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Your guide to Asia on Argyle in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood
Your guide to Asia on Argyle in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood
Apr 14, 2024 7:40 AM

Nestled off the Argyle Red Line Stop is Uptown’s Asia on Argyle, a vibrant cultural corridor home to authentic Southeast Asian cuisines and locally owned businesses. Also known as Little Saigon, the area was transformed in the 1970s by refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia along with Chinese entrepreneurs. Today, people can enjoy a wide range of places to eat, shop, and explore, from trying a rich bowl of phở to buying a new bonsai tree.

Here’s a guide to restaurants, shopping, and events around Asia on Argyle, one of Chicago’s most diverse areas.

Asia on Argyle restaurants

Immm ThaiFor an extensive menu of authentic Vietnamese food, head over to Nhà Hàng. The traditional restaurant offers specialties such as Canh Chua Cá — a hot and sour soup with toppings that include shrimp, pineapple, tomatoes, and cilantro.

If you’re craving phở, walk down to Phở 777 where you can choose from more than 20 varieties of the popular noodle soup. Other menu highlights include their famous Cá Nướng Da Giòn, a crispy-skin baked fish. DaNang Kitchen is known for its central Vietnam-style dishes, serving Mì Quảng — a signature dish of pork-based broth and quail eggs with pork, shrimp, or chicken.

The lively district also offers delicious cuisines beyond Vietnamese food. As the biggest Chinese restaurant in Uptown, Furama has one of the largest varieties of dim sum in the city. Stop by on the weekend to order their special baked BBQ pork buns and experience the tradition of dim sum served on carts.

Try the Hong Kong-style Chinese barbeque at Sun Wah BBQ. Choose the off-menu Beijing Duck Dinner, where a whole roasted duck will be carved right in front of you into a multi-course feast that includes steamed bao, duck fried rice or noodles, and a duck broth soup. Immm Rice Beyond on Broadway serves traditional Thai street foods including Khao rad gang, a lunch plate of rice served with curry and stir fry dishes.

Spots for dessert and drinks

First Sip Uptown

First Sip Uptown For a quick drink, stop by First Sip Café on Argyle. Explore unique options such as an ubae latte, red beet latte, or coconut jasmine Vietnamese iced coffee. Loose-leaf teas are also available. Close by, Top Tao Tea offers an extensive list of teas ranging from milk teas to fresh fruit teas with toppings including brown sugar boba and Oreo brown sugar boba.

Try a taste of chè — a traditional Vietnamese beverage, dessert, drink, or pudding — at Bambū. Along with being both dairy-free and gluten-free, their chè ingredients are prepared daily using fresh coconut water plus house-prepared milk combined with a selection of pandan jelly, red tapioca, and fresh taro paste. Next door is Ba Le Sandwiches, where you can find not only bánh mì (a Vietnamese sandwich with ingredients like cold cuts, pickled carrots and pâté) but an impressive collection of Vietnamese chè, smoothies, and sweet snacks.

Asia on Argyle shopping

Asia on Argyle; photo by Adam AlexaderBrowse a large collection of greenery at Qideas, a unique plants and home goods store. Along with bonsai trees and lucky bamboo, the store sells a full line of serving ware, pots, woks, and Asian utensils.

Walk down to Lynamy Beauty Supply for all your nail and spa products. One of the largest wholesale/retail suppliers and distributors of beauty products on the north side of Chicago, you can pick from a selection of nail polishes, lotions, spa essentials, and lashes.

If you’re interested in cooking your own meal, head to Tai Nam Food Market for the ingredients. With more than 10,000 Asian food items, the market provides a huge selection of fresh seafood, noodles, pre-marinated meat, ready-to-cook items, and an assortment of cookware. Right down the street is Việt Hoa Plaza, another popular food market with a variety of Asian snacks, meat, and sauces from countries like Vietnam, China, and Japan.

Uptown cultural attractions and entertainment

Asia on Argyle Night MarketAs you walk through Asia on Argyle, you can admire the beautiful art murals scattered around the area. A mural off Argyle — titled Resilience by Caroline Liu — depicts a woman sipping a bowl with a carp and dragon around her. Inspired by a narrative in Chinese mythology, the story tells of a carp swimming upstream and leaping over a waterfall to become a dragon, representing hard work and hope for the future.

At the northeast corner of Argyle and Broadway is the East Meets West mural led by Ginny Sykes. With symbols like the lotus flower to represent various Asian cultures juxtaposed with images of water to represent Lake Michigan with dragonflies flowing between the images to imply mingling cultures, the mural is meant to show peace and harmony.

The bustling area also hosts seasonal events for locals and visitors. All summer long, Argyle Night Market spotlights food from local restaurants and live cultural events, drawing more than 3,000 people each week. And the Argyle Lunar New Year Celebration is a tradition that features cultural music, lion dances, and more to celebrate the start of a new year.

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