Argyle Street eats?
Returned to NYC exhausted, bloated and happy. My fave Chicago gal and I explored Argyle Street on Saturday afternoon to trace the area my paternal grandfather immigrated to in the fifties and for lunch. We wandered into a Vietnamese joint on Argyle off Sheridan (where the street ends) and had a delightful lunch of a pork bahn mi, beef noodle pho, chili squid with lemongrass, supplemented with Vietnamese coffee, and feeling emboldened, a durian shake. The food was well prepared,delicious, space filled with locals, staffed with pleasant service ending with a modest total bill. My apologies but I don't remember its name. My gal is trying to locate their biz card.
Later, we hit the local markets to fill our shoppong cart with exotic condiments, sauces and fruits including: fresh Longans aka "Dragon Eyes", Asia pears, Dragon fruit, and a fresh Durian! (She enjoyed the shake at the restaurant and was spellbound by its unique spiky football form.) We opened the durian back home and in short, she loooooves them. It wasn't as bad as what I was prejudiced to believe it would taste like. (English novelist Austin Burgess famously said that dining on durian is like eating vanilla custard in a latrine.) My friend tasted cinnamon in the soft, creamy, flesh. I detected carmelized onions. (We're both right.) If you ever purchase one yourself, open the windows before you open the fruit, and store the uneaten in an airtight container. My friend found out the hard way! The smell/stench isn't as bad as what Mt. Burgess wrote but it won't remind you of a spring rain either!
Thank you all again for your thoughtful input. See you the next time I'm in town. Until then...
GO B E A R S ! ! !
I agree with the recommendation of Tank for Vietnamese food. For banh mi, I like Ba Le, on Broadway at Argyle.
For the best Thai, you really have to elsewhere than Argyle Street (which is really a Vietnamese neighorhood, though with a few Thai places and a good Thai grocery). Go to Spoon Thai or Stcky Rice, both on Western Avenue in Lincoln Square (a neighbothood west of Uptown, where Argyle Street is located). I can't agree with the recommendation of Siam Noodle and Rice - both Spoon and Stcky Rice have "special" non-Americanized menus, translations of which you can find by doing a search of this board or that of LTH Forum.
The Korean neighborhood stretches along Lawrence, west of Western. There are many good Korean places there. One very good place (not on Lawrence, but not far away), is San Soo Gap San, 5247 N. Western (so north of Lawrence, which is 4800 north). Great Korean B-B-Q, served with a great array of panchan, and open, I believe, 24 hours.
For the above Korean and Thai places, take the Brown Line L to "Western," and go south for the Thai places (Spoon is within walking distance) and north for SSGS. To get to Argyle Street, you have to take a Red Line L and get off at "Argyle."
Re: TANK - We LOVE Tank - I merely meant that it's nothing fancy and not strong in the atmospheric/circus department. Though when crowd it can FEEL like a circus. Hey - out of dozens of competitors - I was RECOMMENDING the place!
Just heard - but HAVEN'T confirmed that Sun Wah is temporarily closed - courtesy of the Chicago Health Department.
Oh good. We're on the same page. When I think Vietnamese dive...I imagine work lunches at gritty Tu Lan on 6th St. in San Francisco...not the barebones, yet welcoming atmosphere of Tank. And, yep, there're other yummy restaurants in the area, but for a first timer, Tank might be the best bet.
Here are some specific recommendations for Tank Noodle:
P.S. If the O.P. is truly interested in authentic Thai food in the Argyle area, he/she will be best served by paying a visit to Thai Avenue. My translation of Thai Avenue's Thai Language Menu can be found here:
Hi Luca -
My top choices for Vietnamese/Chinese would be (NOTE: both are closed on Wednesdays - as are most on the block.)
1. Hai Yen - 1055 W. Argyle, 733/561-4077, www.haiyenrestaurant.com - my personal favorite for good inexpensive food with at least a little atmosphere. Wonderful Sea Bass, Lemon-Grass Chicken and beef (filet?) dishes to (they have a 7 course beef menu - best shared by more than two). Good bubble tea and fruit drinks too.
2. Tank Noodle (aka Pho Te Tang) - 4963 N. Broadway (at Argyle) 773/878-2253, www.tanknoodle.com - is very popular and usually crowded. It is very much a dive with no charm, But what it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in price and selection (the menu is VAST!) It's bound to be a mostly worthwhile experience.
For BBQ - we go to Sun Wah Bar-B-Que - 1134 W Argyle, 773-749-1254 (closed I think on Thursdays.) You can't miss it, it's the one (east of the tracks) with all the ducks, chicken (and pigs) hanging in the front window. A total hole in wall, the BBQ is good and cheap (but avoid the super cheap BBQ dishes listed on the back page of menu (a pile of rice with piece of bone/bbq meat.) Splurge a little, spend like $8 and get the better stuff (a WHOLE DUCK cost $12 take out. I'm told that both the (ahem) Dover Sole and the Shrimp are good there too.)
As for Thai - there are SO MANY good and fair to-mmiddling places in the city - but closer in to this neighberhood (about 1/2 mile south at 4654 N. Sheridan Rd)my choice would probably be Siam Noodle and Rice. This place is distinguished by it's authenticity (compared to the more westernized fare at other spots.) The food is very good (I'm told that "authentic" Thai's eat here...) It too is a dive when it comes to atmosphere.
Anyway, hope that helps. I'm sure my fellow Chow-Dogs will have additional recommendations for you to ponder.
BTW - I went to NYU and lived in NYC for 8 years and it's still very dear to my heart. Enjoy your visit here!
Everyone has their favorites. As you will soon discover there are many, many restaurants around Argyle/Broadway/Sheridan. You might start with Tank Noodle at the corner of Broadway and Argyle; they have a broad menu of Vietnamese standards. Though often debated, Ba Le, kitty-korner across from Tank, offers *I believe* a decent take on banh mi. If you're hankering for some of Chicago's best Chinese roast meat products you would do well to check out Sun Wah which is on Argyle heading towards Broadway past the L stop. To iterate, this is an area teeming with great food and sundry restaurants...the aforementioned are but a start.