New Orleans is known for embracing and celebrating a wealth of different cultures. But in recent years, it seems as if the vibrant Vietnamese community has gained more attention than any other. Having adopted extensive baking knowledge from the French during colonization, the Vietnamese use their talents to give us one of the most delicious sandwiches known to man. The banh mi, or Vietnamese po-boy, features a baguette stuffed with a variety of meats and “dressed” with butter, mayonnaise, cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and pickled root vegetables. With so many places offering their own versions these days, it’s difficult to narrow down which ones to try. Here are 11 places sure to send you into banh mi bliss.
Where to Get Banh Mi in New Orleans
14207 Chef Menteur Highway
If you’re looking for something super authentic and don’t mind a bit of a drive, head on over to Dong Phuong Bakery on Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East. Here, you can find things like milk bread, raisin bread, brioche, pork buns, cakes, and many types of cookies. The baked goods are no doubt fantastic, but the banh mi is what really brings in the crowds. Having perfected their recipe, Dong Phuong bakers are the premier supplier of these popular French-style loaves to Vietnamese restaurants and grocers all over the city. The loaf is light, exceptionally crunchy on the outside, and pillow-soft on the inside, making it the perfect vessel for the bakery’s variety of cold cuts, meatballs, and Chinese sausage. I recommend the #1 with cold cuts and liver pate, but if you’re not feeling that adventurous, the Chinese meatball or the char-grilled pork will suit just fine. And at less than $4 a pop you can easily take advantage of their “buy 10, get 1 free” deal.
925 Behrman Highway or 1441 Canal St. #1
Having recently expanded to include a Canal Street outpost in addition to its original location inside Hong Kong Market, Mr. Bubbles is a banh mi shop that also specializes in bubble teas. I like the combination that comes with sliced pork and crushed pork meatball, but the rotisserie chicken is a fine choice as well. Shop the market for all the best deals on fresh produce, seafood, hard-to-find Asian condiments and packaged goods. The market even has its own Saigon deli and bakery where you can get items like spring rolls, salads, and roasted duck banh mi.
1813 Magazine St.
Friendly, fast service and stellar food makes this Magazine Street Vietnamese restaurant one of the most popular in town. Try their vegan spring rolls, spicy shrimp pho (with added veggies), and the spicy tofu banh mi. Just like the appetizer portion, large chunks of tofu are bathed in a spicy ginger sauce and stuffed into French bread with lots of veggies and cilantro. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, then this is the banh mi for you!
620 Conti St.
Every neighborhood seems to have its own Vietnamese restaurant and now the French Quarter is no exception; I’m thrilled to see that the Westbank original has a second location on Conti Street across from the Louisiana Supreme Court building. For a delicious, budget-friendly meal that you can eat while you stroll Royal Street, grab a chargrilled pork banh mi with pate, aioli, maggi seasoning, cilantro, and pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumber.
Pho Tau Bay
1565 Tulane Ave.
One would be hard-pressed to discuss Vietnamese food in New Orleans without mentioning Pho Tau Bay. Located on Tulane Avenue in the Mid-City area, The Banh Mi Dac Biet or BM #12 is my personal favorite and is the most authentic version on the menu. Pho Tau Bay uses Dong Phuong bread and smears it with a garlic/lime aioli, piles it with house-made chicken liver pate, bone-in rolled ham, sliced white pork (similar to bologna), and then tops everything off with pickled carrots, slices of jalapeno pepper, cilantro and a dash of maggi seasoning, which is similar to soy sauce. Awesome is an understatement.
Pho Noi Viet
2005 Magazine St.
In Uptown and don’t have time to venture out to the East or go across the river? No problem. Pho Noi Viet on Magazine Street has a great banh mi that features Terrytown’s own Hi-Do Bakery’s French bread. Being slightly bigger than the Dong Phuong loaves, Hi-Do’s bread still features that quintessential crunchy exterior and airy interior that makes French bread so popular. Choose from pork meatball with au jus, grilled chicken, beef, pork, or tofu. Be sure to order a Da Chanh, or homemade limeade, to wash it all down.
2135 St Charles Ave.
With an Uptown location (listed) and two in Metairie, it’s always easy to get your pho fix. Unlike many other Vietnamese restaurants that procure bread from bakeries, Pho Orchid’s chef bakes his own bread. I like that it’s a bit thinner than some of the traditional loaves, so the meat to bread ratio is ideal. Try the combination with rolled ham, chicken, and pork with butter and pickled veggies. Fresh jalapeños are optional.
4201 Magazine St. or 611 O’Keefe Ave.
With two locations in the city, Magasin Café was one of the first Vietnamese restaurants to popularize this cuisine for the Uptown community. Using French baguettes from Magazine Street’s own La Boulangerie Bakery, they offer a nice variety of banh mi options including eggplant, garlic-fried tofu, Chinese sausage with eggs, lemongrass chicken, and pork roll with pate. The well-priced menu, contemporary ambiance, and $5 corking fee make Magasin a popular spot for budget-friendly dining.
Eat-well Food Mart
2700 Canal St.
Where else can you get a lotto ticket, bottle of cheap wine, and banh mi? The answer is this convenience store on Canal Street where ambiance isn’t the draw, but the combination banh mi loaded with different meats and pickled veggies is right up there with some of the best in the city. Cheap, too.
Pho Cam Ly
3814 Magazine St.
This is one of the newer restaurants to hit Magazine Street near Touro hospital. The option for brown rice noodles makes them unique, and I dare you try the pho challenge where you must consume two pounds of noodles and two pounds of meat within one hour. I love their banh mi with dark meat lemongrass chicken, pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and buttered Dong Phuong bread but the Chinese sausage with eggs sounds delicious, too. Closed on Tuesdays.
5100 Freret St.
Freret Street might be the holy grail of sandwich-style food. Along with short stretch of street you’ll find hot dogs, cheesesteaks, burgers, traditional seafood poboys, bagels, and, of course, banh mi. Try the meat lover at Mint that comes with bbq pork, pate, Vietnamese ham, and meatball on crunchy French bread. Tofu and shrimp are also available.