Looking more like a Buddhist shrine than an L station (a red pagoda tops the platform), the Argyle stop is pretty hard to miss. And though this virtual Little Vietnam comes filled with Vietnamese/Chinese shops, restaurants and bakeries, don't be restricted by what immediately meets the eye. Just a few blocks west of the station sits the south end of Andersonville, which holds a row of trendy bars, shops, theaters and restaurants. So get off the L, enjoy the splendor of Little Vietnam and then take it west...where more of Argyle's hidden gems await.
Best of the nightlife
Think of T's as a neighborhood bar in a gay neighborhood, frequented by the gay/lesbian crowd but also frequented by other bar-minded individuals in the area. And there you have it. A "neighborhood bar for everyone" as they call it. Late on the weekends the volume rises here as it turns into a laid-back nightclub for grown-ups. You'll also enjoy their drink specials such as a "double pint" of draft beer for $7.
The front room is full of those high tables and stools and the back room contains another bar, a Golden Tee, a pool table and some virtually unusable dart boards. In the back, sofas and overstuffed chairs also make for a relaxing evening or set the stage for an intense rountable discussion on various prevailing issues.
Good for groups
Want to get your dim sum on? Do it the right way: with a few drinks, a great group of friends and excessive amounts of food. From the worn-in Asian ambience to the steaming carts of food that roll to your table, Furama is the ideal place to indulge in Chinese dim sum, entrees and more.
With a hundred variations of chicken, beef, tofu and seafood dishes, the menu's entrees are quite delicious (the cashew chicken is particularly tasty) but aren't the reason to come. Nope, at Furama you need to dim sum it up. Start by ordering a pot of tea for your table then spend some serious time debating about which dim sum dishes to order. You've got your spring rolls, egg rolls, pot stickers, crab Rangoon, shrimp toast and more, so choose wisely. The staff will wheel out your selections, along with bowls of rice, to your table, and so the feast begins. The tea may start losing its steam at this point, providing an excellent excuse to switch to cocktails selected from Furama's enormous drink menu or mixed drinks, beer and Japanese wine. Eat, drink and don't forget to share with your friends.
So the location is weird, the prices are questionably low and, admit it, the name gives you the giggles; but forget all that and give Dong Ky a try. It's unbelievably fresh, delicious, and oh yes, cheap as heck. Located practically inside the Broadway Supermarket (same entrance and everything), Dong Ky's Vietnam/Chinese restaurant is just a bunch of tables thrown into a small room. But open your menu and drool over the tasty dishes and rock-bottom prices. The soups, orange chicken and the complimentary hot tea are particularly good.
Veggie lovers will go crazy over the tofu crepe, which is awesomely huge and filled with broccoli, bean sprouts and tofu, served with a syrup-like sauce. Or go crazy over the huge variety of appetizers, fried rice, chop suey, house specialties, bubble teas and noodle, vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes. Low cost aside, the best thing about Dong Ky is the unbelievable freshness, which could have something to do with its in-grocery-store locale.
Where to chill
An upbeat spot that's as big on portions as it is on taste, Tweet sits next door to Big Chicks, which the boisterous Michelle Fire also owns. Unlike its sister spot, Tweet lacks the paintings of naked ladies on the walls, but it shares the same vibe. A quirky layout tucks tables into semi-private alcoves and bird drawings adorn its menu.
The food emphasizes locally grown, organic ingredients, from cage-free Amish eggs and organic yogurt to a vegan burrito filled with organic black beans, rice and tofu. Even the biscuits and gravy get local with Amish sausage from farms in Michigan and Indiana. Tweet's community-centric conscience doesn't stop at its menu selections, though. On the first and third Tuesday of every month, it hosts an event for local and national gay and lesbian performers.
La Patisserie P
La Patisserie is Argyle's best way to jump-start your morning. La Patisserie P owner and professional pastry chef Peter Yuen puts a huge amount of effort and pride into his work. Not only are the croissants made to meticulous perfection (crispy and flaky on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside): They also share counter space with a beautiful assortment of French, Vietnamese and American pastries.
While the French selection of tarts, eclairs, cream puffs and cakes is mouthwatering, don't be afraid to sample some traditional Vietnamese pastries. Yes, lotus bean paste cake sounds strange, but it's actually quite delicious: A flaky bun sprinkled with raw sugar cane and filled with a nutty-tasting paste, it's very Fig Newton-like. You can also try the best-selling red bean fried cake or, if you're feeling less than adventurous, choose an American-style cookie or cupcake. It's best to drop in, grab an espresso, pick up your favorite pastry (or a killer croissant) and get your day started the right way: loaded-up on caffeine and sugar.