Top 10 Bánh Mì Shops: Where to Get Viet Sandwiches If You Can't Find A Food Truck
If the lines at Nom Nom Truck are too long, or the food runs out or the sweltering sidewalk heat is too much for you, there are still brick-and-mortar options for bánh mì, the awesome Vietnamese baguette sandwiches that Viet street food by way of French Colonialism. Yeah, yeah, it's way more cool to eat your food at a truck, but remember that only last year people actually sat down for lunch.
Photo credit: Diane Cu Dakao's bánh mì
So if you want a more traditional venue for your bánh mì, here are 10 of our favorite eateries (in alphabetical order) that you might try. Oh, and for the record, Nom Nom Truck's David Stankunas' favorite place to score bánh mì (other than his own truck) is Saigon's Sandwich and Bakery, which is where Nom Nom gets their baguettes.
1. Bánh Mì & Che Cali: This is the best of the bánh mì chains, both for value and quality, and the many stores turn out consistent sandwiches in every one of their locations. They have great 2-for-1 specials, and a huge dessert bar. 8450 Valley Blvd., Rosemead, (626) 288-5600; 13838 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 534-6987; 8948 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 897-3927; and many other locations.
2. Bánh Mì Cho Cu: Run by mother-and-daughter team, this tiny shop bakes terrific baguettes, flaky and with an almost cracker-like crust. The baguettes come out of the oven every thirty minutes, and there are almost a dozen bánh mì to chose from. 14520 Magnolia St., Westminster; (714) 891-3718.
3. Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie: The owner of this 5 year-old shop is from Paris, and you can tell by the cases of pretty decorated pastries, eclairs and croissants and palmiers, that he has in addition to the fine bánh mì, all on fantastic housemade baguettes. 14352 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 418-9098.
4. Dakao Sandwich To Go: This is a family-run bánh mì shop and catering company. They make their own bread, which is egg-glazed, shiny on top and when eaten later, can be softer, almost hoagie-ish. In addition to bánh mì, Dakao also has beef in betel leaves, which is sometimes difficult to find. 14550 Brookhurst St., Westminster; (714) 775-8194.
5. Gala Bakery: This is a sandwich shop has two locations in Westminster, one of which (on Brookhurst) contains a bakery that bakes for both shops. With great pastries and mung bean smoothies, in addition to find bánh mì. 15020 Moran St., Westminster; (714) 891-3358; 14570 Brookhurst St., Westminster; (714) 775-7327.
6. Gingergrass: Sure, the bánh mì at this chic Silver Lake restaurant are more upscale, more expensive, and more elaborate (they come with house-made sides, for example) than those in more traditional shops; and sure, there are only 3 kinds instead of a dozen. But they're enormous and awfully good. The bread comes from Mr. Baguette in Rosemead. 2396 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 644-1600.
7. Lily's Bakery: This crowded European-style cafe makes its own baguettes (as well as croissants, beignets, gateaux and elaborate wedding cakes) and serves excellent espresso along with traditional Vietnamese coffee. There are usually 6-7 bánh mì to chose from, also a full menu if you want more than a sandwich. 10161 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; (714) 839-1099.
8. Tip Top Sandwiches: This is a terrific bánh mì shop, easily one of the best, that churns out gorgeous slender, crispy baguettes at alarming speed. With 5-6 different kinds of bánh mì, as well as European-style sandwiches. A second shop is opening in Rosemead in about 5-6 weeks (the owner reported today), where there will be an on-site bakery as well. 14094 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove. 8522 East Valley Blvd., Rosemead; (626) 280-8883. (Not yet open.)
9. Viet Noodle Bar: The bánh mì are pricier here than in Little Saigon, as you'd expect from the hip Atwater Village address. But the 5 bánh mì that are on both the lunch and dinner menu are lovely, made on French-style baguettes that the owners have specially-made for them at a San Gabriel bakery. 3133 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 906-1575.
10. Zon Baguettes: This Tustin shop bakes their own baguettes, as well as other pastries, and has 16 kinds of bánh mì. There are also many non-Viet sandwiches and other items (Denver omelettes, for example) on the menu. Good to know if you can't make it to Little Saigon. 14081 Newport Ave., Tustin; (714) 731-1366.