cà phê dá

a vietnamese all day café

Hidden in plain sight on an increasingly commercial block of W 18th in what used to be a residential and primarily Mexican neighborhood is a trendy Vietnamese cafe, Cà Phê Dá. A cafe by day and trendy casual dinner and drinks hang out spot by night, Cà Phê Dá defies expectations in many ways. It is an extension of the neighboring HaiSous, a sit-down restaurant with a more sophisticated Vietnamese dining experience, which for a while was a conspicuous representation of the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood among other upscale restaurants that popped up. Chef Thai Dang created Cà Phê Dá to be more of a community space where people can gather throughout the day, and in turn be more connected to the neighborhood it calls home.

The menu consists of primarily humble Vietnamese street food, with a selection of banh mi’s as well as noodle and rice dishes. The coffee drinks (using beans from a family roaster in Saigon) and sweets are decidedly traditional, with the entire menu leading with Vietnamese names, accompanied by English descriptions, something that is remarkable in the Chicago food scene. Cà Phê Dá is a unique addition not only to the neighborhood but also to the city, and well worth a detour to Pilsen for a little something different.

the details

Address1800 South Carpenter Street Entrance on, W 18th St, Chicago
HoursCOVID hours – 4-8pm Thursday – Sunday, closed Monday – Wednesday
Price$-$$ – everything is $10 or less, coffee is about on par with typical third wave coffee shops
Aestheticartfully natural (think: purposely unfinished surfaces, natural textures), modern, bright, inviting

good to know

Go here for: coffee and lunch or a cocktail and dinner

Order this: ca phe trung (egg custard coffee) – a Hanoi specialty that is a rare find in Chicago, chicken wings (their pride and joy)

Amount of time to spend: definitely more of a leisurely casual meal than a coffee-to-go kind of place

When to come: daytime for more of a peaceful environment, evening for more of a social atmosphere

Getting here: it’s not super convenient by subway, as it’s almost a mile from the 18th Street station (pink line). Better to go by bus (18 drops you off right at the corner) or by car (residential streets offer decent parking options) 

Other things to note: 

  • They morph from a cafe to bar ambience around 5pm each day.
  • There’s free wifi, and it’s a nice spot to work during the day (plus if you get hungry, you’re not limited to mediocre scones here)

Last visited: August 2019

Last updated: November 2020

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