What’s not to love about a crusty baguette, slices of BBQ pork belly, pickled carrot and coriander with a hint of fish sauce? Obviously nothing, because Brisbane’s best cafes have been embracing this delectable Vietnamese treat with a passion and have been producing some epic banh mi combinations that would do our friends in Vietnam proud.
If you haven’t organised your lunch today (or let's be flexible, your dinner or breakfast) here’s a handy list of the top spots in town to get your hands on Brisbane’s best banh mi.
Banh Mi Now
Hidden away in the heart of Adelaide Street, the hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop known as Banh Mi Now prides itself in mastering the art of making a delicious banh mi. Fill your roll with some crackling pork belly goodness topped with the wonders of their special chilli caramel sauce. The vegans of Brisbane are not left out either, Banh Mi Now has created an outstanding chilli soy nugget roll that even the meat-eaters are lining up for.
Scotts Road Deli
When we left Scotts off the list the first time around, there was an uproar from Brisbane banh mi lovers the likes of which we've never seen. Though we've not had the pleasure of trying them ourselves, ask any Vietnamese food fiend where to find the best banh mi in town and they'll tell you—this tiny spot in the heart of Darra, where they've been dishing up perfect rolls for over a decade, and still sell for them for no more than $5 a pop. Hot tip, they're cash only, so make sure you've got some change.
If you want truly authentic (not to mention seriously wallet-friendly) Vietnamese fare, Brisbane’s south west is the place to find it, and Minh Tan is the spot to go for perfect banh mi. Their standard rolls are all served with banh mi heroes—pate, butter, carrot, cucumber and coriander—but the bonus round comes with the options. Minh Tan takes the already irresistible banh mi formula and adds a whole hoard of choice to the equation, letting you load up on extras, and dowse it in chilli or keep it mild. Double pate anyone?
Banh Mi Factory
Whether it’s at their Zillmere outpost or their Carseldine market stall, Banh Mi Factory serves up traditional family-recipe banh mi, with options from tender, juicy pork to grilled beef, chicken and tofu. Pickle your carrots, julienne your cucumber and ready your tastebuds, because this eatery has generous servings, overloaded with flavour from their secret lemongrass and honey marinade. Banh Mi Factory is bound to get your mouth watering and nose running (depending on how much chilli you like).
Good banh mi is slightly harder to find on Brisbane’s north side, but Mister Bui is one spot serving up a roll worth travelling for. All the traditional flavours are on the menu—pork, crispy roast pork, grilled lemongrass pork, teriyaki chicken, meatball and teriyaki tofu—but it’s their breakfast banh mi that gets us salivating. Vietnamese meatballs and fried egg combine on a soft fluffy roll to create the breakfast of champions.
Milton, Bowen Hills, Brisbane CBD and South Bank
Mrs Luu’s has become renowned for their crowd favourite, The Three Little Piggies banh mi with Viet porchetta, BBQ pork and Viet ham. If that doesn’t float your boat (why not?), try the omelette banh mi with sautéed onions. Drool.
Porkees closely guards their homemade pate and mayo recipes, but they’re open about the amount of pride (and locally sourced ingredients) that go into their famous banh mis. Porkees add a dash of gourmet to their rolls with spring onion and soy on top of the traditional carrot, cucumber and coriander. Let your eyes graze before you choose from glazed chicken, marinated beef, caramelised pork (sorry, just dribbled everywhere) or the famous ‘Porkee,’ which involves three different types of cold cut pork. Don’t walk, run.
My Street Food Vietnamese
My Street Food Vietnamese lives up to their name and provides the delicious Vietnamese goods. Their banh mi has spicy lemongrass chicken and flame-grilled pork, topped with all the traditional fresh toppings and smothered in delicious house-made aioli.
Little Hoi An
Hidden like the precious gem it is, Little Hoi An offers an extensive range of banh mi, with the meat preparation styles spanning across the culinary terrain of grilling, roasting, frying and steaming. From chicken to beef and pork, there’s also some honey meatball banh mi’s on the menu, guaranteed to lock your taste buds and tongue into a lifelong craving contract. The only thing you’ll be left wanting is the recipe.
If a well balanced, fast and stomach-friendly lunch is what you’re after, look no further than Eat Mii, West End, aptly named, as all the rolls seem to scream these exact words. Picture it—the soft, flaky bread roll, bursting at its seams with either crispy pork, grilled chicken or beef, wedged alongside carrot, cucumber and a perfect amount of coriander. Top it off with homemade pate and butter, you’ve got a salty, sweet, light-but-rich lunch, right off a main road.
Viet Fresh Rolls
Viet Fresh Rolls is proof that lemongrass flavour compliments everything, their menu boasting three meats in the marinade; beef, chicken and pork. If you’re looking for something a little more groovy, there’s also BBQ chicken, as well as traditional pork, and an exclusive tuna and avocado roll. The rolls themselves are picturesque, the meat succulent and the vegetables fresh and crisp, giving you a chance you feel good as it tastes.
Despite being renowned for their ‘phat’ bowls, Phat Pho also dishes up a crafty banh mi. In the crusty baguette, you will find fresh coriander, cucumbers, pickled carrots, housemade mayonnaise and Hong’s special paté with your choice of marinated pork, chicken, nem nuong, beef, Viet style pulled pork or tofu. Say yes to adding chilli if you dare, but make sure you have a Vietnamese iced coffee on hand for when things heat up.
The Roll Shop
The Roll Shop takes pride in their huge range of banh mi flavours and combinations, but our favourite is definitely the sweet glazed grilled pork banh mi, complete with pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander and home-made mayo. Want to spice things up? We dare you to add hot chilli for that extra kick.
Situated in the heart of Fortitude Valley, it’s no surprise that District 1 is one of the best places to find authentic street food. Their banh mi—also known as the District 1 baguette—gives you traditional Vietnamese flavour with a modern spin. Choose from slow-roasted pork belly, xui mai (pork and water chestnut meatballs coated in a smooth tomato sauce), lemongrass beef or sautéed mushroom and caramelised onion and experience true baguette heaven.
Café O Mai
Café O Mai takes authentic Vietnamese flavours and gives them a Western twist. Head on down to try their lemongrass beef or pork crackling banh mi made with Byron Bay Berkshire pork and house made hoisin sauce. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, stop by for breakfast and try the bacon and egg banh mi.
As the name suggests, Urban Saigon brings exactly what it states—a little piece of international flavour and culture to its corner occupancy in Yeronga. The feast begins as you enter, as the menu flashes its colour and simplicity at you, and the large, ready-to-be-filled bread rolls sit patiently in the corner of the glass cabinet. At its best, Urban Saigon is street food that has been perfected for the interested wanderer, and the knowledgeable local. Wander in or make the trip.
Banh Mee Time
Put the ‘me time’ into your day with Banh Mee Time (BMT) and have a ‘treat yo’self’ moment the next time you’re in South Bank. It might be a small, hole-in-the-wall type place, but don’t let the size put you off, the flavour and care in the food is BIG. Vegetarian friendly, and dishing up some signature meats like crackling pork and deep fried soy chicken (peep the +$1 for these ones), BMT is like TNT for your mouth, but it leaves you feeling the opposite of crushed.
Little Saigon Grill
Little Saigon Grill’s banh mi are about as classic as you can get, with flavours ranging from BBQ pork to pepper pork terrine. Topped with aioli, pickled vegetables, all the greens and optional Sriracha sauce, Saigon knows exactly how to banh mi. If you’re feeling picky, Little Saigon Grill gives you the option to design your own, where you can choose up to 3 types of meat all in one tasty banh mi.
An Cafe And Banh Mi An
Kangaroo Point And Rocklea
If you’re after fresh, authentic and healthy Vietnamese food that lingers on your taste buds, An Cafe is the place—either at their Kangaroo Point cafe or their Rocklea Market stall. Their life goal is to sell the best Vietnamese pork roll, aka banh mi, anyone has ever had, and we can raise our hands to that. If pork isn’t your meat of choice, there are plenty more flavours to choose from, like lemongrass beef roll or a spicy tofu roll. Honestly, why not get them all.
Just off Fortitude Valley’s Brunswick Street is where you will find the wonders of Grumpy G’s banh mi. Our Vietnamese baguette of choice goes to their signature beef banh mi—filled with grilled lemongrass beef, pickled carrots, daikon radish, sliced cucumbers, fresh coriander, shallots, Grumpy G’s aioli and topped with mild chilli and black bean and sriracha sauce.
Bun at 8 Street
Hunt down 8 Street in Westfield Garden City’s food court and you can cure your shopping appetite at Bun Vietnamese Street Food. When it comes to Vietnamese street food and whipping up a delicious banh mi, Bun does it right. The choices are close to endless where you can top your banh mi with either lemongrass pork, chicken, beef or tofu. Best of all, Bun give you the option to mix two choices of meat on one banh mi—and we say you should always double up.
Love a fluffy roll? Check out Brisbane’s best bao buns here.
Image credit: Banh Mi Now, Ariana Gillrie