Just outside of Little Saigon in the Tenderloin is Saigon Sandwich, a cash-only institution that’s been around for decades, and for good reason - it’s home to the best banh mi in San Francisco.
The Vietnamese counter-serve spot on Larkin runs a tight ship. There’s usually a line around lunchtime, but it moves pretty quickly. And after you place your order, your sandwich will be made, tightly wrapped, and handed to you, seemingly within seconds. The short menu consists of banh mi with different fillings, from roast chicken or tofu to a special combination with ham and thick pâté, plus a swath of creamy mayo, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and jalapeño.
We promise we’re not being dramatic when we say we’ve never been disappointed with anything here. The proteins are tender and well-seasoned, the French rolls are crackly and fresh, and each sandwich is loaded with an impressive amount of filling. It all adds up to a fantastic lunch that we consider picking up at least once a week. Plus, at around $5 each, one banh mi will cost you less than an hour of parking on Hayes St.
An excellent option. The chicken is always juicy and flavorful, and it’s balanced out really nicely with the crunchy veggies and creamy mayo.
Our other go-to. They don’t skimp on the pork, and for that, we are very grateful.
The combination comes with steamed pork, roast pork, and a generous helping of rich pâté, which we wish we could save to spread on every sandwich and charcuterie board we encounter for the rest of our lives.
The iced Vietnamese coffee works wonders as a midday pick-me-up. It’s strong, creamy, and on the sweeter side.