If you are what you eat, we’re pretty sure we’re at least 86% banh mi. And we’re okay with that - especially because there are so many great ones in the East Bay that we can’t stop thinking about. Here are 9 of our favorite banh mi spots in Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.
Banh Mi Ba Le
You’ll know you’ve made it to this small sandwich shop on International (not to be confused with the Banh Mi Ba Le in El Cerrito) when you see the long line stretching down the block. It’s well worth standing in line, though, to get your hands on one of the best banh mi in Oakland. They have 18 different types of sandwiches, ranging from grilled pork or meatball to sardine or roasted eel, all stuffed into a perfectly airy, crackly French roll. And a perfect sandwich deserves a great drink to enjoy along with it: don’t leave without grabbing one of their fantastic iced Vietnamese coffees.
Mom's Bun Mi
Mom’s Bun Mi is located in a strip mall off of International, and makes banh mi on fluffy French rolls. We’re big fans of the BBQ pork, which is slightly sweet and slathered with mayo. If you need a serious caffeine boost, grab an iced Vietnamese coffee - theirs is super strong, and will easily power you through any afternoon slump.
Phosho Dough is a small spot that opened last year on Telegraph - and they do everything from vermicelli bowls and pho to really excellent banh mi. They have the usual fillings - pâté, carrots, daikon, cilantro, and a thick strip of cucumber - and a generous helping of meat. If in doubt, get the well-seasoned grilled pork.
Kim's Café & Sandwiches
This spot in Albany does all of their banh mi on fresh baguettes, as opposed to French rolls - and you have the option of getting your sandwich in a small or large baguette, which you should do if you want to try a couple different types of filling. We usually go for the grilled pork and BBQ chicken, both of which are super tender and flavorful.
Monster Pho is our go-to spot for fantastic pho, rice plates, and vermicelli bowls - but their banh mi are also great, and often overlooked. You can choose between four options: beef, pork, chicken, or tofu, all of which come with the usual fixings on soft French rolls. But the best part is that with each order, you’ll get two mini banh mi, which are as adorable as they are delicious. They’re open at both their original Oakland and Emeryville locations.
This new-ish spot in Berkeley makes their rolls fresh in-house, and puts green onions in their sandwiches for an added crunch. They have 14 kinds of banh mi - so whether you’re in the mood for lemongrass grilled pork or sardines with tomato sauce, they’ve got you covered. The sandwiches are pretty massive, but don’t let that stop you from getting a side of shrimp spring rolls, too.
Moi Eat is a Vietnamese pop-up that’s currently operating out of Nikko’s Family Restaurant in Jingletown. Like Monster Pho, they serve mini banh mi that can probably fit in the palm of your hand. You can order a duo or trio of sandwiches of your choice, with fillings like grilled pork, chicken, prawns, tofu, or tri-tip. It’s all topped with carrots, daikon, and cucumber, and made with a soft, airy roll. They’re open Friday to Sunday for pick up only.
Nom Nom BánhMì
There are tons of banh mi to choose from at this Berkeley spot (10, to be exact), including several vegetarian options, like cream cheese, fried egg, and lemongrass grilled tofu. We like the grilled chicken - it’s really flavorful, and perfectly cooked. And be sure to grab one of their lychee iced teas to wash it all down.
Fresh and Best Cafe 2
If you’re in the mood for a green smoothie to go with your banh mi, stop by Fresh & Best Cafe 2 in Downtown Oakland. You can choose between fillings like spicy chicken and coconut pork, and opt to have your sandwich made on a Dutch crunch, whole wheat, or French roll. The cafe also has vermicelli bowls, wraps, and deli-style sandwiches.