The banh mi is a sandwich, and perhaps the greatest sandwich of them all. And lucky for you, you’re never a far walk or drive away from a great one. Here are our favorite spots to get one right now.
No San Francisco banh mi list is complete without Saigon Sandwich. They make the best banh mi in the city, which is what keeps us coming back again and again. The bread is lightly crispy on the outside, and soft in the center. And the ratio of pickled carrots to mayo to spiciness is true perfection. Our favorite banh mi spot is located just outside of Little Saigon in the Tenderloin, and is cash-only. We like getting the juicy roasted pork version there, but they also have tofu, chicken, and a special combo with ham, pork, and pate.
Cafe Bunn Mi is located in the Inner Richmond and specializes not only in banh mi, but vermicelli and pho, too. But what makes this sandwich/soup spot so great is the crispy duck sandwich. An extra thick duck cutlet is fried then smothered in a house-made aioli and coleslaw. Eating this one will get pleasantly messy. Cafe Bunn Mi also makes a great lemongrass steak, which goes great with their Vietnamese iced coffee.
The first thing you’ll notice about the banh mi at L&G is that they’re generously stuffed with pickled carrots and daikon. Seriously, these compact sandwiches are thick. They also come with a heavy layer of mayo, which may or may not be to everyone’s liking. On a recent visit to this Tenderloin spot, we tried the marinated tofu. It was juicy and herby, and the sandwich was an all-around winner.
Dinosaurs is located in the Castro underneath a gym (you can access the entrance from Market or 16th Street). What sets them apart is their bread - it’s a thicker roll with a nicely toasted crust, and a soft center. The sandwich is big, too. We usually go for the grilled chicken or crispy tofu, but you can also keep it classic with the roasted pork and pate. If you’re not in the Castro, Dinosaurs is also located in SoMa, Lakeside, and Pacifica.
You can’t really go wrong at this small, family-run banh mi spot on 6th Avenue in the Inner Richmond. They sell homemade pho, vermicelli bowls, and some of the most consistent and reliable banh mi in the city. You can get their sandwiches with pork, tofu, ham, or grilled chicken - all of which are served on airy bread with a flaky crust, and thick strips of cucumber and pickled carrot.
b&b in the Inner Sunset specializes in boba, but their banh mi is the real reason for coming here. For starters, they’re a great value considering their massive size. They do slow roasted pork belly, chicken, and fried tofu. But you’ll want the banh mi that comes with a generous serving of rich, tender bulgogi beef and served with a thick, creamy house-made gochujang aioli we now want on everything.