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A bowl of pho.
The city has many great options for phở.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

The Essential Vietnamese Restaurants in Chicago

Discover the best sandwiches, noodle soups, and more

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The city has many great options for phở.
| Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Chicago is home to a small but vibrant Vietnamese community. As a result, there are quite a few options for quality Southeast Asian specialties. The following restaurants — spanning Argyle Street to Pilsen — excel at bánh mì, phở, gỏi cuốn, and much more. Both home-style recipes and modern takes on classic Vietnamese dishes are represented, and most of the menus are so expansive that multiple visits are necessary in order to try all the greatest hits.

As of August 20, the city has mandated that everyone wear facial coverings while indoors. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Buncha Hanoi

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Up north in suburban Glenview, Buncha Hanoi dedicates itself to recipes from Vietnam’s capital. The namesake specialty, bún chả, was popularized several years ago by President Obama and Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown. It consists of multiple components: Grilled pork skewers and patties, rice vermicelli noodles, veggies, herbs, and a bowl of funky fish sauce to dip the ingredients in. The dish’s beautiful mélange of flavors and textures is worth a visit alone, but the menu also features items like phở and bánh mì. Online ordering is available here.

Pho Nam Lua

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Arguably the city’s best phở is made in a nondescript strip mall restaurant on the far North Side . Pho Nam Lua (or Pho 5 Lua) is a favorite among Vietnamese expats and its namesake dish stands above other local offerings. A complex and aromatic broth is accompanied by add-ons like fatty beef, hunks of oxtail, tripe, meatballs, and more. Diners are also encouraged to garnish their bowls with as much basil, bean sprouts, and cilantro as they want. Online orders can be placed here.

A bowl of pho
The phở at Pho Nam Lua is second to none.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Pasteur

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Edgewater’s beautiful Vietnamese restaurant is inspired by French colonialism. Hanging chandeliers, leather banquettes, white tablecloths, and lush greenery create an air of European sophistication while guests are treated to dishes like claypot catfish, deep fried red snapper, and bánh xèo — Vietnamese stuffed crepes. Online ordering is available here.

Cafe Hoang

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Dabbling in both Vietnamese and Thai dishes, Cafe Hoang is a great place to enjoy Southeast Asian cooking. The must-try is the fragrant bún bò Huế, a spicy noodle soup featuring a rich broth made by simmering beef and pork bones. Lemongrass, chili oil, and fermented shrimp paste are added to amp up the flavor, and it’s served with rice noodles, thin slices of beef, pork sausage, and pork knuckle.

Nha Hang

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Go beyond the usual lineup of bánh mì and phở at this no-frills spot in the West Argyle Street Historic District. Home-style recipes power the menu and there are options like rare beef salad, bún mắm (fermented fish noodle soup), and rice vermicelli noodles served with proteins and a funky fish sauce.

A bowl of rice noodles with pork, shrimp, veggies, and crushed peanuts.
Nha Hang offers some of Vietnam’s lesser-known dishes.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Danang Kitchen

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A relative newcomer to Argyle Street, Danang Kitchen specializes in the cuisine of Central Vietnam. Be sure to order the signature mì quảng, a popular dish consisting of rice noodles, pork belly, shrimp, quail eggs, and herbs in turmeric-infused broth. Cơm gà xối mỡ — five-spice crispy chicken served with turmeric rice, cucumbers, house pickles, and soy sauce — is another winner. The menu carries coffees, teas, and smoothies as well.

A bowl of rice noodles topped with pork belly, shrimp, quail eggs, herbs, and a rice cracker.
Dig into a delicious bowl of mì quảng at Danang Kitchen.
Danang Kitchen [Official Photo]

Ba Le Sandwiches

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For those short on time, a bánh mì is always an excellent choice. Especially when it’s from Uptown shop Ba Le. The menu has over a dozen sandwiches, ranging from the classic combination of pate, ham, head cheese, and pork roll to vegetarian and vegan options loaded with tofu, king oyster mushrooms, and more. Each one comes on crusty French bread along with mayo, pickled daikon, carrot, onions, cilantro, and jalapenos. There are also baked goods and grab-and-go items like gỏi cuốn (spring rolls) and sweet sticky rice. Online ordering is available here.

A banh mi sandwich loaded with pate, ham, head cheese, and pork roll.
This sandwich specialist has options for every palate.
Ba Le Sandwiches [Official Photo]

Hai Yen

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Carnivores will find a host of pleasures at Hai Yen. The signature bò nướng lá lốt is an appetizer of marinated grilled beef and pork wrapped in Hawaiian leaf. In addition, the restaurant offers bò 5 mónfive courses of beef prepared multiple ways, including being cooked at the tableside. Online orders can be placed here.

Pho 777

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The title of Chicago’s best phở varies from person to person, but this Argyle Street stalwart belongs in the discussion. The soup is lighter and sweeter than other versions and comes teeming with all of the standard fixins. Another standout is bánh xèo, crispy crepes stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Online orders can be placed here.

Pho Viet

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Heartwarming noodle soup is, predictably, the attraction at Pho Viet. The aromatic phở broth is simmered for 14 hours before meeting the bowl with rice noodles, meatballs, slices of beef, and the requisite add-ons. There’s a lot to try as the extensive menu also has sandwiches, congees, rice plates, stir-fried noodles, various meat and seafood entrees, and more. But no matter the choice, it’s sure to satisfy. Online orders can be placed here.

Nhu Lan Bakery

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Bánh mì is the focus of this popular eatery. Fresh baguettes are baked on site each day and cradle a variety of fillings. The house special features rich pate, head cheese, ham, and pork roll alongside pickled daikon, carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapenos. Other choices include sugar cane shrimp, lemongrass chicken, ginger tofu, and roasted pork. A second Nhu Lan outpost is located in Uptown.

A roasted pork banh mi sandwich.
Nhu Lan’s bánh mì sandwiches are exemplary.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Sochi Saigonese Kitchen

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This new Lakeview restaurant is a revelation that explores the regional flavors of Ho Chi Minh City. The entire salad section is full of hits and includes seared duck and Bến Thành Market-inspired varieties. The phở features brisket and skirt steak, giving diners a luxurious combo of meats. One of the more interesting dishes is “Sun’s Rice,” a mélange of grilled pork, crispy egg, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. It’s lighter than it seems and packed with tons of flavor. The decor is also notable as it’s sleek, modern, and comfy enough for both date night or an early afternoon meal with family.

The interior of a restaurant looking out towards the street.
Sochi Saigonese Kitchen tackles regional dishes.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Phodega

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As the name suggests, this tiny restaurant-bodega hybrid puts a lot of attention on its phở. There are three exceptional versions: A beef-based phở bò filled with meatballs and sliced brisket and rib eye; a chicken noodle soup (phở gà) full of poached thigh meat; and a vegan phở chay that stars a vegetable broth. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo also whip up clever items like a spicy fried chicken banh mi and an Italian-beef-inspired Viet dip sandwich. If that’s not enough, there’s an assortment of fun Asian snacks to purchase too. Online ordering can be done here.

A bowl of beef pho.
Wicker Park’s Phodega delivers hearty noodle soups and creative Vietnamese-inspired bites.
Phodega [Official Photo]

Saigon Sisters

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Sisters Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen started their business as a vendor at Chicago French Market before blossoming into a full-service restaurant just a few blocks away. The pair reimagine Vietnamese flavors through a modern lens, resulting in intriguing items like Sriracha wings, grilled baby octopus with squid ink rice, Vietnamese ramen, and bánh bao (steamed buns) filled with barbecue jackfruit. A third Saigon Sisters outpost is located in Streeterville. Online orders can be placed here.

A banh mi sandwich.
Bánh mì and bánh bao are favorites on Saigon Sisters’ menu.
Saigon Sisters [Official Photo]

HaiSous

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Husband-and-wife couple Thai and Danielle Dang made a triumphant return to Chicago’s restaurant scene in 2017 with a critically acclaimed passion project. HaiSous — one of the city’s most essential spots — uses a number of techniques, such as clay pot cooking, to showcase the range of Southeast Asian flavors. Highlights include green papaya salad, thịt bò bít tết nướng (dry-aged ribeye), and whole fried fluke. Dang also celebrates Vung Tàu, a port city on the southern coast, with a seafood-centric family-style tasting menu. An attached cafe, Cà Phê Dá, offers even more options like wings covered in caramelized fish sauce, fries, waffles, and Vietnamese coffee drinks.

A salad of octopus, eggplant, shaved radish, and roasted peanuts.
Thai Dang’s Pilsen hotspot has earned numerous accolades.
Jason Little/HaiSous

Buncha Hanoi

Up north in suburban Glenview, Buncha Hanoi dedicates itself to recipes from Vietnam’s capital. The namesake specialty, bún chả, was popularized several years ago by President Obama and Anthony Bourdain on Parts Unknown. It consists of multiple components: Grilled pork skewers and patties, rice vermicelli noodles, veggies, herbs, and a bowl of funky fish sauce to dip the ingredients in. The dish’s beautiful mélange of flavors and textures is worth a visit alone, but the menu also features items like phở and bánh mì. Online ordering is available here.

Pho Nam Lua

Arguably the city’s best phở is made in a nondescript strip mall restaurant on the far North Side . Pho Nam Lua (or Pho 5 Lua) is a favorite among Vietnamese expats and its namesake dish stands above other local offerings. A complex and aromatic broth is accompanied by add-ons like fatty beef, hunks of oxtail, tripe, meatballs, and more. Diners are also encouraged to garnish their bowls with as much basil, bean sprouts, and cilantro as they want. Online orders can be placed here.

A bowl of pho
The phở at Pho Nam Lua is second to none.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Pasteur

Edgewater’s beautiful Vietnamese restaurant is inspired by French colonialism. Hanging chandeliers, leather banquettes, white tablecloths, and lush greenery create an air of European sophistication while guests are treated to dishes like claypot catfish, deep fried red snapper, and bánh xèo — Vietnamese stuffed crepes. Online ordering is available here.

Cafe Hoang

Dabbling in both Vietnamese and Thai dishes, Cafe Hoang is a great place to enjoy Southeast Asian cooking. The must-try is the fragrant bún bò Huế, a spicy noodle soup featuring a rich broth made by simmering beef and pork bones. Lemongrass, chili oil, and fermented shrimp paste are added to amp up the flavor, and it’s served with rice noodles, thin slices of beef, pork sausage, and pork knuckle.

Nha Hang

Go beyond the usual lineup of bánh mì and phở at this no-frills spot in the West Argyle Street Historic District. Home-style recipes power the menu and there are options like rare beef salad, bún mắm (fermented fish noodle soup), and rice vermicelli noodles served with proteins and a funky fish sauce.

A bowl of rice noodles with pork, shrimp, veggies, and crushed peanuts.
Nha Hang offers some of Vietnam’s lesser-known dishes.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Danang Kitchen

A relative newcomer to Argyle Street, Danang Kitchen specializes in the cuisine of Central Vietnam. Be sure to order the signature mì quảng, a popular dish consisting of rice noodles, pork belly, shrimp, quail eggs, and herbs in turmeric-infused broth. Cơm gà xối mỡ — five-spice crispy chicken served with turmeric rice, cucumbers, house pickles, and soy sauce — is another winner. The menu carries coffees, teas, and smoothies as well.

A bowl of rice noodles topped with pork belly, shrimp, quail eggs, herbs, and a rice cracker.
Dig into a delicious bowl of mì quảng at Danang Kitchen.
Danang Kitchen [Official Photo]

Ba Le Sandwiches

For those short on time, a bánh mì is always an excellent choice. Especially when it’s from Uptown shop Ba Le. The menu has over a dozen sandwiches, ranging from the classic combination of pate, ham, head cheese, and pork roll to vegetarian and vegan options loaded with tofu, king oyster mushrooms, and more. Each one comes on crusty French bread along with mayo, pickled daikon, carrot, onions, cilantro, and jalapenos. There are also baked goods and grab-and-go items like gỏi cuốn (spring rolls) and sweet sticky rice. Online ordering is available here.

A banh mi sandwich loaded with pate, ham, head cheese, and pork roll.
This sandwich specialist has options for every palate.
Ba Le Sandwiches [Official Photo]

Hai Yen

Carnivores will find a host of pleasures at Hai Yen. The signature bò nướng lá lốt is an appetizer of marinated grilled beef and pork wrapped in Hawaiian leaf. In addition, the restaurant offers bò 5 mónfive courses of beef prepared multiple ways, including being cooked at the tableside. Online orders can be placed here.

Pho 777

The title of Chicago’s best phở varies from person to person, but this Argyle Street stalwart belongs in the discussion. The soup is lighter and sweeter than other versions and comes teeming with all of the standard fixins. Another standout is bánh xèo, crispy crepes stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Online orders can be placed here.

Pho Viet

Heartwarming noodle soup is, predictably, the attraction at Pho Viet. The aromatic phở broth is simmered for 14 hours before meeting the bowl with rice noodles, meatballs, slices of beef, and the requisite add-ons. There’s a lot to try as the extensive menu also has sandwiches, congees, rice plates, stir-fried noodles, various meat and seafood entrees, and more. But no matter the choice, it’s sure to satisfy. Online orders can be placed here.

Nhu Lan Bakery

Bánh mì is the focus of this popular eatery. Fresh baguettes are baked on site each day and cradle a variety of fillings. The house special features rich pate, head cheese, ham, and pork roll alongside pickled daikon, carrots, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapenos. Other choices include sugar cane shrimp, lemongrass chicken, ginger tofu, and roasted pork. A second Nhu Lan outpost is located in Uptown.

A roasted pork banh mi sandwich.
Nhu Lan’s bánh mì sandwiches are exemplary.
Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Sochi Saigonese Kitchen

This new Lakeview restaurant is a revelation that explores the regional flavors of Ho Chi Minh City. The entire salad section is full of hits and includes seared duck and Bến Thành Market-inspired varieties. The phở features brisket and skirt steak, giving diners a luxurious combo of meats. One of the more interesting dishes is “Sun’s Rice,” a mélange of grilled pork, crispy egg, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. It’s lighter than it seems and packed with tons of flavor. The decor is also notable as it’s sleek, modern, and comfy enough for both date night or an early afternoon meal with family.

The interior of a restaurant looking out towards the street.
Sochi Saigonese Kitchen tackles regional dishes.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Phodega

As the name suggests, this tiny restaurant-bodega hybrid puts a lot of attention on its phở. There are three exceptional versions: A beef-based phở bò filled with meatballs and sliced brisket and rib eye; a chicken noodle soup (phở gà) full of poached thigh meat; and a vegan phở chay that stars a vegetable broth. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo also whip up clever items like a spicy fried chicken banh mi and an Italian-beef-inspired Viet dip sandwich. If that’s not enough, there’s an assortment of fun Asian snacks to purchase too. Online ordering can be done here.

A bowl of beef pho.
Wicker Park’s Phodega delivers hearty noodle soups and creative Vietnamese-inspired bites.
Phodega [Official Photo]

Saigon Sisters

Sisters Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen started their business as a vendor at Chicago French Market before blossoming into a full-service restaurant just a few blocks away. The pair reimagine Vietnamese flavors through a modern lens, resulting in intriguing items like Sriracha wings, grilled baby octopus with squid ink rice, Vietnamese ramen, and bánh bao (steamed buns) filled with barbecue jackfruit. A third Saigon Sisters outpost is located in Streeterville. Online orders can be placed here.

A banh mi sandwich.
Bánh mì and bánh bao are favorites on Saigon Sisters’ menu.
Saigon Sisters [Official Photo]

HaiSous

Husband-and-wife couple Thai and Danielle Dang made a triumphant return to Chicago’s restaurant scene in 2017 with a critically acclaimed passion project. HaiSous — one of the city’s most essential spots — uses a number of techniques, such as clay pot cooking, to showcase the range of Southeast Asian flavors. Highlights include green papaya salad, thịt bò bít tết nướng (dry-aged ribeye), and whole fried fluke. Dang also celebrates Vung Tàu, a port city on the southern coast, with a seafood-centric family-style tasting menu. An attached cafe, Cà Phê Dá, offers even more options like wings covered in caramelized fish sauce, fries, waffles, and Vietnamese coffee drinks.

A salad of octopus, eggplant, shaved radish, and roasted peanuts.
Thai Dang’s Pilsen hotspot has earned numerous accolades.
Jason Little/HaiSous

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