There’s more to Uptown than the Aragon Ballroom and one of Chicago’s most conveniently located Targets. This neighborhood also has some great food - from pho to chilaquiles and vegan pizza. So whether or not you’re buying $400 worth of clothes hangers and paper towels before going to see 30 Seconds To Mars, check these spots out.
Tank Noodle is one of our favorite spots for Vietnamese food in Uptown. There’s an extensive menu that will make you want to order a lot, and it’s all good. So the best strategy for tackling this place is to bring plenty of friends and plan on sharing. Get everything from pho bowls, congee, and rice dishes to banh mi.
3 Squares is an upscale all-day diner with 1930s retro decor. The space is great for dining solo, with comfy booths and a long counter that will make you want to order a milkshake. You can get dishes like fancy French toast, chicken and waffles, and a Chicago pastrami “dog” (a pastrami sandwich with classic Chicago hot dog toppings) - and if you do decide to get that milkshake, it’s not a bad idea to add booze.
The specialty at this Chinese barbecue spot is the fantastic Peking duck, which is actually an off-menu item. It’s carved tableside and served with bao, then as a rice or noodle dish, and finally as a soup. The rest of the menu can be hit-or-miss, but the duck alone is worth the trip.
The interior of Miss Saigon looks like a long, sleek hallway full of boxy wooden stools and benches. The menu here has great dishes like Vietnamese bao (with pork, beef, shrimp, or chicken) and skillets made with your choice of meat plus peppers, a fried egg, and rice that gets really crispy from the hot pan. As an added bonus, this place is BYOB.
Tweet is a brunch spot that looks a little like an apartment decorated with art from garage sales. The menu is huge, and you can find pretty much anything you want - there are breakfast burritos, pumpkin pancakes, corn arepas, and eight different kinds of benedicts, plus an entire dedicated gluten-free menu. On the weekend Tweet gets incredibly crowded, but on weekday mornings it’s easy to get a table. Just plan ahead, since (also like a garage sale) this place is cash-only.
This upscale Ethiopian restaurant has been in the neighborhood for over 10 years. Plan to come with a group and order one of the messob platters, which serve three to eight people. It’s a communal dining situation that lets you try eight dishes picked out by the chef. Whatever they send out, plan on ordering extra injera - especially if your friends (or you) are terrible at sharing.
This is a good stop when you want to eat a quick bowl of noodle soup. It’s small and sparsely decorated, and has excellent pho with a slightly sweet broth and fresh noodles.
The banh mi sandwiches here are great, and there are a ton to choose from. Our favorite is the Saigon-style one with pate, head cheese, ham, and pork roll, but they have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, too. The bread has a perfectly soft interior and lightly crispy exterior, and the casual space doubles as a market, so you can get treats like banh gio on your way out.
This is a casual restaurant serving fantastic Thai street food - you’ll find a long menu of curries, noodle dishes, grilled meats, and six different papaya salads. They clearly understand that when everything is good it’s hard choose what to order, so there’s even a section called “Thai Dinner Table” where you can order tasting portions of different dishes, along with rice (or noodles for curries). It’s easy to keep adding on to the order, which is definitely what you’ll end up doing.
Nha Hang is a very small Vietnamese restaurant, and we have no idea how they manage to keep up with their incredibly long menu - but they do. There are over 200 dishes to try, and it would probably take you a year to get through all of them. We recommend starting with the squid salad, clay-pot pork and shrimp, and the bun mam (a seafood soup). There are only a few tables here, but there always seem to be seats available, and this place is also great for takeout.
Kal’ish is an all-day vegan comfort food spot serving things like burgers, pulled pork sandwiches made with jackfruit, and (seitan) chicken and waffles. Overall it’s a reminder that vegan food isn’t necessarily healthy, which is just fine by us.
The other location of this old-school Chinese bakery is in Chinatown, and we’re really glad there’s one on the North Side. This place is fantastic, and you can’t go wrong with anything from their pastry case. They have incredible pork buns, sponge cakes, sesame balls, egg custards, and much more. Everything is made fresh daily, and there are plenty of tables inside, too. Just plan ahead - it’s cash-only.
There are other things on the menu at Tiztal, but you’re really there to eat their fantastic chilaquiles, made with fresh chips, chihuahua cheese, and a delicious green salsa. They come with eggs and your choice of meat, and you should choose chorizo. This place is casual, small, and perfect for a low-key breakfast in the neighborhood.