Hoagies - of a sort - on a budget.
Thanks to last-minute agreement, the gaping wound in our fair city’s budget has stopped hemorrhaging. But let’s not forget that we were this close to Mad Max -style urban decay so it’s not appropriate for the few left with expendable income to blow tons of it at restaurants serving “combava lime gelee” or “versawhip marshmallows.” We need to eat cheaply, and no nourishing, filling, tasty dish is simpler and easier on the budget than the banh mi.
The Italian Market’s claustrophobia-inducing Café Nhu y (802 Christian St. 215.925.6544) is smaller than Joey Vento’s sense of empathy, but its banh mi bi—made with pulled pork, shredded carrots, cilantro, jalapeños and a fishy Vietnamese “aioli” on a Sarcone’s roll—is big on taste. U H
Brave the white folks with dreads playing hacky sack in Clark Park and head down to Fu Wah Mini Market (810 S. 47th St. 215.729.2993). Its spicy “veggie hoagie” with pickled daikon, crunchy carrot, jalapeños, hot sauce, cracked black pepper and tofu plump with marinade on a toasted roll made our 50 Must-Eats list, but be warned: If you’re more of a meat-eater, the in-your-face ’fu might be a bit overwhelming. U H C
We at Field Guide are admittedly sandwich freaks, and we’re in love with Ba Le Bakery and Restaurant (606 Washington Ave. 215.389.4350) and its amazing “special combination” banh mi. Made with pig parts, it’s pork roll on top of layers of ham resting on layers of roast pork caressed by a rich pork pate topped with your typical banh mi accoutrements on a house-baked baguette; it made us happier than a pig in shit. U B
There are many reasons to like Royal Tavern (937 E. Passyunk Ave. 215.389.6694): local craft beer, friendly people, the good chance you’ll hear Motörhead blasting from the speakers at any given moment and, of course, the food. The sweet potato banh mi (dinner only) made with bibb lettuce, crispy jicama, pickled daikon, shredded carrots, jalapeños and … wait for it … cilantro aioli served with a side of fries is a grand addition to their already dynamic bar menu. H A
At the Hoa Binh Plaza on Washington Avenue, you can pick up a lime tree, the new DVD from your favorite Vietnamese pop trio and a pork banh mi at Nam Son (1601 Washington Ave. 215.545.4067). The sweet and spicy BBQ pork is cooled by daikon, carrot, green bell pepper and cucumber then spiced up again by everyone’s favorite hot sauce, Sriracha. U B P
The not-on-the-menu banh mi at May’s Gourmet Café & Deli (1845 Christian St. 215.545.1052) is almost as elusive as Michael Vick in his heyday. Made with ham, pork roll and a rich pork pate and topped with cucumber, carrots, daikon and cilantro on a crispy baguette-like hoagie roll, it’s worth tracking down and making it part of your team. U B C ■
PW's Taste of Philly 2014