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 sandwiches at Ng Cafe are smaller and more compact than some of the others we’ve had in town, with a generous layer of pate and house-made mayo. But the bread really brings it all together—a toasted, house-made French baguette with a crispy exterior and a soft center. We’re big fans of the classic here, with Asian ham and pork head cheese, but the shredded pork skin version is a close second favorite.
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. We like to get the pork belly or pork shoulder banh mi here, but you can also get the classic with cold cuts, chicken, beef, or tofu.
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The baguettes at Pho Van are small, with pointy tips that feel like little torpedoes—it helps with aerodynamics when you’re trying to launch these at your face as quickly as possible. Our go-to here is the grilled pork banh mi, packed full of smoky, savory chunks of char-grilled pork, and doused in just enough of a semi-sweet glaze to keep the whole sandwich incredibly juicy.
We usually go with the grilled pork banh mi at Saigon Le Vendeur, in which the pork is cut fairly thick, so each piece is crispy on the outside with a juicy interior. But you can also keep it classic with the cold-cut and pate version. A few years back they opened a sister restaurant Le Bleu, near 183 and Burnet, and from our experiences, the banh mi at the two were nearly identical—a big plus when there’s not much to improve on.
Pho Phong Lu'u might be best known for their pho, but they also make some great sandwiches. There’s only one meat option—with cold cuts and pate—served warm, with crusty bread, a generous portion of meat, and enough pate to make its presence known in every bite. And, of course, plenty of pickled veggies to balance it all together.
Baguette House has been serving quality banh mi in Austin’s Chinatown for years. They have a variety of traditional options, from the cold-cut classic—made with house-made mayonnaise and pickled vegetables, pate, cilantro, and jalapeño—to the super-savory grilled pork. We can’t really pick a favorite, but at around $6 each, you can probably grab a couple and save one for later.
The banh mi at Pho Please might be our winner in the bargain category, based on size alone. The sandwiches here are big enough to fill us up for a couple of meals. The bread tends to be a little softer and sweeter than other baguettes in town, but no less tasty. And 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. If you happen to live closer to campus, they have a sister location, Sip Pho, where you can get the same great sandwiches.
The bread at Kuway’s is made in-house (in-trailer?), meaning it’s just as fresh as the cilantro spilling out of your banh mi. There are a lot of options when it comes to protein choices here—grilled beef, shrimp, chicken, or pork, or fried tofu—and you can’t really go wrong with any, but you can go especially right with the grilled beef or grilled pork.
We’re fans of the Banh Mi Dac Biet at Lily’s—aka the Lily Gourmet sandwich—which has a bunch of different cold cuts, including head cheese, roast pork, ham, and pate. The baguette is crisp on the outside and tender in the middle, but still slightly dense. At around $6, it’s one of the more filling banh mi we’ve had. If you order one to go, they’ll offer to pack the vegetables separately so the sandwich doesn’t get soggy.
The banh mi at Fil N’ Viet veers a bit from the conventional. There are two options—lemongrass chicken and crispy sisig—that bring together Filipino and Vietnamese influences to make unique and really delicious sandwiches. Our favorite is the sisig—a crispy blend of grilled pork face and belly—it’s rich, with a great balance of smooth and crunchy textures that play together especially well on a fresh-baked baguette.
Banh Mi Galang doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside you’ll find a menu of banh mi about as classic as they come. And while you can get tasty versions of grilled pork, beef, and shrimp, it’s the Combo Sandwich you should be ordering here. It’s packed with Vietnamese pork, pate, and head cheese, with just the right amount of fatty bits to balance out each bite.
Tam Deli is probably most well known for their banh mi served on crisp yet doughy homemade baguette. There are a lot of tasty options for banh mi fillings, including fried butter garlic shrimp and chargrilled pork. Our go-to is the #10 combination sandwich that brings together paté, roast pork, and roasted chicken alongside mayonnaise and banh mi vegetables, making for a very delicious ersatz-Vietnamese chicken salad sandwich.