Ba Le

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
Critics' pick
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Photograph: Jeff Catt
Ba Le

This banh mi shop is quickly becoming the Pret A Manger of Vietnamese restaurants, and there is perhaps no demographic more grateful for its expansion than the Loop lunch crowd. Forget the egg rolls (greasy), the huge salads (more sensible than sensational), and the cups of pho (the broth is practically anemic)—just stick with the banh mi. These might be the best sandwiches $6 can buy downtown, with nearly 20 protein options (we like the barbecue pork) topped with crunchy pickled daikon, carrots and sliced jalapeño on a perfectly toasted baguette. For an afternoon pick-me-up, try the fresh mango smoothie with boba or a creamy Vietnamese iced coffee.

Venue name: Ba Le
Address: 166 W Washington St

Cross street: between LaSalle and Wells Sts
Opening hours: Lunch
Transport: Subway stop: Washington Subway lines: Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple (rush hrs) to Washington
Price: Average sandwich: $6
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