It does’t take long for foodies to sniff out a new establishment. About three weeks ago, I noticed a small restaurant tucked into a strip mall along North Coldwater, next to One Fine Day Bridal and across the street from Steak ‘n Shake. I caught it out of the corner of my eye but couldn’t read the name. On my way home that day, I made a point to check it out: Banh Mi Barista. “Huh,” I thought and didn’t give it much more thought. A few days later, someone tweeted about it , asking if anyone had been there. A conversation erupted during which people speculated if it served only coffee drinks. Someone else piped in and said they serve sandwiches. No one had been. Little by little, I started to see checkins on Four Square and Twitter. Soon enough, it seemed like everyone was going there. Today, I was pushed over the edge when I noticed a group of my friends check in there on Facebook. I asked them how it was and one of them replied: “My new favorite sandwich.”
I waited for Jon to get home from work, told him we had to try the place immediately, and away we went. I wasn’t overly impressed with the atmosphere when we walked in. It is a restaurant in a strip mall, so I am not sure what I expected. I didn’t expect it to feel so Yogoland. And while ambiance isn’t everything, it’s something. We were greeted immediately by the staff working behind the counter, and they were very helpful as we made our selections.
The menu is simple, offering several varieties of Banh Mi, a vietnamese sandwich. They also serve bubble tea, smoothies, Vietnamese coffee, baked goods and spring rolls. I chose the Korean BBQ Banh Mi made with BBQ beef. Jon ordered the Viet Special, made with steamed and BBQ pork. We both ordered our sandwiches spicy, which means loaded with jalapeños. Sriracha is available at all of the tables for folks like Jon and me who like it extra spicy. We also ordered spring rolls. We were pleasantly surprised to find the spring rolls are better than those served at Saigon, and that’s saying something since it’s one of our favorite restaurants. Not only did the spring rolls have shrimp, they had BBQ pork as well, adding to the flavor and texture.
The Banh Mi is outstanding. The combination of cilantro, jalapeño, daikon/carrot salad, soft baguette, and seasoned meat is absolute perfection. You can’t beat the price either. The sandwiches range from $3.25 to $4.50. Our entire meal, including spring rolls and 2 bottles of water, was less than $15. My only complaint about the sandwich is its size. When all is said and done, I don’t think one would fill me up, and I am not accustomed to eating large portions either. Several others I’ve talked to agree and had to order two or three when they visited.
As an added bonus, we ran into our friend Alec who was stopping in for a smoothie. He raved about the sandwiches and said he was bringing his wife back later that evening.
I am so glad Banh Mi Barista is close to where I work. I imagine I will be making several trips there a month for lunch.
Have you been there? Tell us what you think.