Whether you are a Chicago resident or just a visitor to this great city, I urge you to visit as many of the different neighborhoods as possible. Make certain you partake of the fabulous cuisine that exists in each one. I am a huge fan of the Uptown neighborhood on, you guessed it, Chicago’s north side. It’s a gritty little part of “The WIndy City” that offers some great grub and fun history. Below is my rundown of some awesome Uptown spots you should definitely check out, if you haven’t already:
Uptown Near the Argyle ‘L’ stop:
Ba Le is one of the very best places in Chicago to find great banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches with French influence. In addition to the fantastic banh mi ingredients, e.g. grilled pork, meatballs, paté, lemongrass, etc., Ba Le is a bakery which is churning out fantastic French bread for these sandwiches. In fact, they supply this bread to other restaurants in Uptown and the rest of Chicago. Ba Le’s bread is super crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Not into banh mi? No worries, Ba Le offers soups, salads and delicious smoothies. Don’t forget to pick up some lovely macaroons for dessert on the way out . 5014 N. Broadway (1 block west of the Argyle ‘L’ stop)
If you are craving Thai food, the kind you’ll find at street stalls in that country, then you need to put Immm Rice & Beyond on your “must do list.” But, first, grab a bottle of your favorite booze on the way over because Immm is BYOB!
Once inside, head over to the front counter to eyeball all the daily menu items. You can even sample some of them before committing to a full order. Then, grab a table and place your order. I loved the spicy green papaya salad, tilapia in banana leaves, the spicy beef noodles and the fantastic mango sticky rice. – 4949 N. Broadway (1 block west and around the corner from the Argyle ‘L’ stop).
Nothing makes me do a happy dance more than a steaming, hot bowl of soup. Pho (pronounced F-U-H), a traditional Vietnamese soup, jumps high on my list of soups I adore. While there are a few awesome places for beef pho in Uptown, Uptown Pho is the rare spot that serves a tofu and veggie version. That’s why I love it. Sometimes a person needs a meatless day 🙂
Last week, as the weather was finally getting a bit cooler, I stopped by Uptown Pho for some righteous veggie pho so glorious that it gave me a steam facial 🙂 I just love how fresh and light this pho is. The presentation with all the fresh bean sprouts and mint leaves is gorgeous. The noodles have great texture. 1010 W. Argyle St. (3 blocks east of the Argyle ‘L’ stop).
Uptown is also home to Pho 777, another awesome Vietnamese restaurant in this neighborhood. Don’t be scared off by the truly kitschy decor which belies the truly stellar food served here. I have not made my way through the entire menu but the pho is among the very best in Chicago.
On a recent visit, I decided to check out the grilled and marinated pork banh mi. I was not disappointed. The pork really packed a lot of flavor. Also, this banh mi did not have any paté which I appreciated, as I am not a fan.
Bonus! Pho 777 is a BYOB, so don’t forget to grab a bottle of your favorite booze on your way over there. – 1065 W. Argyle St. (2 blocks east of the Argyle ‘L’ stop)
If you ask most people living in Chicago which is their favorite place to get Vietnamese food, chances are they will mention Tank Noodle. It is has been around a long time and it is quite beloved. The menu is huge and the pho and spring rolls really rock. You can literally see this place from the Argyle ‘L’ stop. 4953-55 N. Broadway (1 block west of the Argyle ‘L’ stop).
Uptown Near the Wilson ‘L’ Stop
Baker & Nosh is tucked inside an historic building in Uptown. Peek inside the open kitchen and watch the daily breads and pastries come out of the ovens piping hot! It smells so great in this place. In fact, this spot made my list of 24 Coolest Chicago Coffee Spots.
The space at Baker & Nosh is really bright and it’s always busy. The coffee, sandwiches, flatbreads and pastries are all terrific. Stop by while the weather is still warm enough so you can sit in the front garden. – 1303 Wilson Ave. (4 blocks west of the Wilson ‘L’ stop)
This rustic Uptown coffeehouse has a great rotation of coffees, teas and pastries. I like to come here with my laptop when I need to hide out, work and enjoy some peace and quiet. – 935 W. Wilson (4 blocks east of the Wilson ‘L’ stop)
Uptown Near the Lawrence ‘L’ Stop
Who likes to eat with their hands? I sure do! Nothing makes me happier than to get tactile with my food. I also love to feed other people with my hands. Too much? Don’t knock it, until you try it! Demera Ethiopian offers the perfect opportunity for you to exercise this most sensual way of eating.
Injera bread is the spongy vehicle for picking up and eating the various meat and veggie options on this menu. The staff is really lovely and the space is very comfortable. Personally, I recommend the lamb and lentil dishes. Don’t miss their potent coffee! – 4801 N. Broadway (1 block west of the Lawrence ‘L’ stop)
This is, by far, the best Chinese restaurant outside of Chicago’s Chinatown. Seriously. Don’t worry, though. Silver Seafood has much more than seafood on the menu.
I like the house made veggie egg rolls and the super fresh Lake Superior white fish with crunchy yet tender vegetables in a white pepper. 4829 N. Broadway (1 block west and 1/2 north of the Lawrence ‘L’ stop)
Green Mill Lounge
Green Mill Lounge is an historic, Uptown landmark. It doesn’t look very inviting from the outside but step inside and you’ll be stepping back to the days when Al Capone was a frequent fixture here. Hell, he even had his own booth! Really. You can sit in it yourself and throw back some brown liquor or whatever tickles your fancy.
I always recommend that out-of-towners stop by Green Mill, as it has fantastic bands that perform until the wee hours of the morning (4am!). Also, this joint is where the original “poetry slam” began. Stop by on Sunday nights to check it out or sign up to share your own sweet words. Can you dig it?! 4802 N. Broadway (1 block west of the Lawrence ‘L’ stop, across the street from Demera Ethiopian)
You’re all set, folks! Hop the rails to Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and check out these awesome spots. How many have you tried? Do you have a favorite place to eat or drink in this part of town? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA trains and buses to these tasty spots in Chicago’s Uptown. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!