Thien An Sandwiches in Midtown is a dependable spot for a quick lunch, basically Houston’s version of a Vietnamese diner. It’s the kind of no-nonsense, family-run place you immediately understand and feel comfortable in, even if you’ve never been in before.
One dish you’ll likely see on every table is the massive, golden bánh xèo, a wok-sized crepe stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts that comes with fish sauce for dunking. While it’s big enough to share, you can also tackle one alone if you have some feelings to work out. You should also order the gỏi vịt—a giant salad of tender roast duck, shredded cabbage, and ginger fish sauce. But the entire menu, from the bánh mì to the phở, is solid, and everything arrives fresh and fast. And even though the restaurant can get frenetic during the lunch rush, it remains one of the best quick, casual spots to go with coworkers or that one friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.
At a place called Thíên nh Sandwiches after all, having a bánh mì is kind of a no-brainer. The bread is buttery with a crispy crust and soft crumb, and any filling you choose, like the dac biet combo with paté, is balanced with fresh herbs and spicy jalapeño.
This extra large crepe, composed of coconut cream, rice flour, and turmeric, has a delightfully thin and crispy outer crust and a soft, spongy middle. It arrives at your table a golden crescent, or a beacon of light, stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Make sure to get the crispy and the soft bits wrapped up together in a lettuce leaf, top it with fresh herbs, and drown everything in sweet, tangy fish sauce. You will never be the same.
There’s so much thinly shaved cabbage packed onto this plate it could be mistaken for a flood levee, which is thickly blanketed with layers of shaved carrots, cilantro, herbs, crispy garlic, and thick slices of roast duck. Pour over even more tart fish and ginger sauce and never look back.
Bánh Cuốn Thịt Nướng
This plate of delicately thin, soft rice paper crepes are filled with smoky grilled pork and sprinkled with cilantro and crispy garlic. It’s deceptively simple, but the texture of the meat with the crepe makes everything indulgent.