The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Chicago Eats – Penny’s Noodle Shop

When we lived in Chicago, Penny’s was our equivalent of the local neighborhood diner.   You know the place – it’s close, they know you there, it’s super cheap, and it has a wide variety of menu items so you’ll never get bored of it.   The bonus was that, back in the day, Penny’s was BYOB!  How cool would it be to head to your local diner and enjoy the food with your very favorite beer or wine?

But, as the name indicates, they don’t have burgers.  Instead they have a variety of different Asian noodles, soups, appetizers, and rice dishes.  Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese are all represented on the menu in some way or another.  They don’t go particularly deep into each cuisine, but what they do have is solidly prepared.   And oh so cheap.

When we were last in Chicago, we were looking for a quick lunch before we hit the road.  Several of the trendier places we wanted to try had hour-long waits and we just wanted to get back home.  Penny’s was the perfect choice for a quick, high-quality, no-fuss lunch.   The original Penny’s is in Wrigleyville, but we went to the one in Bucktown.


Wonton Soup – BBQ pork , Chinese greens, green onions, shrimp and
 pork dumplings.


Ramen - Imported Japanese wheat noodles topped with shitake mushrooms,
bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and green onions in a miso soup.

Ramen – Japanese wheat noodles with shitake mushrooms,
bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and green onions in miso.


Pad Thai Thin rice noodles stir fried in our Pad Thai Sauce with egg, bean sprouts, green
onions and ground peanuts then garnished with fresh bean sprouts, red cabbage
and cilantro. Choice of chicken, beef or tofu.

Chicken Pad Thai


Thai Ravioli - Homemade shrimp & pork dumplings served with BBQ pork, lettuce, green on- ions, cilantro and ground peanuts.

Thai Ravioli – Homemade shrimp & pork dumplings served with BBQ pork, lettuce, green onions, cilantro and ground peanuts.


As expected in Chicago in late February, it was cold and blustery. (Although I think that applied to most of the country this year.) The soups were perfect for that type of weather.  In warmer months, the salads and lighter noodle dishes are the way to go.

What also suited us perfectly were the prices.  After a long weekend of eating out for every meal, the low prices were welcomed.  I’ve often griped about how Ann Arbor’s restaurants are over-priced compared to Chicago and Penny’s is one of the prime examples of this.  Each of these dishes would be at least $10 in Ann Arbor.  At Penny’s, all of these were $7.50. Oops, check that – the Pad Thai was much pricier at $7.95.  These prices are pretty close to McDonald’s range, but in this case you get fresh, healthy ingredients.

Do you have a favorite noodle shop? What’s your diner-like place to go?



Penny's Noodle Shop on Urbanspoon



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

17 comments on “Chicago Eats – Penny’s Noodle Shop

  1. The Dutchman
    April 9, 2014

    When we lived in Chicago, we regularly frequented Penny’s.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have regular diner or noodle place in Ann Arbor.

  2. El Guapo
    April 9, 2014

    We were in a noodle shop right outside Greenwich Village last weekend. excellent dim sum, and the rice and ramen noodles we had were delicious!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 9, 2014

      what’s the name of it? By brother is at Broadway & Houston. Hope to visit him soon. At very least I can pass it on to him

      • El Guapo
        April 9, 2014

        Niu Noodles, I think
        If you like, let me know when you’re in town.

  3. Almassy, Derrick @ Oak Brook
    April 9, 2014

    Wasabi in Logan Square. Had it for the first time last weekend and it was AMAZING. AMAZING. It’s probably among the highest rated ramen joints in the city and was way better than slurping turtle. Had the pork belly buns as starters and having had David Chang’s version in New York at Momofuku, I can say they were comparable if not better. Also had the chicken lollipops and those were only okay—a little too long in the fry daddy. Then, had the spicy garlic miso ramen and added extra pork belly (because it was so perfect). Best ramen I’ve ever had.

  4. elizabeth
    April 9, 2014

    I’m alerting my Chi-town friend to this place, and hopefully I’ll be able to check it out for myself the next time I’m in town, because the BYOB and good noodle combination is too good to not try.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 9, 2014


      May want to check out Wasabi, which was mentioned elsewhere in the comments. Heard that’s outstanding. Not sure of BYOB status, though. Penny’s is a cheap, convenient-type thing. Come to think of it, you may want to make sure Penny’s is still BYOB. I think it is, but didn’t think to check.

      If you’re visiting from out of town, Penny’s is probably better as a lunch place or somewhere to take kids. But there are many other BYOBs. Stay tuned, I’m going to post on a great BYOB I went to called “Home Bistro”

  5. Liza M.
    April 9, 2014

    What are your thoughts on Tomukun? I really like it but I’m no noodle bar expert.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 9, 2014

      I was going to set this post up as a comparison between the two, but went a different direction. I like Tomukun a lot as food-wise it’s closest to Penny’s. They go a little bit “deeper”into the cuisines and have some really interesting combinations. Tomokun is also less casual. Hopefully with the new Tomukun BBQ it’ll be easier to get a table at the original place.

      That said – Slurping Turtle is going to blow them all away…

  6. ksbeth
    April 10, 2014

    omg i am so hungry now. and looking forward to slurping turtle )

  7. pegoleg
    April 10, 2014

    I’m going to remember Penny’s for the next time I’m in Chicago.

    Can you see the cover/hover ads that are laid over the bottom of your photos? They’re pushing medical secrets of foods that will either kill your brain or help your brain. Kinda freaky.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 10, 2014

      That’s on the main page, right? I have given up on how to take those off.

      I think Tequila is one of those secrets. I’ll let you guess if it helps or kills…

    June 19, 2014

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good results.
    If you know of any please share. Thanks!

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This entry was posted on April 9, 2014 by in Ann Arbor, Dining, The Chi, Travel and tagged , , , , , , .
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