Where To Get Bánh Mì In SF guide image


Where To Get Bánh Mì In SF

Looking for a bánh mì? These are the best options in San Francisco.

There’s a special spot in sandwich heaven reserved for Vietnamese bánh mì. Between the crunch of fresh baguettes, the acidity of pickled carrots and daikon, and the richness of pâté and mayo, even the most average versions are still pretty great. But why settle for average when San Francisco has so many options. Here are some great bánh mì spots in the city.


Saigon Sandwich

Saigon Sandwich makes the best bánh mì in town, which is why we have no problem showing up to this spot whenever the desire for well-marinated meats hits. 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 bánh mì spot is located just outside of Little Saigon in the Tenderloin, and is cash-only. We like getting the version with juicy roasted pork, but going for the tofu, chicken, or special combo with ham, pork, and pâté is never a bad idea either.

The Vietnamese cafe in the Inner Richmond specializes in vermicelli, pho, and rice plates—and some pretty stellar bánh mì. While you'll get to pick from a decent-sized bánh mì menu, like grilled pork, lemongrass steak, and five-spice chicken, the crispy duck sandwich is what will most likely keep you coming back. It is phenomenal. An extra thick duck cutlet is fried and then smothered in a creamy house-made aioli and a ton of coleslaw. This is one where you may want to grab an extra napkin or two—it gets messy.

This small, takeout-only spot makes our favorite bánh mì in Excelsior. They’re filled with some of the best marinated meats in town, from juicy grilled pork to tender lemongrass chicken. Huge portions are also what make these sandwiches shine. Their baguette is the size of a forearm, and each one is stuffed with a liberal amount of thick carrot and cucumber strips, and heaps of fresh herbs. Even the fresh spring rolls (three per order) are packed with so much pork and shrimp. 

The first thing you’ll notice about the bánh mì at this takeout-only Vietnamese spot in the Tenderloin is that they’re generously filled with pickled carrots and daikon–these compact sandwiches are thick. And compared to other spots in the city, theirs has thicker swaths of mayo, which is definitely to our liking. Get the marinated tofu—juicy, herby, and an all-around winner.

Dinosaurs in the Castro is a takeout-only operation that has bánh mì down to a science. What sets theirs apart is the bread—the thicker roll has a lovely toasted crust and is soft in the center. The sandwich is big, too. We usually go for the grilled pork that has a nice hint of lemongrass, or the one with excellent xiu mai-style meatballs in it. There are optional add-ons like pâté and avocado, but we’ve never had a reason to add them since the sandwiches are near-perfect as is. Also, don’t look past the fresh spring rolls—they’re some of the best in town. If you’re not in the Castro, Dinosaurs has other locations in SoMa and Lakeside, and outside of the city in Pacifica.

The snug, lunch-only spot in the Richmond makes some of the most reliable bánh mì in the city. Sandwich options include flavorful pork, tofu, ham, or grilled chicken—loaded with the usual fresh cucumber and pickled carrots. The best part is, you can't go wrong with whatever you decide to roll with. What also sets their sandwiches apart are the bread rolls, which are very crackly and light.

Like the name suggests, b&b specializes in boba and bánh mì—an ideal pairing, like compact cars and parallel parking. We love this Sunset spot because their sandwiches are a pretty great value, considering they are massive. Fillings include slow-roasted pork belly, chicken, and fried tofu, but you’ll want to zero in on the bánh mì that comes with the big helping of tender bulgogi beef and creamy house-made gochujang aioli we now want on everything.

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photo credit: Susie Lacocque

Where To Get Bánh Mì In SF guide image