The traditional components of the bánh mì sandwich may be straightforward—pickled carrots or cucumbers, daikon, savory pork and a slick of mayo—but New York’s best Vietnamese food spots do more than just serve a gussied-up hero. From Chelsea to Chinatown, these standout sandwich shops excel at everything from the classic to the crazy.
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Best bánh mì restaurants in NYC
When a hole-in-the-wall just won’t cut it, bánh mì lovers head to this buzzy box on the Lower East Side. Brothers and owners Tuan and Huy Bui serve eight different variations of the sandwich, including a house-made five-spice garlic pork belly and a satisfyingly meaty vegetarian option with crispy tofu and sweet chili sauce.
Known to its fans as “the jewelry-store one,” the tiny Chinatown takeout operation does indeed share space with an accessories counter. Regardless, the cheap prices, succulent pork preparations and crispy-chewy bread that’s baked in-house make it easy to overlook the odd location.
Long considered the grande dame of Brooklyn’s bánh mì shops, everything from the creamy, garlicky mayo to the decadent pate is addictive. Meat options include the requisite pork, but for the adventurous type, there’s also turkey breast, tuna and even sardine. Regulars know to leave room for an avocado shake for dessert.
While paying homage to the market food stands of Vietnam, this Chelsea stalwart is also not afraid to veer from tradition. The ubiquitous chicken liver pate is tasty, but you should also try more innovative combinations, like caramelized pork belly braised in coconut juice. Pro order: The pho-and-sandwich combination is a meat lover’s fantasy.
This sleek spot serves classic Vietnamese fare during dinner hours, but come during lunch to try one of their three traditional bánh mì preparations. Diners choose between pork, chicken and tofu, each loaded with pickled veggies and a smear of house-made aioli for the meats, or garlic, shallot and lemongrass for the tofu.
The new kid on the block, this Bushwick joint has nods to fusion as well as traditional touches like its garlic aioli. But the real star of the menu is the brisket in the sandwich, which is smoked for 16 hours, sautéed in pho broth and covered with fresh bread delivered from East Williamsburg.
While this Cambodian-influenced shop doesn’t serve traditional bánh mì, their innovative takes on everything from hoisin meatballs to barbecue brisket earn them a place on this list. Keep an eye out for collaborations with star chefs: In the recent past, the chainlet has worked with the likes of Mario Batali and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Located inside what must be New York’s largest Vietnamese music emporium, you’ll find the miniscule sandwich post right next to…the cigarette counter. Regardless, the classic Dac Biet, made with ham, pate or slices of pork roll, is phenomenal, and the charming “Vietnamese aunties” who construct them win almost as much praise.
Hidden deep in Sunset Park’s Chinatown, the sandwiches here are slathered with an addictive house-spiced mayo and maintain a nearly perfect ratio of meat to veggies. Porcine lovers should snag a Banh Mi Bi, stuffed with ham, pork roll and pork belly. Wash it all down with their Vietnamese iced coffee—it’s worth visiting for that alone.
Commuters, Midtown office workers and foodies alike know the Pennsy has their dining needs covered. The 8,000-square-foot space located above Penn Station hosts five restaurants, plus a La Colombe Coffee Truck and a bar. The Cinnamon Snail serves up vegan burgers, sandwiches and bowls like their Thai barbecue tempeh sandwich ($9.94), while The Little Beet offers a completely gluten-free menu. Think a miso chicken bowl with brown rice and veggie slaw ($11.94) and a salmon poke nori roll ($10.33). Chef Marc Forgione’s Lobster Press serves more indulgent fare, like a bacon, lobster and tomato sandwich ($25) and lobster mac and cheese ($13). Carnivores will want to check out the black angus steak sandwich ($15) or maple-glazed short rib platter ($15) at meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. Mario Batali’s Mario by Mary has the Italian options covered, serving up such crowd-pleasers as an eggplant, ricotta and tomato panini ($11.02) and a truffle honey grilled cheese ($9.19).
Venue says: “Rainy weather calls for comfort food and happy hour - come check ours out 4-6PM, 8-10PM (select beer, wine, well drinks $5-$7).”