No. 70: Combination Banh Mi at Vinh Xuong Bakery
To get to this coveted sandwich in Athmar Park, head east on Alameda Avenue from South Federal Boulevard, pull into the Alameda Square Shopping Center and park at the northwest corner. There you'll find Vinh Xuong Bakery, a popular lunch spot serving one of the best examples of banh mi in the city.
What makes this sandwich really sing? To start with, the tender, housemade French roll that encases the goods. Next, the meat. From the barbecue pork to the ham to the brisket, all proteins are made in-house, which helps give the banh mi a fresh flavor not often associated with pork pâté and cold cuts. Heaps of fresh cilantro add an herbal quality, and the sting from the slightly pickled daikon radish and carrot help ease the fat of the meat, cleansing your palate with each bite. Because the combination banh mi encompasses all of this (sans the brisket), it's your best bet for a complete experience. And if you want a little more heat, add a dab of traditional Vietnamese chile-garlic sauce and pickled jalapeños for an extra kick.
Owner Duc Huynh learned all he knows about making banh mi and other Vietnamese foods from his parents, who opened the original Federal Boulevard Vinh Xuong Bakery in the 1980s. Huynh took a stab at the family business in 2010 by starting his own venture, a decidedly hipper version of his parents' traditional shop. Even though Huynh's spot sports a DIY vibe and no fluorescent lights, the two stores remain connected, and both make everything from scratch. Aside from various banh mi, you can also find an amazing coffee program, moon cakes, sesame balls and other baked goods.
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Appropriately, the name Vinh Xuong roughly means "always expanding," which is exactly what your belt will be doing once you start indulging. After all, once you've had one of these banh mi, you will want more. Luckily, at $4 a pop, it's an affordable addiction.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
No. 84: Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Yong Gung
No. 83: A Meatball Hero at Lil' Ricci's New York Pizzeria
No. 82: Shakshuka at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen
No. 81: Late-Night Ramen at Brazen
No. 80: Potato Tacos at El Tejado
No. 79: Corned Beef Heart at theWay Back
No. 78: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Snarfburger
No. 77: Sweet Corn Mezzaluna at Bar Dough
No. 76: Duck Confit at Table 6
No. 75: Croque Monsieur at Fire
No. 74: Tahini Cookies at the Preservery
No. 73: The Alferd Packer Salad at MAD Greens
No. 72: The Tuna Poke Bowl at Ohana Island Kitchen
No. 71: Mini Chile Rellenos at La Loma