Vietnamese banh mi might just be the best sandwich. Fortunately, in Austin, you’re never more than a baguette’s throw - or a quick drive - away from a great one. Here are a few of our favorites that you can get right now. And please, don’t throw baguettes.
The first thing you might notice about the banh mi at The B’s Kitchen is the bread - it’s coated in an intense layer of microblisters that adds a really great texture to every bite, while the inside remains perfectly soft. They also make their own chili sauce, which packs a little heat and some extra roasted flavor. The B’s Kitchen operates out of a food truck in a gas station parking lot near Cesar Chavez and Chicon St. We like to get the pork belly or pork shoulder banh mi here, but you can also get fish, chicken, beef, or tofu.
Saigon Le Vendeur sells banh mi, vermicelli bowls, and other daily specials out of a converted shipping container near 7th and Pedernales. Their grilled pork is cut fairly thick, so each piece is crispy on the outside with a juicy interior. We usually go with the grilled pork or the pork patty banh mi here, but you can also keep it classic with the cold-cut and pate version. They also opened up a sister restaurant called Le Bleu a few years back (near 183 and Burnet) and from our brief experience, the banh mi at the two were nearly identical - a big plus when there’s not much to improve on.
The banh mi at Pho Please might be our winner in the bargain category, based on size alone - they’re big enough to fill us up for a couple of meals. We could eat their house-made mayo on just about anything, but it’s especially good on the lemongrass beef or the pork belly banh mi. However, tofu, shrimp, and chicken are also available. It’s located in the South Shore District, and as the name suggests, they also make a pretty good bowl of pho.
Long-time fans of banh mi in Austin might remember Ng BMT, one of our favorite sandwich shops in the city. They bounced around a few locations, and eventually closed back in 2016 for a few years before reopening as NG Cafe in North Austin, near Parmer and I-35. We visited recently and can happily say that it lives up to our fondest memories, transporting us to what we currently refer to as “the Before Times.” The sandwiches are smaller and more compact, with a generous layer of pate and house-made mayo. But the bread really brings it all together - a toasted baguette with a crispy exterior and soft center. We like to get the classic here, with Asian ham and pork head cheese, or the shredded pork skin version.
Van’s is a food truck in North Loop that specializes in “flame-grilled meats,” which means that everything here comes with a bit of char, in the best kind of way. They also bake their own bread daily and cook the meats to-order, so the sandwiches come out piping hot. They don’t have a parking lot, so finding a spot can be a little tricky around here, but once you settle in at one of the many picnic tables out front with your sandwich, you’ll realize it was worth a little walk. We usually go with the grilled pork banh mi here, but we also really like their beef and chicken sandwiches.