It can be tough finding a quick, cheap meal in the Loop if you don't want it to come with a toy. The folks at Petra Cafr, though, have offered a solution. The South Loop restaurant is simple, straightforward and, above all, a bargain. Sitting just south of the Sears Tower, the storefront offers little in the way of decor—a few pictures, some shelves with knick-knacks and a handful of tables and chairs—but it dishes up fresh food that won't break the piggy bank. Enough said.
For a mere $3.75, you can get a hearty, healthy falafel sandwich (the staple), with meat setting you back just a few nickels more. The large salads (the Petra Salad is a good choice) cost a little more, and the entrees (most of which end with the word "delight") run $7-$9. Kebobs, shawarma, baba ghannouj—you name it, and you can buy a feast with your pocket change. Carry-out is a popular option, and delivery and catering are available as well. They even let the phone-shy order online. So if you just can't stand the idea of another burger for lunch, fear not—Petra Cafe is just a few blocks (or a few clicks) away.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Mac McCormick