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A bowl of noodles and proteins.
Photograph: Erica GannettHai Yen

The 11 best Vietnamese restaurants in Chicago

Enjoy pork-stuffed banh mi, steaming bowls of pho and other Southeast Asian delicacies on Argyle Street and beyond.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Time Out contributors
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Jeffy Mai
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When the craving for Vietnamese food hits, you’ve got plenty of options in Chicago. Most locals are familiar with West Argyle Street Historic District, the city’s mecca for Southeast Asian cuisine, but it’s not the only area to find terrific sandwiches and noodle soups. Places like HaiSous and Sochi Saigonese Kitchen offer refined and elevated spins on authentic dishes, and are among the finest restaurants in the city. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, reliable mainstays Nhu Lan and Nha Hang are sure to hit the spot. You’ll find banh mi stuffed with pork and pickled veggies, rich pho teeming with beef, crispy banh xeo and much more. They also double as the best cheap eats in town. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Chicago’s best Vietnamese restaurants have you covered.

RECOMMENDED: Discover the best new restaurants in Chicago

Vietnamese restaurant guide

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Lower West Side
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Thai Dang and his wife Danielle write a love letter to Vietnam at their acclaimed Pilsen restaurant. Even if you’re familiar with the flavors of Southeast Asia, Dang will surprise you with his deft execution. Papaya salad bursts with herbaceous notes; jumbo chicken wings are double fried and coated in a caramelized fish sauce; and whole fried fluke is a beautiful marriage of crackly skin and silky white flesh. Those with large groups can opt for the family-style tasting menu for a guided dining experience.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Lake View
  • price 2 of 4

Husband-and-wife duo Chinh Pham and Son Do opened this Lakeview restaurant in 2021 to introduce locals to the flavors of Ho Chi Minh City. Though they’re first-time restaurant owners, you wouldn’t know it by how smoothly run and refined everything is. Seared duck salad bursts with texture while hefty egg rolls are stuffed with ground pork, shrimp and veggies and wrapped in imported Vietnamese rice paper. Even the pho is extraordinary—simmered for 10 hours and loaded with beef, noodles and herbs. And the bright and sleek space is suitable for both a casual date night or a celebratory dinner.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Lincoln Square
  • price 1 of 4

Part restaurant and part corner store, Phodega is a wholly unique concept in West Town. Swing by for a hot bowl of pho—there are beef, chicken and vegan versions—or a plate of Hainanese chicken rice. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo also think outside the box to create items like pho-style fries and an Italian beef-inspired Viet dip sandwich. On your way out, grab a couple of Asian snacks for the road.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • North Park
  • price 2 of 4

Because of the high concentration of Vietnamese restaurants in Uptown, it’s understandable if you thought the city’s best pho was found on Argyle Street. In actuality, it’s served at this low-key kitchen on the far North Side. Upon entering, you’ll spot tons of Vietnamese expats in the dining room—a sure sign you’re in the right place. The signature dish stars a complex and fragrant broth teeming with slices of beef, meatballs, tripe, oxtail and more. You can garnish your bowl with some herbs or dial up the spice with jalapenos.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

Pho and banh mi are both Vietnamese staples, and for good reason, but you can take a deeper dive into the cuisine of Vietnam at this no-frills spot. Home-style cooking drives the menu, which features dishes like fermented fish noodle soup and vermicelli noodles served with a protein and funky fish sauce.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Edgewater
  • price 2 of 4

Arguments for getting your Vietnamese fix here instead of on Argyle: (1) The space is stunning, with chandeliers that look like atoms, dark leather banquettes and tropical plants evoking a French-colonized Vietnam. (2) When you’re served the banh xeo, the friendly waiter will explain not only how to eat it, but its history. (3) That banh xeo is incredible. (4) The ca hong dam nuoc mam (whole red snapper) is so tender, so lightly fried, so flaky, you’ll pick at the bones like an alley cat. (5) The prices are reasonable. (6) There’s booze.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • River West/West Town
  • price 1 of 4

Part restaurant and part corner store, Phodega is a wholly unique concept in West Town. Swing by for a hot bowl of pho—there are beef, chicken and vegan versions—or a plate of Hainanese chicken rice. Owners Nathan Hoops and Anthony Ngo also think outside the box to create items like pho-style fries and an Italian beef-inspired Viet dip sandwich. On your way out, grab a couple of Asian snacks for the road.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

Come hungry to Hai Yen because you’re in for a meaty feast. Start with bò lá lốt, beef-and-pork sausages wrapped in betel leaves and grilled. Then get ready for beef prepared five different ways with the bò 5 món. It includes a cold beef salad, sliced beef cooked in a broth of sweet vinegar, and lemongrass grilled beef eaten in rice paper wraps. A loosening of your belt may be required afterwards.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian
  • Uptown

When you’re feeling a little chilly or under the weather, there’s no better remedy than a warm bowl of bún bò huế. And you’ll find no better version in Chicago than the one at Cafe Hoang. The aromatic spicy beef noodle soup is full of rice noodles, thin slices of beef, pork knuckle and blood sausage. Lemongrass, chili oil and fermented shrimp paste are added to pump up the flavors of the broth.

https://media.timeout.com/images/105925010/image.jpg
Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Uptown
  • price 1 of 4

When the French controlled Vietnam, baguettes crossed cultures, and one of the finest results of this is the banh mi sandwich. They’re plentiful in this area, but this bakery creates most of the bread restaurants use, so go try the source, a cute and colorful counter-service spot with stimulation galore. Jump in line for the barbecue pork or the Ba Le special, which piles housemade pâté, headcheese and pork onto a baguette with tangy carrot and daikon slivers, cilantro and jalapeño. Grab a Vietnamese iced coffee for an interesting ending.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Whereas Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen stick mostly to banh mi sandwiches at their French Market stand, here, at the slick little eatery they opened around the block, they’ve gone upscale. A plate of delicious (if sweet) baos is a good place to start; bún chả is a traditional and delicious second course; and you can end with a fried bao with seasonal jam or a macaron.

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