Red bean buns from La Patisserie P (at left) and Sun Wah BBQ's whole… (Chicago Tribune )
Step off the Red Line at Argyle, and though you're only eight miles from downtown, it feels a world away. Tucked under Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese language signs, some of the most authentic Asian restaurants in the city serve flavorful eats at budget prices. Grab a hungry friend to serve as your dining accomplice and hit up these three tried-and-true favorites in Uptown.
FIRST: La Patisserie P (1052 W. Argyle St. 773-878-3226)
Pastry master Peter Yuen has racked up prestigious international pastry awards, but his Vietnamese bakery is charmingly unpretentious. Fresh-baked red bean buns (95 cents) pull apart to reveal a soft, sweet filling, and his super-flaky croissants ($1.95) are some of the best in the city.
NEXT: Tank Noodle (4953 N. Broadway. 773-878-2253)
Stop for a quick bowl of noodles at Tank, where a small army of servers scurry around a packed dining room full of families. The giant menu can be intimidating, but newbies need only know one word: pho. The savory, clear Vietnamese broth is served with whichever meats you'd like, plus add-your-own basil leaves, bamboo shoots and chili paste for an extra kick ($6.95-$8.95).
LAST: Sun Wah BBQ (5039 N. Broadway. 773-769-1254)
Save room for the lacquered rainbow of Chinese barbecued meats at Sun Wah. Regulars know to call ahead for the off-menu Beijing duck dinner, a three-course smorgasbord of whole duck carved table side, served with soup and rice ($37). The crispy ducks hanging prominently in the window could seem off-putting, but they're just portents of the feast to come.
Kate Bernot is a RedEye special contributor. firstname.lastname@example.org.