The masses are hungry and the times are lean, said Dennis Ray Wheaton in Chicago Magazine. But these three “smart, approachable newcomers” to the Windy City offer imaginatively prepared food at modest prices.

The Publican Following in the footsteps of New York’s Mario Batali and David Chang, the Publican is all about “pork and offal and simplicity in cooking.” The décor is beer-hall chic, with a
dining area dominated by three massive communal tables. Go early “if you want to hear your companions,” and order some of the pork specialties: pork rinds, lardon-laced pork pie, pig’s foot terrine, blood sausage, and grilled country ribs. 837 W. Fulton Market, (312) 733-9555

The Bristol Patrons at this cozy Wicker Park restaurant also sit at communal tables and, like the Publican, the Bristol “butchers whole animals in-house.” Specialties include grilled prawns with anchovy butter and sausage-stuffed olives with lemon crème fraîche dipping sauce. Except for the occasional whole roasted fish, “everything hovers under $20.” 2152 N. Damen Ave., (773) 862-5555

Province This green-minded West Loop restaurant is decorated with “sustainably harvested” cork floors, cork tabletops, recycled leather-covered chairs, reclaimed wood shutters, and recycled paper menus. The organic menu includes a Spanish blue cheese fondue that’s sublimely gooey. 161 N. Jefferson St., (312) 669-9900