When driving through that few-mile stretch between Story + Tully Rd., you’ll be able to quickly identify the neighborhood of “Little Saigon” — an area with the highest concentration of the South Bay’s Vietnamese community. Fun fact: San Jose boasts the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam itself.
The rich culture is mirrored in its food, and we wanted to spotlight an iconic staple of Vietnamese cuisine — the delectable bánh mì sandwich.
From the shops that offer the best bread to those with the tastiest side dishes, we give you a list of five great spots to get a solid bánh mì.
Duc Huong | 📍 2345 McKee Rd.
Choosing the best bread for a bánh mì sandwich is tough. But what makes this restaurant rise above the rest is the option to pack your sandwich in a buttery, garlic bread roll. Along with carrying some non-traditional stuffings like spicy Korean pork or chicken + avocado, Duc Huong’s bread always comes out hot, and the sweet + savory flavors compliment each other just right.
111 Bakery Inc. | 📍 2347 McKee Rd.
The thing about bánh mìs is that the options are endless — and sometimes overwhelming. Luckily, 111 Bakery offers a mini version of each of their sandwiches for only $3, so you can get a taste of several of their 12 sandwich options. And when you find one you like, the full size is only $5. You really can’t beat the prices at this bakery.
Best for plant-based diets
Mint & Basil | 📍 5130 Cherry Ave., #30
It could be difficult for vegetarians and vegans to find a place to indulge in this meaty sandwich. But Mint & Basil has got you covered — their selection of faux meats could even fool the seasoned meat eater. They offer vegan pork + beef, soy chicken, tofu, mushrooms, and eggplant for your sandwich + serve other dishes like curry, rice plates, and soups that are also 100% plant based.
Lee’s Sandwiches | 📍 260 E. Santa Clara St.
A tried and true classic, Lee’s Sandwiches holds a legacy unlike any other shop on this list. What had started as a small mom + pop store on Santa Clara St. in 1983, has now grown to more than 60 locations across the country. Their Euro-style sandwiches and signature iced coffee make this a go-to spot for lunch, and a great introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.
DaKao Sandwiches | 📍 98 E. San Salvador St.
This is your one stop shop for not just bánh mìs, but some authentic Vietnamese street food staples. They’ve got $4.25 rice plates, a selection of iced taro and tapioca desserts, and traditional porridges + soups. So if you’re looking to expand your palette, we suggest hitting up DaKao for a wide range of dishes at a great price.
Until tomorrow, Xin mời everyone — which is the Vietnamese way of saying “Bon Appétit.” 🤌