The banh mi has all the key components of the perfect sandwich. Fresh, crunchy bread? Check. Crisp, tasty veggies? Check. Sweet and savory meat? You’re damn right that’s a check. That you can also sneak a little butter-mayo-Sriracha on there is just the butter-mayo-Sriracha icing on the cake. When done well, there’s nothing better, and these spots do ’em oh-so well. Follow the paté-paved road and enjoy.
This place used to be a tiny storefront until it took over the neighboring space. Now it’s just a small storefront. Progress! Go for the #1 house special (pate, cold cuts, pork, veg) or the #10 house special vegetarian – and order both spicy. Either one will hit whatever spot needs hitting for around $5. That said, the bread out here is so f*cking good you could just lather it up with butter and cilantro and walk out a happy customer. Overall, one of the best spots in the game.
This place has more DVDs than it does menu items, but that’s just to keep the unadventurous at bay. Or because DVDs are making a comeback. Either way, the sandwiches at this convenience store are consistently excellent. Try the #1 (house specialty) or the #4 (minced pork). Pro tip: use Sau Voi for one of the best jury duty lunches you can get. If it’s nice outside, grab a sandwich, hit a park, and take advantage of your civil get-out-of-work-free card.
Another spot for a solid #1 house special. But instead of ground pork, this one comes with “pork floss.” The dried out, super shredded meat – the type you might expect on a Vietnamese or Thai salad – adds a really nice, sweet flavor to the rest of the sandwich, kind of like, well, ground pork. But with a crunch and consistency that takes it to another level. Throw in good bread, good veg, got one of the city’s best.
There are a couple cute concoctions at Co Ba 53, and some are likely worth a try (pork belly and grilled pineapple?), but this place makes our list for the classic Thit. The pork is the star, and comes chopped into thick pieces instead of being ground up like so many others. Granted, the bread could be better — little too much chew, not enough crisp — but in the age-old game of Rock, Pork, Bread, pork always wins. Midtowners, eat up.
BMS is hidden in the back of a jewelry store but is still known by enough people that it gets busy during lunch. Fully reliable across the board, and great for people who want heat. The spicy mayo is above average, and when you ask for it hot, they hit you with jalapenos, not just Sriracha, which is always a nice touch.
If you want a banh mi but also want to impress your date (if for some reason your date is unimpressed by the list of delis above)? Hit up An Choi. Does it have the best banh in the city? No. Second best? Also, no. But it is a real, fairly hip restaurant, and has a whole slew of offerings that makes it more than just a sandwich stall.
Brooklyn’s banh mi scene is heavily concentrated in a small patch of Sunset Park’s Chinatown, where every other storefront seems to sell the sandwich. But Ba Xuyen may well rule them all. It has a fairly big menu, and there are a lot of good bites, but the pate out here is on another level. A sandwich with is an absolute must. And even though it is equal part delicious-disgusting, get the signature avocado milkshake for good measure. When in Rome, or something.
Another Sunset Park star, the house special over here gives Ba Xuyen a run for its $4.50. You’re looking at butter-and-mayo’d bread, topped with cold cuts, BBQ pork, pickled veg, jalapeño, and cilantro. Sounds familiar, but somehow manages to taste original. Like some other hitters on this list, the pork here comes sliced nice and thick, so you can actually savor the meat.
Sister spot to Thanh Da, this version is crammed into a smaller space, but still delivers. Go for the BBQ pork leaf sandwich, unless it’s sold out, which happens from time to time. Regardless, the bread is pretty much the best thing here, so top it however you want and enjoy.
If you can’t make the trek out to Sunset Park, you can hit Hanco’s for a temporary fix. Another newbie compared to some of the others, this is a fresh and clean spot in Cobble Hill (and BK Heights, and Park Slope) with pretty solid sandwiches. Go for either the classic or shredded chicken. Pro tip: if you want heat, ask for it — nothing is going to be spicy unless you take charge.
A small spot out in Bushwick, Falansai is not the best restaurant overall, but the banh are still pretty solid. Plus, beggars can’t be choosers, and for a weekday lunch, it’s the best the area has to offer. We like the grilled chicken or grilled pork, both are pretty simple and easy.
The lone Queens wolf on our list, JoJu is worth traveling for. And super fun to say. Admittedly “modern” compared to some others, it still comes correct on the Vietnamese flavor. Go for the beef bulgogi or lemongrass chicken, and throw an egg or the spicy green sauce on top. This isn’t something to compare to the classic pate-and-pork options, but it’s delicious, so who cares.