16 of the Greatest Banh Mi Sandwiches in Philly
This Vietnamese classic is one of our favorites, and that's saying something in a hoagie-loving city like Philadelphia.
The banh mi sandwich, like pho, is an icon. A byproduct of French colonialism in Vietnam, it’s basically the Vietnamese version of a baguette sandwich or, through a Philadelphia lens, a hoagie. Some consider them to be among the world’s best sandwiches — a perfect balance of sweet, savory, spicy, sour and fresh, owing to a crunchy combination of pickled carrots and radishes, cucumbers, chilis and cilantro.
The meat of the sandwich could be anything from pork belly to lunch meat to sausage. And in Philly, a city so rich in fantastic Vietnamese restaurants, there’s a plethora of banh mi to try. Here are some of our favorites.
Artisan Boulanger Pâtissier, East Passyunk
Andre Chin and Amanda Eap aren’t Vietnamese, nor are they French. They’re just a couple of Cambodians making some of the best French bread in Philly — perfect, thick-crusted vessels for pork belly and and pȃté.
Stock’s Tyler Akin serves a cheffed-up version of the sandwich with cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, pickled red cabbage, Japanese mayo, and your choice of Berkshire pork sausage, tofu, or Thai basil chicken.
Ba Le Bakery, South Philly
Ba Le’s banh mis are the gold standard. They’re the metric by which every other banh mi in the city is compared because every component of the sandwich, from its flaky, airy baguette (so good, most Vietnamese restaurants and shops use them) to its time-honored fillings, has been perfected over 20 years of service.
Q T Vietnamese Sandwich Co., Chinatown
Since 2008, the best banh mis in Chinatown have come from this super tiny, super friendly orange take-out counter.
Fu Wah Mini Market, Cedar Park
This West Philly market and deli serves all kinds of hoagies, from turkey and cheese to Italian. But the reason people have traveled from far and wide to this tiny storefront — and it’s been a neighborhood mainstay for over 35 years — is because it puts out some finest spicy banh mis in Philly, including the must-try “tofu hoagie.”
Street Side, Northern Liberties
You could pass by this storefront every day without knowing there was a little Southeast Asian restaurant happening inside of it. Get your banh mi with non-traditional fillings like Cambodian Kroeung beef and fried coconut shrimp.
Anh Hong Pho & Cafe, Upper Darby
The menu at this spot just west of 69th Street Station hides a delicious secret: a full section labeled “Vietnamese Hoagie & Bread” with sandwiches stuffed from pate to sardines to grilled meatballs, all $4 or less.
Banh Mi Cali, Chinatown
This scaled-down Vietnamese spot offers banh mi filled with shrimp, barbecued chicken or pork, sausage, meatballs, or ham (plus a vegetarian option), all under $5.
Banh Mi & Bottles, South Street
This sandwich and bottle shop is home of the Vietnamese French dip, in which a fantastic brisket banh mi comes with a side of pho broth — you know, for dipping.
Cafe Mi Quang, Kensington
This tiny storefront, located under the El deep in Kensington, is known for its namesake noodle dish. But its banh mi — including banh mi xiu mai, stuffed with Vietnamese meatballs in a deep red sauce — are worth the trip, too.
Cafe Saigon, Northeast Philly
Cafe Saigon has a lot more to offer than the regular roster of Vietnamese classics. Their ho fun and canh bun (a soup made with water spinach and crab meat) are excellent. But the banh mi here — reliably stuffed full and always affordably priced — are an absolute must, especially if you’re looking for something more grab-and-go.
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The Breakfast Den, South Street
South Street’s new Vietnamese bruncherie serves a breakfast banh mi that combines fried eggs, sausage, fresh herbs, and eggplant on a crusty roll. And there ain’t another breakfast sandwich in town like it.
Cafe Nhan, West Passyunk
Cafe Nhan is the day-off restaurant of choice for a lot of Philly’s restaurant industry. Head there for delightfully friendly (and fast!) service, and a great selection of banh mi including a chicken curry version that we can’t get out of our heads.
Saigon Noodle Bar, Chestnut Hill
Pork and tofu banh mi are likely the most popular selection for Philadelphians seeking their fix. But our favorite at Saigon Noodle Bar is their shrimp banh mi, which comes full of plump, gently cooked jumbo shrimp surrounded by warm, crispy bread.
Teas N’ Mi, East Passyunk
Bubble tea fans will be delighted to know that they can get a variety of excellent versions at Teas N’ Mi, paired with made-to-order banh mi — with more vegetarian options than most Banh mi spots in the city.
Cafe Cuong, Italian Market
You know what sounds like a lovely afternoon? Grabbing a quick banh mi at Cafe Cuong (make sure you opt to include their rich and flavorful pate) and then walking around the corner to John’s Water Ice. Now that’s a Philly meal.