Subway: Blue to Jefferson Park(773) 628-7156 saigongrillchicago.com41.985613 -87.769705 5736 N Elston Ave (between Parkside and Major Aves) Jefferson Park, Chicago
Lunch, dinner (closed Sun)Average main course: $7
After several years of serving a Chinese New Year’s buffet for the customers of his dry-cleaning business, Sonny Tran has parlayed his background—Chinese descent, raised in Vietnam—into a restaurant menu comprised mostly of Americanized Chinese foods (egg foo young, chow mein) with some Vietnamese dishes thrown in (rice-paper spring rolls). Like the city’s ubiquitously mediocre Thai-sushi joints, neither side of the menu really sings, but our favorites were the hot-and-sour soup—with its chile paste-rich base and silky tofu cubes—and the banh xeo, an omelette-like “crepe” filled with shrimp and pork. Eat it like a lettuce wrap with the accompanying carrots and lots of fresh herbs: If you need a lesson, Tran is happy to oblige.