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5 Restaurants that Accept EBT in Illinois

5 Restaurants that Accept EBT in Illinois

Did you know that there are five restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois?! This state launched their Restaurant Meals Program in Spring 2022, so the program is still fairly new. So far, five restaurants have already been prepped and approved to start accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from eligible customers!

However, this is a complex program so there are a few things you need to know before you rush out to purchase your restaurant meals.

Only certain people can use the Restaurant Meals Program.

Unfortunately, not all Illinois LINK cardholders can purchase meals at these restaurants. The program is limited to those who are unable to prepare their own meals at home because they are disabled, elderly (age 60+) or homeless. Everyone else still has to abide by regular SNAP rules.

In order to be eligible for the Restaurant Meals Program, at least one of the following criteria must be true:

  • You must be at least 60 years old; OR
  • You must be determined to be disabled by a relevant government agency; OR
  • You must be homeless.

Of course, just like most government programs, this isn’t as straightforward as it might sound. In many cases, homeless can mean everything from sleeping on the streets to sleeping in your friend’s spare room for a while. It’s actually quite complicated.

You may also be able to buy food at the restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois if you are married to someone who meets one of these requirements, even if you don’t meet them yourself. For example, Sally is 55 but she is married to Roger, who is 62. Roger is eligible. Since Sally is the only other person on the food stamps case, she is eligible too. However, if Sally and Roger live with their grandchildren and receive SNAP benefits as a large household then Roger would not be able to use the Restaurant Meals Program and neither would Sally.

This only works at certain restaurants.

There are only a few restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois. Not every restaurant is set up to process SNAP payments through the Restaurant Meals Program. In order to take these benefits, restaurants must apply and go through an approval process. Sometimes, the paperwork can be extensive and the requirements can be tedious, so some restaurant owners don’t like to bother with it.

For example, restaurants must have sit-down seating available, be fully accessible to people with disabilities, provide low-cost meals and obtain a point-of-sale device that can process EBT transactions.

As of this publication, Illinois is still testing their program. They have limited the pilot to certain zip codes in Chicago. The zip codes are 60617, 60619, 60620 and 60628. For the pilot program, Illinois is looking to authorize two restaurants in DeWitt County, two in Franklin County, and eight in Cook County.

There are currently six restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois.

If you meet the requirements of this program, you can buy some delicious hot meals from incredible restaurants in the area. The restaurants that have been announced as Restaurant Meals Program participants include:

BJ’s Market & Bakery

BJ’s Market boasts its fine Southern cooking. Their menu includes staples like roasted chicken, fried catfish, beef ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, cornbread, pies, and more. They even offer a senior discount with valid ID!

Their $10.99 value meal includes an entree with a hot side and a cornbread muffin. Eligible sides include mustard fried catfish, southern fired catfish, baked catfish, pork rib tips, white or dark chicken, or a three-side veggie plate. Unfortunately, you cannot get a discount on the value meal as it is already discounted.

BJ’s Market and Bakery is located at 1737 E 95th St in Chicago.

Doughboy’s Chicago

Doughboy’s Chicago sells a variety of food, including burgers, chicken, catfish nuggets, wings and more. They also have veggie options available. It’s also home of the Spaghedough, which is a spaghetti wioth ground turkey and Italian turkey sausage. A vegetarian Veggidough is also available.

Doughboys is located at 352 E 71st St. in Chicago.

Firehouse Bakery and Grill

Firehouse Bakery and Grill serves a variety of comfort foods, including pizza, lasagna, chicken wings and sometimes even peach cobbler. Entrees include two sides and bread.

Firehouse Bakery and Grill is located at 720 E 75th ST in Chicago.

JJ Fish and Chicken

JJ Fish and Chicken serves, obviously, a variety of fish and chicken. They serve wings and even chicken Philly footlongs.

JJ Fish and Chicken is located at 47 W 79th St in Chicago.

Ocean Wave Soul & Seafood

The Ocean Wave menu includes catfish, chicken strips, pizza puffs, shrimp, and even cheesecake! This is the newest of the restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois. I wasn’t able to locate a social media page to provide pictures, but you can browse their menu and images on their website.

Ocean Wave Soul and Seafood is located at 8655 Jeffery Blvd in Chicago.

S2 Express Grill

S2 Express Grill is an offshoot of the S2 Ultra Bar in Calumet Park. These restaurants offer casual gourmet eats, including lamb chops, steaks, egg rolls, crab legs, jerked chicken, handmade pizza, dirty rice and more. According to their Facebook page, they accept EBT for everything on the menu!

S2 Express Grill has multiple locations but the ONLY location that can process SNAP EBT payments is at 129 E 103rd St in Chicago.

FAQs about Restaurants that Accept EBT in Illinois

Of course, most people have been told over and over again that they can’t buy hot food with EBT so we’ve naturally received a lot of questions about this. Here are the most frequently asked questions and answers.

Do the restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois take food or cash benefits?

The restaurants in our list accept both SNAP food benefits and cash benefits, according to the Illinois state government website.

Can I use SNAP benefits from a different state at these restaurants?

No. In order to purchase food from the restaurants that accept EBT in Illinois, your food benefits must come from the state of Illinois. States that do not participate in the Restaurant Meals Program will not let you spend your SNAP benefits at restaurants in any state.

Nicole is the owner and lead researcher for Low Income Relief. She has over 20 years of professional research and writing experience, and she has been solely dedicated to investigating low income topics for the last 10 years. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more. Her work has also been featured by Google for Publishers and other leading industry publications.