitake, button and cremini mushrooms. Mushrooms, garlic and queso fresco way combine to form perfection at $8.
It's unfair to call Ubaa and Old Crawford Inn anything less than a Skokie institution. The bar has been around since before prohibition, and the family-owned joint is a comfortable place to drink away an afternoon or evening. Bar food is what's on the menu, and it's said that Ubaa grills one of the best burgers in Skokie.
Cheap Eat: The 10-ounce "colossal burger" served on dark rye with bleu cheese and onions, alongside a serving on thick cut cottage fries--all for $7.25.
The owner of Village Creamery is a modern renegade. Once part of the Baskin Robbins franchise, the owner broke away when he decided to create his own flavors. Foodies are glad he did: his Filipino-inspired tastes range from purple yam to queso to coconut mango and more.
Cheap Eat: It's expensive for a few scoops of ice cream in a cone, but the Ube, more simply purple yam, ice cream is an incomparable treat at $5.
Skokie's diverse population means diverse menus, and Pita Inn is a great example of that. A regional favorite, every conversation about Mediterranean food somehow comes back to Pita Inn. It should, though: Pita Inn has delicious food that is more than affordable.
Cheap Eat: No single sandwich on the menu, from the shwarma to the lamb to the falafel, is more than $5. If you're feeling indulgent, you can pair your pita with a large hummus, and at $3.25 you're still well under $10.
Skokie is lucky enough to have a few Greek restaurateurs. It's a matter of perennial debate among Skokie residents as to whether Grecian Kitchen or Dengeo's has the best Greek chicken. Luckily for all, the dishes are cheap, hearty and delicious at both places, meaning it's hard to go wrong.
Cheap Eat: Half a Grecian chicken, served with bread and cole slaw, and choice of two slides--from rice to French fries to string beans to corn on the cob--only $6.45.
Operating for nearly 40 years, Herm's is no doubt responsible for the harden arteries of a few local residents. This burger and hot dog joint, which is much more, is comfy, friendly and welcoming to large groups. It is also accommodating to anyone who just wants to get his junk food on and play coin-op, stand up arcade games for a few hours.
Cheap Eat: It's easy to eat like a (big fat) King on the cheap at Herm's. To scrape right up against that $10 limit, order an Italian beef for $4.55, fries for $1.50 and six chicken wings for $3.85.