Dinosaurs in the Castro is a bit hard to find (the entrance is actually on 16th Street and not Market Street, despite what your map app will tell you). But it’s worth the effort since this takeout-only operation has banh mi down to a science. Once you enter the counter-service Vietnamese sandwich spot that’s roughly the size of two elevators, you’ll have eight banh mis to choose from. What makes each sandwich standout are the delicious meat and vegetarian fillings, and the thick and fluffy bread rolls. Pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumber add the ideal crunch. 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 pate 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, Lakeside, and Pacifica.
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Grilled Pork Banh Mi
This is one of our go-tos. The pork is always cooked perfectly and is beautifully charred on the ends. Don’t leave here without one.
Shaking Beef Banh Mi
A popular option at Dinosaurs, and also a solid choice. Though we think the shaking beef could use a bit more flavor, it does have a delicious tang from the vinaigrette it’s marinated in.
Meatball Banh Mi
Do not sleep on this sandwich. The xiu mai-style meatballs are onion-y and light and comforting all at once.
Pork & Shrimp Fresh Spring Rolls
You’re here for banh mi, but you should also be here for these rolls. Dinosaurs makes three types that are all great, but we can’t get enough of the grilled pork and shrimp, which is stuffed with the perfect ratio of vermicelli noodles to fresh herbs to protein. You get to choose from three sauces (peanut, hoisin, and vegan fish) but for us it’s the warm, creamy peanut sauce all the way.