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A view of the sky walkway that reads Asia and Argyle on the outside in red letters on a sunny day.

Take a Sweet and Savory Food Tour of Uptown, Where Diners Can Have It All

Follow along on a winding journey through one of Chicago’s most diverse dining neighborhoods where banh mi and mooncakes flourish beside Oaxacan cuisine

Jack X. Li/Eater Chicago

Pleasing a crowd can be a tall order. Every palate has different inclinations — some err on the savory, salty side of the flavor equation, while others harbor a serious sweet tooth. With a little time and pounding of the pavement, a hungry group can have it all in Uptown, one of Chicago’s most distinctive and diverse dining neighborhoods.

There’s no serious conversation to be had about the area around Argyle and Broadway without addressing its large, influential Vietnamese American community. The swath of the city is best known for a plethora of popular Asian restaurants including Pho 777 and decorated Hong Kong-style barbecue spot Sun Wah BBQ, and one easily could spend many afternoons exploring these neighborhood fixtures.

Alongside these strongholds, however, urban explorers will also find compelling options that don’t fall under that umbrella, including a Oaxacan culinary specialist and a virtual deep-dish phenomenon that has put down roots after a pandemic debut. Join Eater Chicago on a winding, leisurely afternoon jaunt for toothsome banh mi, delectable Mexican delicacies, standout deep-dish pizza, and more.

Ba Le Sandwiches
5014 N. Broadway Street

Ba Le restaurant from the street.
A staple for more than three decades, Ba Le has rightfully earned stalwart status.
A cooler filled with rows of colorful macaron.
Macaron flavors include rose, green tea, and caramel.
A hand holds out a banh mi sandwich.
The menu includes many banh mi options for vegans and vegetarians.

It’s a good idea to set a baseline for any midday dining adventure, and longtime banh mi favorite Ba Le provides a convenient meeting place and starting point for such an endeavor. Founded in 1988 by chef Le Vo, who opened restaurants in Chicago and San Jose after decades of cooking in his native Vietnam, it’s a chilly retreat from the steamy sidewalk laden with coolers of colorful jellies, delicate macarons, and a long lineup of sandwich options. It’s fun to order several varieties of banh mi to split with pals, but for a reliable hit, there’s always the “special,” a Saigon-style combination of pate, ham, headcheese, and pork roll on a crisp baguette loaded with pickled daikon and carrot, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.

Tai Nam Food Market
4925 N. Broadway Street

Tai Nam Food Market storefront.
Snag a snack at Tai Nam.
A plastic bucket of fish heads.
Roly poly fish heads.
A checkout section inside an Asian market.
Many generations mix and mingle at the market.
Shelves of bagged chips.
International snacks are gaining increased attention in the U.S.

Next, it’s time for a short walk to Tai Nam Market, one of several Asian grocery stores in the area that doesn’t always garner the same attention as its competitors. Tucked around the corner from Broadway, the store is simple but far from spartan — rather, it’s packed to bursting with colorful bags of packaged snacks, dewy displays of fresh produce, and shelves lined with jars of nearly every size, shape, and color. It’s a prime opportunity to snag Lays’ lightly sweet boat noodle-flavored potato chips that emit a pleasing Thai basil aroma when you crack open the bag.

Honeymoon Cafe restaurant storefront.
Honeymoon Cafe is one of the top contenders in Chicago’s competitive Cantonese scene but demands stomach space beyond that of a casual crawl.
Double Happiness Bakery & Restaurant storefront.
Regulars rave about Double Happiness’s dry noodles with a side of broth and shumai served Viet-style.
VN Tofu & Fast Food storefront.
A haven for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans, VN Tofu is temporarily closed until late August.
Two cups of milk tea on a table.
It’s normal to feel sleepy after several stops. Uni Uni has the key to rejuvenation: sugary fruit and milk teas with boba or cheese foam.

Chiu Quon Bakery Uptown
1127 W. Argyle Street

Chiu Quon Bakery storefront.
Longtime adherents recommend getting dim sum to-go.
A round mooncake.
Traditionally associated with the Chinese mid-autumn festival, mooncakes hit the spot all year round.
A woman uses tongs to place a pastry on a tray.
The narrow bakery is standing room only.

Uptown’s Chiu Quon Bakery, which operates under different ownership than the famed Chinese bakery of the same name in Chinatown, manages to squeeze thrilling variety into a tiny storefront. Fluffy coconut buns, golden balls of fried taro coated in sesame seeds, and voluminous steamed egg custard bao provide all the decor that’s needed, flanked by wall-to-wall towers of white pastry boxes. Even on a sweaty day, glistening mooncakes filled with lotus paste make for a delicious, not-too-sweet bite.

DaNang Kitchen storefront.
DaNang Kitchen is a rare Chicago spot for mì quảng tôm thịt, a sweet-and-sour central Vietnamese dish.
Don Pablo’s Kitchen & Bakeshop storefront.
Uptown is also home to Don Pablo’s, the city’s sole outpost for Chilean empanadas.

5004 N. Sheridan Road

Kie-Gol-Lanee storefront.
Kie-Gol-Lanee is the phonetic spelling of the co-owners’ hometown in Oaxaca.
A dining room interior with hanging Mexican flags.
Chefs use recipes passed down through generations.
A plate of shrimp in red sauce.
Camarones a la Diabla (guajillo chipotle sauce).

Several hours into a crawl can be a tricky period when it’s hard to access how much more food one can actually eat. Those who forge ahead will be richly rewarded at Ki-Gol-Lanee, a Bib Gourmand-winning homage to Santa María Quiegolani, the Oaxacan hometown of co-owners María and Reynel Mendoza and María’s husband, Léonides Ramos. The casual vibe belies a team that is serious about hospitality. Their dedication is apparent in the deceptively simple quesadilla de huitlacoche, wrapped in a hand-pressed blue corn tortilla.

Blue corn masa tortillas on a press.
Each blue corn tortilla is pressed in the restaurant’s tiny kitchen.
A chef sprinkles salt on to a quail cooking in a pan.
Quail is native to southern Mexico.
A table filled with plates of Oaxacan food.
Staff point with pride to a “made in Mexico” stamp on a tortilla basket.

Milly’s Pizza in the Pan
1005 W. Argyle Street

A cooked deep-dish pizza is moved onto a rack to cool.
Even the most ambitious diners should bring a group to Milly’s.
A simple dining room inside a pizza parlor.
The pizza parlor gets a modern, stylish twist.

Ending a day of dining with deep-dish pizza is a bold move. A trip through Uptown, however, wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Milly’s, chef Robert Maleski’s pandemic mega-hit that opened a sleek storefront in 2022. The pies remain so popular that patrons need to pre-order (even when dining in). Ambitious groups that plan ahead will find some of the city’s most sought-after pizzas to be a formidable finale.

Don’t miss the Argyle Night Market

Every Thursday through the end of August, Uptown food crawlers will also find themselves in the middle of the Argyle Night Market. Now a decade-old institution, the miniature street festival features food from vendors and neighborhood restaurants, along with musical and cultural performances. Temperate summer evenings in Chicago are fleeting, as locals well know, so wise diners should seize the moment for a curbside snack amid throngs of neighborhood locals and visitors.

A sign with a red lantern reads “Argyle Night Market.”
The market pops up every Thursday through the end of August.
A streetside vendor tent from Imm Rice and Beyond.
The market provides even more eating opportunities from local spots like Imm.
A woman hands a cup of agua fresca to a customer at a streetside tent.
Vendors offer aguas frescas in a rainbow of flavors.
Two people sit and eat on a curb.
A crowd of people at a street festival.
A street festival is the cherry on top of any food crawl.

Chiu Quon Bakery

1127 West Argyle Street, , IL 60640 (773) 907-8888 Visit Website

Ba Le

5014 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 561-4424 Visit Website

Milly's Pizza In The Pan

1005 West Argyle Street, , IL 60640 (224) 656-4732 Visit Website

Uni Uni 攸攸茶 Uni Spice 攸攸堂 Uptown

1130 West Argyle Street, , IL 60640 (773) 878-3333 Visit Website


5004 North Sheridan Road, , IL 60640 (872) 241-9088 Visit Website

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