Nestled by the Argyle Red Line stop in Uptown is an area known as "Little Vietnam." Recently called out as an "Opportunity Area" by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and newly adorned with a big "Asia on Argyle" sign, this vibrant area full of restaurants and shops is on the rise, and makes for a fun place to spend an afternoon.
If you're a fan of Pho-a tasty noodle soup dish that's a common street food in Vietnam-this is the neighborhood to get your fix. With its expansive menu, Tank Noodle is the area's most popular Pho destination. If you feel like skipping the line at Tank, you can step over to nearby Pho Viet or Pho Lily, which both offer up tasty versions of the dish at reasonable prices.
Another popular Vietnamese street food is Bahn Mi, and the Argyle Corridor's best place to get your hands on a wide assortment of these spicy sandwiches is at Ba Le. Family owned, Ba Le also makes a delicious Vietnamese Iced Coffee and its own macarons in a rainbow of flavors and colors.
Though the area is dominated by Vietnamese food, Chinese cuisine also appears. For Chinese food, Furama is an ornate Chinese restaurant with an impressive dim sum, and Lao Sze Chun is a recent addition to the scene. At Sun Wah B-B-Q Restaurant, a whole family can stuff themselves on the Beijing Duck Feast, served with Bao and vegetables.
There are a few great little shops to acquire a variety of cool souvenirs and gifts. Tan Thanh Gift Inc. has plenty of Chinese porcelain for you to peruse, and Hiep Loi has a lot of bamboo plants and home décor items. If you're looking for the premier Asian market in Chicago, Tai Nam Market will blow your mind with more than 10,000 food items and a wide assortment of cookware.
When you're done eating and shopping, stop by the Bezazian branch of the Chicago Public Library or the Carmen Playlot. An "Asian Market"-featuring food vendors, later hours for shops and entertainment-will be starting soon on Thursday evenings, which should bring even more attention to the area.
"Little Vietnam" is a cultural treat for the senses right in the middle of Uptown. Take the time to be a tourist in your own city, and check it out!
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