2016 Guide to Bánh Mì (Austin)

Updated guide here

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich that is served on French bread. You will find it filled with all kinds of protein like grilled pork, pâté, fried eggs, tofu, meatballs, and head cheese. It is normally dressed with cucumber slices, cilantro, jalapeños, and pickled carrots and daikon with Vietnamese mayonnaise. You can find last year's (2015) banh mi guide here. To prepare for this year's guide, I was a part of tasting panel that sampled bánh mì from seven different places. Read about it from Mad Betty and Foodie is the New Forty.

Now to the updated guide for this year...

Baguette House
10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753 | 8:30 AM-7 PM daily

Although the thịt nướng (grilled pork) is money here, there are a lot of great options on the menu. They use a French baguette so there is less bread with more crunch. Add a pâté chaud and a Vietnamese iced coffee to your order, and you will thank me later.

Bun Belly
5001 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 11 AM-2:30 PM, 5:30-10 PM daily

Bun Belly was on my list of places I needed to try. Doing the guide was a good opportunity to stop in. I ordered the BMT Classic - Banh Mi Thit which comes with pork liver pate, Vietnamese ham (pork roll), and pork belly. It had a good flavor from the meat. The only thing that was missing was mayo. It would have brought the sandwich together better. Keep in mind bánh mì is only available for lunch here.

Dang Bánh Mì
9070 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758 | 11 AM-9 PM daily

From the guys who brought us Plucker's comes a joint that brings us the Vietnamese classics. Pho, vermicelli, and bánh mì. They even went to Vietnam to learn from the source. I got the Dang Original bánh mì which has Char Siu pork belly, pork tenderloin, ground pork, homemade pâté, mint, cilantro, green onion, cucumber, Char Siu sauce, saté, Japanese mayo, and pickled papaya and carrots. It is not your typical bánh mì, but it is for sure a hearty sandwich. Use the Dang Sauce liberally. It is a cross between Sambal and Sriracha.

Elizabeth Street Cafe
1501 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704 | 8 AM-10:30 PM daily

Upscale Vietnamese cuisine? Sure, why not. The breakfast bánh mì changed my mind. The sandwich comes stuffed with jalapeño fried eggs, crispy pork belly, avocado, mint, house-made mayo, sambal, and cilantro. A tasty mouthful. I ordered the House Specialty (chicken liver mousse, pork pâté, and roasted pork) for lunch recently, and it was solid. 10 bucks though? My parents would frown on me for spending that on bánh mì.

Fresh Off the Truck
4209 East Airport Blvd, Austin,TX 78723 | Check their website for updated days and times

Lily's Sandwich
10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753 | 9 AM-9 PM daily

LiIy's is my favorite spot in Austin for xíu mại (Vietnamese meatballs). At $3.70, it is the one of the cheapest in town as well. I have yet to try the other things on the menu that are not bánh mì. That tells you something.

Lulu B's
3632 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 | 11 AM-4 PM Tue-Sat

My first place in Austin that I had bánh mì from was at Lulu B's. I thought it was expensive, but I did grow up in Houston where you could at the time find a sandwich for under two bucks. Lulu B's used to be a trailer on South Lamar, but now they have a brick and mortar location. I tried the lemongrass tofu on this visit, and it was a great change of pace.
8557 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758 | 10 AM-6 PM Tues-Sun

Now located in Lucky Bakery, I stumbled upon Ng BMT while doing research for last year's guide. Here, the bread makes the sandwich as it is baked fresh every day. It has a good amount of chew with a nice crust. The prices are very reasonable as well. The combo sandwich here consists of pâté, Vietnamese ham, and pork head cheese which is the golden standard for bánh mì. The Texas Trinity. Subway's Cold Cut Trio (but better). The Crispy Shrimp is also wonderful here.

Pho Please
1920 E Riverside Dr, Austin, TX 78741 | 11 AM-11 PM daily
They just opened up recently. I ordered the grilled pork belly and added a fried egg of course. The sandwich is huge. It was a foot long! I thought I was at Subway for a second. I made a mistake of ordering the grilled pork spring rolls. It was almost too much food to eat. It is another good option for me for lunch; being only a few miles from my office.

Pho Thaison
Multiple locations | Various hours - Check their website for details

Pho Van

8557 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758 | 10:30 AM-9 PM daily

I wonder now that Ng BMT is in the same parking lot, if Pho Van's bánh mì business would suffer. This was the first place in Austin where I had pho when I was a freshman at UT. I went away from my normal order and got the grilled chicken banh mi here. It had a good flavor and texture. The rest of the sandwich brought everything together.

Saigon Le Vendeur
2404 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702 | 11 AM-7PM Mon-Fri, 11 AM-5PM Sat

Saigon Le Vendeur is close to my work so I go here frequently. It is my new favorite and the winner of our bánh mì tasting. I am always stuffed when I am done eating there. I tried the spicy chicken recently. Nice heat and good, fresh flavors. Their specials look intriguing and amazing. Curry ramen. Say no more...

Tâm Deli & Cafe
8222 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753 | 10 AM-8 PM Wed-Mon

If there was THE bánh mì place in town, a lot of people would pick Tâm's. It is a solid pick. I ordered the combination sandwich that came with Vietnamese ham, pâté, and roasted chicken. I thought it was an odd choice for the third meat though. The pickled carrots were grated instead of being julienned which takes away some of the crunchiness. The rest of the menu is really strong and has a lot of options. Besides the classics, the bánh cuốn (steamed rice rolls) hits the spot every time.

Thanh Nhi
9200 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753 | 10 AM-9 PM daily

In my humble opinion, Thanh Nhi is underrated in the Vietnamese food scene. I have never had a bad item from their extensive menu. I got the xíu mại (pork meatball) on this visit, and it was good. All of their bánh mì cost $3.99 which is a great deal. When you go, order some nem nuong rolls. It is better than your traditional spring rolls.

Ya Ya Café
3706 Guadalupe Street, Suite B, Austin, TX 78705 | 11 AM-10:30 PM Tue-Sat


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