The Argyle Red Line stop is a northside hub for lots of different Asian cuisines, especially for Vietnamese grub (rhyme!). While Tank Noodle gets most of the praise and foot traffic and Ba Le gets (well-deserved) praise heaped on for its bánh mì sandwiches, there are tons of places that go unexplored.
While the namesake dish at Pho 888 is definitely worth a look, it also offers a great version of the Vietnamese sandwich. The grilled beef bánh mì ($3.50) is a powerfully subtle meal, where all of the ingredients are seasoned only enough to bring the flavors together. The beef is a bit chewy, but the slight spicy sweetness of its marinade adds just enough flavor to highlight the meat. The pickled carrots and daikons add acidity to counter the savoriness of the beef, plus a nice crunch. A few slivers of jalapeño tie it all together, leaving a burn on your tongue for a few seconds after the other flavors subside. All of this sits on a baguette with just enough crust to give some chewiness, while still remaining soft inside.
If you're looking for a culinary kick in the teeth, this may not be your sandwich. But sometimes the taste buds need a delicate touch instead, and it's hard to find a better caress for $3.50.
1137 W Argyle St, Chicago, IL (map)
About the author: Nathan Lurz is an intern at Serious Eats Chicago. When he's not reviewing the occasional sammich, he spends his time trying to convince people to pay him to be a journalist and being amazed he is a professional sandwich reviewer. Follow his wittiness on Twitter at @LurzBlurbz