Whether it’s Saturday night or you’re just sick of the dining halls—and believe me, you will be—you’ll be searching for a meal outside of campus. Here’s a list that’ll get you started:
1208 East 53rd Street
Half dark chicken, fries, white bread, and a bit of coleslaw for under $4. Need I say more?
1456 East 53rd Street
Recent development on 53rd street has brought chains like Five Guys and 24-hour diner Clarke’s to Hyde Park. (A Chipotle is set to open next year as well.) This burger joint has quickly become a student favorite. Free peanuts!
Usually along Ellis between 57th and 59th or in front of the Regenstein.
The past year has witnessed an explosion of food truck activity in Chicago, and our campus, with its constantly on-the-go student body, is a favorite spot for mobile vendors. But a word of caution: not every truck will live up to its eye-catching presentation, and usually, it’s not even cheap.
1206 East 53rd Street
A great Mediterranean place to take your parents when they’re in town. Its modern, spacious interior makes for a much calmer dining experience than your typical college eatery.
Medici on 57th
1327 East 57th Street
Colloquially called “the Med,” this cozy BYOB joint has been a U of C favorite for over 50 years. Stop by with a group of pals—and don’t leave without trying their Mexicana shake.
1333 East 57th Street
There’s not much space between its small black tables, but this Pan-Asian spot is perpetually packed with groups of all sizes. Cheap + Large Portions = a college student’s dream. Don’t forget to ask for your 10% discount as a U of C student.
Bonjour Café Bakery
1550 East 55th Street
The owner only speaks French and the pastries are a bit pricey, but its high-quality offerings are still worth the splurge every once in a while.
5030 South Cornell Avenue
(On the south side of the Hyde Park Art Center)
One word: gelato. Oh, and the coffee’s not half bad either.
1327 East 57th Street
The best part about the Med’s adjoining bakery is its hours; open until 11p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday, you can get your pastry fix any time. Look out for $1 offerings towards closing time.
1508 East 53rd Street
Donovan consented to let this Hyde Park staple use the name of his hit song. $1 mimosas on weekday mornings merit serious consideration before Core Bio.
Robust Coffee Lounge
6300 South Woodlawn
Solid coffee south of the Midway.
1440 East 57th Street
The Greek-style diner serves up your favorite greasy spoon breakfast options all day. Not feeling eggs and hash? The moussaka kicks ass. No throwing plates.
1518 East 53rd Street
This cafeteria-style breakfast spot is cheap and low-key. It is also a favorite of President Obama and hungover students.
Zaleski & Horvath Marketplace (Z & H)
1323 East 57th Street
Z & H offers the best sandwich (sammi, as they call it) in Hyde Park, with options like “The Godfather”: La Quercia prosciutto, mozzarella, mixed greens, basil, roasted tomato, and balsamic on French bread. If the weather’s nice, head out back for the patio seating. Only drawback: the stale popcorn served on the side.
1459 East 53rd Street
Sure, Rajun Cajun doesn’t have any competitors for Indian fare in the neighborhood, making it susceptible to mediocrity. Still, it’s a pretty good option for a lazy Saturday night in. Ordering online (rajunrestaurant.com) is a breeze.
Thai 55/The Snail/Siam
1607 East 55th Street
1649 East 55th Street
1639 East 55th Street
Located just steps from one another, this trio of Thai spots offers satisfying—though not necessarily spectacular—classics like Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles, and creamy curries. Students tend to disagree on which one reigns supreme, but chances are, you’ll spend enough time faring with each to decide for yourself.
WORTH THE TREK
3259 East 95th Street
Okay, so it’s not in Hyde Park. So you’d have to take the Metra down to the very last stop (93rd). I promise, though, that you won’t be disappointed: This tiny smoke shack delivers ah-ma-zing seafood that you can eat by the Calumet River, overlooking the remnants of Chicago’s steel industry.
The Original Pancake House
1358 East 47th Street
It used to be located on 51st Street, but it recently moved a few blocks north to a bigger space. But don’t let that stop you from heading in for the best breakfast around by a mile.
1509 East 53rd Street
This hip fusion restaurant has the swankiest interior and events like “Martini Madness Mondays” and speed dating after-hours.
La Petite Folie
1504 East 55th Street
The most expensive spot on the list, but if you think your date will love being treated to fine French cuisine, this is the place.
The Sit Down
1312 East 53rd Street
Sushi and Pizza: it’s kind of an odd combo, but that’s what this charming spot offers—and does well.