Category: Chicago Dining

Loyola’s Water Tower Campus

Loyola’s Water Tower Campus

A block and a half away from Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a few blocks from the Gold Coast neighborhood, and walking distance from the Oak Street Beach; you will find Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. Home to the Schools of Business, Education, Social Work, Law, Continuing & Professional Studies, Communications, and Loyola’s Arrupe College; Loyola’s other campus is one full of opportunities all in a central downtown location.

How to Get Here: 

Most students who live at the Lakeshore campus can take the Intercampus Shuttle Bus which runs typically every 15-20 minutes and gets you to either campus in around 25-30 minutes (depending on traffic). To use the shuttle service, be sure to use your guest pass or student ID card. Sometimes there is a delay on the shuttle or you cannot wait, you can also take the Red Line train from Loyola down to Chicago and State. This would roughly take 30-35 minutes. Of course, you can always take a Taxi or an Uber/Lyft.

Living Downtown:

Compared to Lakeshore campus, Water Tower has only one residence hall, Baumhart Hall. These rooms are often quads or triples. Luckily, there are also tons of apartments/condos that are situated close to campus for students to use.

Eating Downtown:

There are no dining halls at the Water Tower campus. However, LU’s deli, acts as a dining hall by providing sandwiches, plates, drinks, and more to students who have a meal plan. There are also places you can use your RamblerBucks: Epic Burger, Flaco’s Tacos, Potbelly, and Subway. In addition, being situated close to the Magnificent Mile allows students to have access to Water Tower Place (bunch of eateries, snacks, restaurants, cafes), Ghirardelli (for dessert), and small bake and pastry shops like Le Pain Quotedien.

Opportunities Downtown:

Being situated in Chicago gives students an advantage when it comes to finding jobs and internships. This is especially helpful for Communications and Business majors. Walking distance from campus are world renowned Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing, Finance, etc. agencies/corporations that offer internships/entry level jobs. Classes are also able to draw from real world application of their studies. For example, in my Consumer Behavior class we told to explore the psychological set up and intentional, sensory design of a store on Michigan Ave.

Events Downtown:

Every semester, the Water Tower campus holds a block party. Here students and faculty get a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company and of course free, tasty food. Caterers come to the campus with free sandwiches, salads, desserts, and coupons. There are also prizes you can win and you are able to enjoy some free musical entertainment. But seriously, who can turn down free, tasty food?

At Loyola’s School of Communications you can find Rambler Sports Locker which is Loyola’s version of ESPN with an update on sports, games, and events happening throughout the week. There is also WLUW 88.7 FM, Loyola’s radio station. Here, you can find talk shows, differing types of music, and more! Students are encouraged to apply to be able to become a DJ.

Explore Chicago CTA Edition: This is Cermak-Chinatown

Explore Chicago CTA Edition: This is Cermak-Chinatown

This is Cermak-Chinatown, doors open on the left at Cermak-Chinatown. Hey everyone and welcome to the first installment of Explore Chicago: CTA Edition. Today, we are going to be exploring one of the most fun and diverse neighborhoods in the city, Chinatown! So be sure to bring your ventra card (u-pass), a couple of friends, and an empty belly ; you are all ready to go!

Getting There:

There are three ways that I would recommend going to Chinatown, depending on where you live and with time considered. The first way is the easiest. You can take the CTA Red line down from Loyola straight into the Cermak-Chinatown station (toward 95th). This may take around an hour, give or take. Or, you can take the Intercampus shuttle from the Lakeshore Campus to the Water Tower Campus and take the El from Chicago and State toward Cermak-Chinatown. Lastly, you can always take an Uber or a Lyft, depending on the size of the group you are traveling with, and what time of day you are planning to visit.

Main Attractions: (Courtesy of TimeOut Chicago)

  1. Chinatown Square: This famous square is right outside of the station, across the street. Here you will find a two story mall of different shops offering food, drinks, and baked goods. However, the most prominent part of the square is the Chinese zodiac, represented by statues, on the perimeter. There is also a stage where performances are put on by traditional Chinese artists and musicians, these are popular during the summer months. According to TimeOut Chicago, the layout and design of Chinatown Square is based on a traditional Chinese imperial court.
  2. Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute: Close to Chinatown Square and the El Train is the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute. Here, a deep appreciation of the Chinese culture is instilled to promote an exchange of cultures, between the US and Chinese. There are many fun activities that you can do with your friends such as taking Tai-Chi lessons, going on Chinatown food tours, or even making dumplings dinners.
  3. Ping Tom Memorial Park: A little further than the two entries above, the Memorial Park is worth the walk. This area is a community space where people can take a break and relax on their busy day. If you are into kayaking, this is an ideal location since it is right on the Chicago River. They have also recently built a Field house for members of the community where there is an indoor pool, fitness center, and a gymnasium. This will allow you to work off an appetite for our next section…

Places to Eat: 

  • Joy Yee Noodles: For a true Asian gastronomic experience, Joy Yee is the place for you. Yes, they do have Chinese food but they also have Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian Japanese, and more! For this one, I would suggest splitting with your friends since the portions here are big and you are guaranteed leftovers. I would recommend trying the Beef Cubes with Tomato Java Rice; the Korean Chicken Chap-Chae or Short Ribs; Malaysian Fish Filet (which has bell peppers and basil); and a side order of their refreshing Japanese Seaweed Salad. Make sure you make room for dessert. Joy Yee is also known for their tapioca drinks that come with a wide variety of unique and tasty fruit. For this I recommend the mango, coconut, or if you are more adventurous, avocado! To check out their other locations and menu, check this link: (
  • MingHin Cuisine: Are you looking for a restaurant that is slightly more authentic with your Chinese experience? Are you seeking for quality Dim Sum? Welcome to MingHin Cuisine! While the restaurant does not bring their food on carts anymore they do ensure that their food is freshly steamed and ready for your consumption. As with Joy Yee, eating with a bigger group is more fun and enjoyable, especially with this amount of food. This way you can try different dishes and always try more of what you enjoy eating. Here are my suggestions if this is your first time eating Dim Sum. I recommend getting their Siu Mai (a pork and shrimp dumpling), Pan Fried Pork and Vegetable Bun, and either their pork belly or roast duck. If you want more information on their menu and how to get there be sure to check this link: ( and ( to plan your next meal! If you are still hungry and want more, check the next for dessert.
  • Saint Anna Bakery and Cafe: Seeking traditional Hong Kong pastries for the Lunar festival or just want to shove your mouth with savory pastries? Saint Anna is for you! A word of advice: Chinese pastries are not like American pastries as in they are not really sweet. Many of these pastries are more savory in nature and do not have as much sugar, butter, or any other sweetener. Here are some suggestions that I think you would enjoy. First is their egg tart. The egg tarts are an excellent custard surrounded by a soft and flaky crust that just melts in your mouth. If this isn’t perfection, I don’t know what is. They are also known for their sesame balls with red beans inside. These are airy sesame balls are super tasty with a stick rice exterior and a soft bean interior. Trust me on this one, they are delicious and delectable. For both of these desserts, you simply cannot just have one, or two, or three! A true excellent place for to round out your food trip/adventure/experience here in Chinatown. For more information and reviews check out the link. (

Still hungry and looking for more? Be sure to tune in the week of October 24th as we go an explore Jackson and State on this edition of Explore Chicago CTA Edition. Doors closing.

Seeking more information, use this link to find suggestions for restaurants, hang out places, and more: ( 

Explore Chicago CTA Edition

Explore Chicago CTA Edition

This is Loyola. Doors open on the left at Loyola. Welcome aboard the CTA Red Line. For this school year, 2017-2018, I want to take all of you on a journey on the CTA Red Line. For those of you not from Chicago or familiar with the CTA, I am going to give you a quick history of the Chicago Transit Authority, specifically, the Chicago “L”.

Fun Facts and Quick Statistics:

  • The CTA system is the second busiest transit system and the fourth longest system in the United States. It is also the second oldest mass rapid transit system in North and South America, after the one in New York City.
  • The El itself is over 102.8 miles long with over 8 differently colored lines (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and pink line trains) with over 145 stations
  • On a typical weekday (Monday-Friday), over 752,734 passengers ride on the El
  • The oldest part of the El system commenced service in 1892
  • The CTA’s Blue and Red line are two of the five lines in the United States that offer 24 hour services at all times
  • There are several ethnic neighborhoods that surround the El lines: Pilsen (Hispanic neighborhood), Argyle (Little Vietnam), Devon (a mix of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Jewish neighborhoods) Chinatown, Ukrainian Village, Greek Town and more!

What do I need?:

  • All you need is your Ventra Card (which operates through the academic school year) to scan into CTA El stations and CTA buses)

What Am I Going to do to Help You?:

  • Every other week, starting on October 10th (next week), I will be taking you on a CTA trip up the Red Line. At each stop, I will share with you some popular restaurants, attractions, bookstores, boutiques, and so much more! Here is the stops that I will be taking during our trip:
  • October 10: Cermak-Chinatown
  • October 24: Jackson and State
  • November 7: Lake
  • November 28: Chicago and State
  • January 23: Fullerton
  • February 6: Belmont
  • February 20: Addison
  • March 13: Argyle
  • March 27: Granville
  • April 10: Morse
  • April 24: Howard

So welcome aboard the CTA Red Line and welcome to Chicago! 

Loyola’s Family Weekend 2017

Loyola’s Family Weekend 2017

College is not just an adjustment for the student, it is also an adjustment for parents/guardians and siblings. Maybe, you have not seen your parents in the first few weeks of school and they are wondering how you are doing and adjusting to college life. To help give parents peace of mind and to help allow students have a chance to relax and show off how great Loyola is, we have Family Weekend! This three day event is full of activities, bonding experiences, and meeting new faces.


Although online registration is now closed, you are more than welcome to register on-site. Be sure to check pricing for more details. (

Summary of the Weekend’s Agenda:

On Friday: Be sure to join other members of the Rambler family over light snacks and drinks at the Welcome Reception! Afterwards, join as we cheer on the women’s volleyball team as they take on Drake University. We need your Rambler spirit and energy! Wrap up the fun night with a fun family movie night. At 8 and 10pm, at the Damen Cinema, DOP (Department of Programming) is having a showing of Disney’s Moana. Relive these childhood moments with some free popcorn and family bonding time!

On Saturday: Start the morning right with a cup of joe and/or some hot tea with the Jesuits! Also in the morning is the reception for multi-cultural students, LGBTQIA students, and first generation students with their parents. Here, you will be able to meet and greet other peers. Other fun activities you might be interested include rock climbing at the Halas Sports Center, exploring the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago’s South Side Screening, and more! Be sure to stick around the rest of the night since Second City is coming to Loyola! Have a night of good fun and laughs!

On Sunday: Join us for mass at either Loyola’s main chapel at Madonna de la Strada at the Lakeshore Campus or St James Chapel at the Water Tower Campus! After mass, enjoy a lovely brunch!

For more information:

The Make-It or Break-It Factor for College

The Make-It or Break-It Factor for College



Simply that. 

Tuition costs. Room and board costs. Dining plan costs. Textbook and supply costs.

It really does not matter what specific college (let alone Loyola) you choose to look into, money will always be the biggest factor in deciding what college to attend. Nationwide, higher education has become more expensive and has made it more challenging for people to do due to financial costs. For those like my family, who are either working families, minority, low-income, or who have first-generation children, getting a bachelors diploma can be a challenge or struggle for monetary reasons.

On top of that, if you live in Illinois, you may know of the MAP grant suspension in Springfield, Illinois. The MAP Grant is awarded to Illinois residents for higher education and to those who demonstrate financial need. For a couple years now, Loyola students have rallied down in Springfield to rally for MAP grant to be re-funded and we have worked hard for some action to be done.


Obviously, I write with the intention to HELP you guys be aware of things (that have helped me) keep costs down:

  1. Do the FAFSA. This will help you get federal assistance. Especially if you are listed as dependent and depending on how many people live in your household, that will reflect how much aid you can potentially receive. Advice: Do it IMMEDIATELY when FAFSA becomes available. First come first serve. You will receive priority (which has helped me in many personal cases). 
  2. Do FEDERAL WORK STUDY. Needless to say, this keeps costs down because you earn money to help pay for your education.
  3. SUBSIDIZED LOANS. Subsidized loans do not include interest as long as you are in school UN-subsidized loans include interest. With that being said, it is safe to take out the subsidized loan because you pay what you owe- straightforward. The value of the loan will depend on your income. Personally, I initially thought that loans were something scary and to avoid, but after understanding more about loans, I can give you my advice and reassure you that a loan is not so bad. Higher education is something people should really strive to get because it can only benefit you; you can pay off the loan when you get that high paying job (thanks to the college diploma)!
  4. DO WELL IN YOUR ACADEMICS (in high school). Most definitely if you get good grades, you will surely get get impressions from your teacher which can help you get a fantastic recommendation letter. When you get your acceptance letter, you will see what Loyola academic scholarship you will be awarded (if you do apply), and that initial scholarship will be a reflection of your high school academic scores.
  5. IF YOU GO TO A CATHOLIC SCHOOL within the Archdiocese of Chicago or the Diocese of Joliet, hooray, you automatically get a financial award. (Don’t I sound like Oprah giving free stuff?!) 
  6. DON’T MIND COMMUTING TO SCHOOL? You save the most money. Not only do you not pay for room and board fees, but dining plans and more. I have mentioned this in other blogs. I’m sure you guys don’t want me to repeat this here.
  7. If something happened in your family that significantly impacted your income, whether if it is your parents who are divorced, there is a loss of benefit from your parent’s work, loss of one-time income, siblings who also attend private, Catholic school, or other circumstances, you may be eligible to fill out the SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE APPEAL. This may help bring costs even further down, but it is not guaranteed until the LUC Financial Office can thoroughly assess the situation.
  8. EXTERNAL SCHOLARSHIPS. Personally, I have done countless applications for this. Especially at the end of my senior year of high school, I looked everywhere and signed up for everything. You must understand that external scholarships mean that potentially anyone and everyone may apply, which might not be in your favor (you may have less chances). The people that will select the winner of the scholarship will most likely look for the best person who fits their category, so you obviously have to meet specific qualifications.
  9. RAMEN DIET isn’t bad during your undergraduate years. Okay, this may be humorous, but I think it is true. Ramen is cheap; no question about that. I get my ramen from the Asian supermarket off of Argyle (only a couple of train stops away from Loyola), where each package only costs cents! There’s a variety of delicious flavors and noodle styles that are not that bad. Plus, it is so quick to boil hot water and make a hot meal.
  10. BE SMART ABOUT YOUR MONEY. Prioritize your money. Where can you money be spent on the best? Can you save money? I have a savings account at my bank and I try to have a commitment to put a certain percentage of my earnings to my savings account. Hopefully when I need to pay off my loans (or anything), I have a good amount saved up to successfully pay it off.

Okay guys! These are my own ideas on how you can potentially save money to make the make-it or break-it factor to affording college. I am sure there are other ways to save money (those of which I do not know of, or it has not come to my mind when writing this post), so keep asking around and start to get familiar with college and college finance!

To end this post on an interesting [and humorous] note, I present to you this food pyramid (note that Ramen is toward the bottom of the pyramid and is the closest thing to Free food).


Best of Chicago: Doughnut Shops

Best of Chicago: Doughnut Shops

Whether you enjoy an original glazed doughnut or one that can be dipped in a hot, steaming cup of coffee. Or, if you like your doughnut with sprinkles or jelly filled, there are several speciality doughnut shops around the city of Chicago. So, if you are in the need of a quick meal for breakfast or a snack to go, be sure to check out these sweet and savory places.

Stan’s Donuts & Coffee: (locations found in Wicker Park, Boystown, Lincoln Park, and close to the Water Tower Campus-River North area) This doughnut shop is filled with various kinds of simple and classical doughnuts to more speciality and high end doughnuts, depending on your taste. I would recommend getting their original glazed doughnut, which is a classic and a cup of hot Earl Grey tea (or coffee if you prefer). Some of their high end doughnuts include: pistachio glazed, beignet pair, and lemon curd, just to name a few. Unlike other doughnut shops, Stan’s selection also has bagels, gelato, and other different types of pastries. And, for that special someone (or if you really want to treat yourself), there is the doughnut cake which can be filled with Bischoff, peanut butter, or Nutella. ( 

Glazed and Infused: (locations found in West Loop, Lincoln Park, River North, Streeterville, and The Loop) While the restaurant does not have as many options as Stan’s, Glazed has several unique combinations added onto their doughnuts. Whether you crave the original doughnut or a Maple Bacon Long John (that actually has a piece of bacon on it making it the perfect combination of sweet and salty) or a Key Lime Pistachio (tart and nutty) doughnut, you never know what you will find. But, if you want try something truly unique I would recommend their Fondue for Two (perfect for Valentine’s Day coming up). With this dessert, be prepared for three dozen doughnut holes, dipping creme/frosting and sprinkles to top. To wash down this sugar rush, there is coffee on hand (or Naked juice if you want to feel less guilty). (   

If you want more suggestions on where you can go for your doughnut adventure be sure to check out: ( 


Best of Chicago: Dessert and Pastry Shops

Best of Chicago: Dessert and Pastry Shops

Let’s admit it, when you have got a sweet tooth, you need to satisfy your craving. From savory carrot cake to traditional churros con chocolate to macarons that come in an array of colors; there is a dessert place for everyone. Whether you are the one to share with friends or indulge by yourself, here are some of Chicago’s best dessert and pastry shops to go out and explore.

1) The Goddess and the Baker (Downtown locations include: Wabash, Navy Pier, and Wacker & LaSalle) Whether you are in a sweet or a savory mood, this place has something for everyone. When you are there I would recommend the carrot cake with the perfect proportion of cream cheese frosting, crushed walnuts, and guaranteed moist cake. With Chicago’s unpredictable weather, this restaurant comes in clutch with a variety of hot chocolate, coffee, and tea drinks to satisfy your cold hands and warm you to your belly. I would personally recommend either the Goddess Almond Joy Frappe (which tastes like you are drinking an Almond Joy bar) or the Rishi Marsala Chai Latte (the perfect combination of spice, cream, and quality tea). Depending on your food mood: breakfast, lunch, and dinner is also served. (

2) Xoco (location: Clark Street) From world renowned chef Rick Bayless, Xoco is the place for torta, guacamole, and churros alike. But, for me, the dessert is the best part of this culinary experience. There churros are freshly fried with just the right crunch on the outside and softness in the inside. However, no churro is complete with its counterpart, authentic Mexican hot chocolate. For those who enjoy a more traditional, more bitter taste (like eating a dark chocolate bar), I would recommend getting the authentic. Those of you who would enjoy a creamier, fuller taste, I would recommend the classic (which has milk instead of water). If you are not into churros or want something additional to sink your teeth into, I would recommend their seasonal tres leches (a variation on a three milk cake) or their xocoflan (chocolate cake with a traditional Mexican vanilla egg custard on top). (

3) Vanille Patisseries (locations include: Lincoln Park, French Market @ Ogilvie Station, Lakeview) If you want to have a gastronomic splurge, this is the place for you. Compared to the other places on this list, Vanille is an upper-scale dessert/pastry shop. Each pastry is small but decadent and is to savored with every bite. However, unlike most places, the dessert here is sweet but not overtly sweet. Some pastries I would recommend while you are here: a full bodied tiramisu and manjari (a flourless chocolate cake). Each of these would pair nicely with a hot cup of their signature teas. I would save this place to go on special occasions. (



Want a Break From Classes? Time to Get in the Christmas Spirit!

Want a Break From Classes? Time to Get in the Christmas Spirit!

If you’re anything like me and you’re stressing about class registration and exams, you’re looking for a break to not think about classes at all. Chicago has that fix for everyone before–and after–Thanksgiving Break: Christkindlmarket! Running every day from this weekend, November 18th, to December 24th.

The Christkindlmarket has been a Chicago tradition since 1996, with its design inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. Boasting both local and international German vendors, besides trinkets, Christmas ornaments, and wooden clocks, it’s a hotbed of traditional German culture, food, and spirits.

With choirs singing Christmas songs as well as a traditional German brass band (depending on which day you attend), there’s never a gloomy day, even when the polar vortex rolls through. If food is what you’re looking through, there’s a number of European sweets, chocolates, and pastries, famed gingerbread (which is easily one of my favorites), to Bratwurst, soft pretzels, potato pancakes, crepes, and sauerkraut. Hot chocolate, cider, and beer (If you’re 21+), flows from every food vendor like a waterfall.

With admission being free, it’s great for college students, and definitely where every Chicagoan can come together and celebrate holiday cheer, no matter who they are.

If you’re looking for Christmas cheer and a good time with a couple friends (or a special someone), it can easily be a great place to spend a couple hours browsing all the shops, snacking on a brat-burger, and making some great memories.

Christkindlmarket runs every day from Nov. 18th to Dec. 24th, on the Daley Plaza (Exit at State/Lake on the Red Line, walk south to Washington St., then walk west (headed away from Macy’s), and you’ll run into it in just a couple blocks!) The market opens daily at 11 am, closes at 8 pm Sunday-Thursday, then at 9 pm Friday and Saturday. See you there!

Chicago Eats: Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago Eats: Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza

With an inch loaded with gooey mozzarella cheese, packed with numerous toppings that can include veggies or all meat, and topped with a chunky tomato sauce; Chicago’s deep dish pizza is without rival (sorry New York). Within Chicago, numerous restaurants claim to have the best pizza in the Second City, however, I believe that the top three are: Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Gino’s East. Regardless of which one you think is the tastiest, all of these pizza joints are definitely worth a try. Since these pizzas are huge, I would highly recommend bringing an appetite and friends to help you attempt to finish. Just a tip: These types of pizzas usually take a while to prepare, I suggest preordering ahead (at least 45 minutes to an hour advance, when it is just fresh out of the oven.)

  1. Giordano’s: With a location both near the Loyola Lakeshore Campus and the Water Tower Campus, this restaurant is conveniently located and fairly priced, making it the perfect place for friends to hang out and relax. If you are a meat lover, look no further: an option for you would be the “meat and more meat” pizza stuffed with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon, salami and on top more crispy and crunchy bacon pieces. If you are vegetarian, no fears! The stuffed vegetarian pizza is equally as tasty with a range of veggies: spinach, green peppers, grilled onions, olives, mushrooms, and broccoli. For more pizza combinations and suggestions go on: (for more information).
  2. Lou Malnati’s: Two words: Buttered Crust! Of all of Chicago’s pizza restaurants, Lou Malnati’s delivers buttery, crispy crust goodness. With a comfortable price and atmosphere, the restaurant is truly welcoming to students. Two pizzas I would suggest for you to try would be the Malnati Chicago Classic and the The Lou. In the Chicago Classic, lean sausage is packed into extra gooey cheese, with its signature delectable butter crust. On The Lou pizza, the restaurant’s signature dish, vegetarian delight is an understatement. With spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes, and a blend of three creamy cheeses of mozzarella, Romano, and cheddar and finished off with a buttery garlic crust, this pizza is a hit! With locations near DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus and one near the Water Tower campus, the restaurant is just as easily accessible.
  3. Gino’s East: With a thick ‘level’ of melted cheese at the bottom of chunky tomato sauce, how can you go wrong? Like its competitors, this joint has a meat lover’s pizza with its Meaty Legend dubbed the “carnivore’s dream” and rightly so: pounds of pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian Bacon, and of course crispy bacon. Unique to Gino’s is an especially “hot” dish with the The Chicago Fire. Within this baked goodness, spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, red onions, and or course jalapenos. With locations near Lakeview and the Water Tower campus, this restaurant allows you to explore vibrant neighborhoods that you may have otherwise bypass. For more information:    

deep dish

Chicago & Vietnamese Cuisine

Chicago & Vietnamese Cuisine


Who doesn’t love food? Almost everyone enjoys trying out new, ethnic food and here in our lovely city of Chicago, there are so many interesting restaurants at every street and corner with Zagat reviews, Grubhub options, etc. I can assure you that you will have an adventure of a lifetime and make your taste buds travel around the world in style. 

Specifically, I will be blogging on Vietnamese food because Viet-Town is only 4 train stops away from Loyola’s Lakeshore campus and because if you didn’t know already, I am Vietnamese.


Getting off of the Argyle train station, you will be immediately see Vietnamese supermarkets and small restaurants such as Viet Hoa Plaza, Cafe Hoang, Uptown Pho, Pho Xe Lua, Nha Hang Hai Yen, Pho 777, Hoa Nam, Lucks Food, Vinh Phat Express,  Pho Loan, Chi Quon Bakery, Hong Xuong Bakery, and Pho Xe Tang, just to name a few (all located on 1 street). Although you probably do not understand the names of these places, at least one word should stick out to you: Pho!pho-au-fois-gras-32330


Pho (pronounced: fuh?) is one of the most famous dishes that even non-Vietnamese people usually know about and/or have tried it out. Pho is a delicious noodle soup with an aromatic broth, topped off with meatballs, beef brisket, green onions,  with as dash of Sriracha sauce (optional) and Hoisin sauce (optional). (Man, I sound like a chef!). This soup dish is very popular among everyone and if you haven’t tried it out, GO TRY SOME PHO SOON!


Turning on left on Argyle, you will encounter many other Viet stores. Tai Nam, largest Viet supermarket in Chicago is located here as well. We have salons, nail/beauty stores, insurance offices, video stores, and so much more. The places are: Ba Le, Pho Viet, Le’s Pho, Kung Fu Tea (not Viet I know), Furama Restaurant, Thuong Xa My A, Lee Nail Supply, Silver Seafood, etc. 


Ba Le (Nhu Lan and St. Henry (Pho May)) are well-known Viet places (French influenced) where you can get Banh Mi. This term is something non-Viets should also be familiar with. Banh mi is basically a sandwich that uses fresh baked french baguette and in the interior, include pate, a variety of meat slices, pickled carrots and daikon, and a selection of fresh herbs like cilantro. It is a delectable lunchtime snack that will satisfy your taste buds.

(Advice: I recommend visiting St. Henry for banh mi first!)


Of course not all Viet stores are agglomerated in one place. There are other good places for Viet food too such as Nhu Lan (located on Western), Hoang Long (located on Lincoln),  and Pho Nam Lua (located on McCormick Blvd). I highly recommend Pho Nam Lua; they just opened and they have the best food and the best price (as a college student, “best price” is really what I mean!)


Anyways, let’s talk Vietnamese Cuisine!

So you now know what pho and banh mi are, but that’s just the basics of Viet food compatible for a first-time Viet-food eater. Let’s go further and get to the good stuff.

Goi Cuon! (Spring rolls!) Goi cuon is a favorite of mine because it is a very clean, simple dish with an assortment of herbs, cooked pork belly slices, shrimp, and dipped in a tasty sauce! At home, it is fun to make. Ingredients are laid out on the table and you get to make your own spring roll to eat.


Banh trang nuong! (Rice paper with toppings!) As far as I can tell, this is a new type of Viet dish that is the healthier, Vietnamese equivalent to American pizza. Personally, I have never tried this before, but my friends have and they like this a lot!

maxresdefault (1)banh-trang-nuong-ngon

Bun Bo Hue! (Beef noodle soup!) Similar to pho, Bun Bo Hue consists of vermicelli noodles, beef shank & brisket , agglomerated pig’s blood,  lemongrass, and other spices. The broth has a little spice in it and has a smooth, clean texture. It is also very aromatic as well!


Banh Xeo! (Vietnamese pancake/crepes!) Banh Xeo looks exactly like a fancy omelette, however, there are no eggs! Just like pancakes, banh xeo is made from batter and fried on a pan. Toppings are added on such as shrimp, meat, and green onion. To finish it off, we can add mint, lettuce, bean sprouts, and other fresh herbs! When eaten, you dip the banh xeo into some fish sauce to enhance the flavor.


Banh Chung/Banh Tet (Lunar New Year Cakes)! These cakes are eaten traditionally during the lunar new year season (January-February). They consist of layers of pork belly, surrounded by mung-bean paste and a special type of rice. The whole thing is wrapped together in banana leaves and boiled in water for a long period of time. Banh chung/banh tet is commonly eaten with pickled carrots and daikon too!

(St.Henry makes good banh chung/banh tet!)

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Ca Phe Sua Da! (Vietnamese Coffee!) This coffee is made special using sweet condensed milk. It is good as a hot beverage, but many people I know enjoy the iced-coffee version. It is a tad bit stronger than American style coffee, but it does its job to keep you awake and active during the day!

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Hopefully this post was appealing to read and maybe made you salivate once or twice. Vietnamese food is good and Chicago is a wonderful city to explore and eat well! Give Viet food a try!