The Vietnamese Banh Mi has become a cornerstone of the modern Melburnian diet, and for good reason. It's packed with flavour, won’t break the bank, and can be eaten on the go.
The ingredients may vary from roll to roll but a traditional Banh Mi should have a crisp crust, soft textured inside, some form of crispy or barbecued meat (or mock meat for the vegos) and be stacked with cucumber, carrot, coriander, pate and chilli.
Here's where to find the best banh mi Melbourne in 2023:
Ca Com Bánh Mì Bar
The best Banh Mi in Melbourne debate can be fought and won here. A departure from your conventional Vietnamese bakery, Ca Com is the joint venture of chefs JY Lee and Thi Le (Anchovy, Jeow) who have developed this outpost on Bridge Road to critical acclaim, serving up some of the most picturesque and flavoursome Banh Mi in town. The options here are diverse, and the standards are truly life-changing with the revelatory crispy pork belly and charcoal grilled chicken, but you'll also find lesser-explored flavours like prawn-loaded numbers and terrine takes on the signature sanga.
Tia Con is a casual Vietnamese diner from the minds behind some of Melbourne’s OG food trucks, Nuoc Mama’s and Round The Way. Their classic pork banh mi goes damn hard, and if you catch them on the right day, they're often slinging specials—if you're feeling like something warm, get on their 12-hour slow-cooked brisket pho too.
Master Roll Vietnam
This authentic Vietnamese shop is serving up fresh street-style food that has long been loved by locals for an after-work or school bite. Churning out all the classics from Vietnamese rolls, vermicelli salads and pho, this traditional eatery is just a skip and a jump from South Yarra Station and is the #1 hotspot for all commuters.
Trang is a relative newcomer but their high-quality Banh Mi operation specialises in efficiently churning out some of the best buns outside of Vietnam. Now spread across five different locations in Melbourne, their popularity is not up for dispute. Their range of options only adds to their favour with lemongrass or bbq beef, pork, and chicken as well as plant-based options such as lemongrass tofu and faux bbq duck. If you’re not up for the carbohydrate intake there’s also the salad bowl option stacked with the usual suspects topped with a signature Vietnamese banh mi recipe dressing. These are hands down some of the best banh mi Melbourne has to choose from.
Tucked away in the Vietnamese stronghold of Victoria Street, this hidden little gem can be easily missed. A local favourite, Phuoc Thanh Hot Bead brings that original Vietnamese bakery feel. Their claim as some of the best banh mi in Melbourne for 2023 is backed up by crispy pork stacked rolls topped with hoisin, giving them that lethal sweet and salty combination.
'Ba No'i translates to Grandma in Vietnamese, and as they say, grandma does always know best. Banoi was opened by two cousins, Michael Nham and Viet Nguyen, who were inspired by their Grandma. Setting out to recreate their favourite dishes passed down through three generations, they’re serving one of Melbourne’s best banh mi in 2023. They’ve also got a happy hour every day from 4-6 pm where you can sip on all your favourite bevs starting at $4.
The Pho Nom juggernaut gained momentum for a reason. And that reason is their crispy fried chicken banh mi with Sriracha mayo. It began as a special back in 2015, but within a few weeks, Pho Nom realised they’d accidentally created some sort of superfood and added it to the permanent menu. We’re talking fried chicken bits with pickled carrot, cucumber, chilli, coriander, and crispy fried onion bits, all slathered in zingy Sriracha sauce.
If you live near Smith Street, you’re either Team N-Lee, Team Sunny’s or Team Trang. The three Vietnamese bakeries are very similar. All three do cheap bread, grilled meat and sandwiches and churn out some of Melbourne’s best banh mi on an industrial scale. Which one you favour is down to personal taste. For us, it's too close to call. Sunny's bread has that classic crust, the grilled pork is always juicy, and they go heavy on the carrot, grilled onions and coriander.
Saigon St Eats
BALACLAVA & FITZROY
This gem is known for its knock-out pho (they use a secret family recipe that’s carried them to soup success in Paris, Amsterdam, Saigon, and now Melbourne). But the banh mi is nothing to sniff at either. Fresh-baked French baguettes with carrots, pickled daikon, onions and a Saigon Eats ‘special sauce’. The grilled chicken or pork are both good, and you should probably double down with a plate of chicken & prawn spring rolls, served piping hot with lettuce cups, Vietnamese basil and dipping sauce. And for a vegetarian option, there’s a salt & pepper fried tofu banh mi.
Bun Bun Bakery
The OG of Melbourne Vietnamese cuisine. These guys were making banh mi before it was cool. Bun Bun churns out over 700 banh mi a day, and there’s always a steady queue outside at lunchtime—hungry diners impatiently waiting to tuck into a BBQ pork. This place is the epitome of old-school Melbourne eats. It’s not flashy or trendy. It doesn’t try to be cool. It just knows how to make incredible Vietnamese food, and makes a lot of it.
Also known as Chapel St’s best hangover cure, this banh mi is not your traditional sort. N Tran has opted for a softer rye roll over the Viet-French baguette. The fillings are Western-orientated too: think beetroot, cheddar cheese, sundried tomatoes and roasted mushrooms. The purists will roll their eyes and dismiss N. Tran as a Southside cop-out, but we’re here to tell you these rolls are bloody tasty. One more thing: always go with the ‘pork sauce’. Pro-tip.
Nguyen’s Hot Bread
Two words: pork crackling. Four more words: in a banh mi. Yep, you read that right. Nguyen’s does a pork crackling banh mi that comes with fresh roast pork, a fluffy-white baguette, a good lug of soy, house-made mayo and all the usual banh mi toppings. The crackling and pork combo is ludicrously good, and the cucumber, carrot and coriander help cut through the grease. They also smash out an all-day brekky menu; chasing a roast pork banh mi with a bacon and egg roll might just be the best idea we’ve ever had.
Hiding in plain sight on one of Footscray’s busiest strips, this place doesn’t look like much, but then that’s kind of the case with most of Melbourne’s best banh mi joints. To’s has created one of the best banh mi Melbourne has. It’s not too salty, and it comes with meaty pate, pickled veg and pork floss to boot. The staff are always friendly, and you can upgrade to ‘extra meat’ for $1.50. Highly recommended.
N Lee Bakery
We couldn’t include Sunny’s and not N. Lee. This place is a Smith Street staple for a reason. The combo of perfectly baked baguette, warm homemade pate and margarine, topped with grilled pork and tonnes of veg is an absolute winner, and the lunchtime queues prove that N. Lee does it better than most. The prices are cheap and always topped with a dusting of crispy shallots makes this a must for a couple of the best banh mi Melbourne on rotation.
Nhu Lan Bakery
No list of Melbourne’s best banh mi would be complete without, Nhu Lan. With one bakery on Victoria Street in Richmond and the other just past Footscray station, Nhu Lan makes some of Melbourne’s best authentic banh mi. Offering nine classic varieties including mixed ham and shredded or BBQ pork, this is one of the best banh mi Melbourne has to offer. Always happy to modify the fillings to your liking, vegetarians will be more than pleased with Nhu Lan’s flavour-heavy salad banh mi. This is one not to be missed in 2023.
Bullseye Banh Mi
If you take one look at the Instagram page of Bullseye, you’ll be convinced this is one of the best banh mi in Melbourne. Their generous rolls are served packed full of flavour, and overflowing with delicious crispy meats. For the vegos, there’s a braised tofu roll that’s equally as impressive. Their mission is to cook fresh, authentic and affordable Vietnamese food–exactly what we need in 2023.
A general rule for good food in Melbourne is to follow the lunchtime queues, and if you’re in the CBD that will lead you straight to Heartbaker BunMee. You can’t go past the crispy pork banh Mi here, it’s soft and juicy on the inside and oozing with flavour, with the perfect amount of crunch on the outside. Trust us, for some of the best banh mi in Melbourne, this one is worth the wait.
BRUNSWICK WEST, BROOKLYN
Hailed by locals as the best banh mi in Melbourne, this roll is worth waiting in line for. For something a bit different try Mister Truong's chicken schnitzel banh mi–it’s served in a soft, flaky roll and all of the ingredients are super high quality. While you’re there pick up a roast pork pho for the ultimate 2023 meal.
If you head to Tabac Bakery expect a traditional banh mi served in crunchy tiger bread. At just $5 this may just be some of the best banh mi Melbourne has (and cheapest). Their rolls are packed full of filing, which is probably why people from all over town come here for their food.
Anloi Deli & Marinades
Located inside Springvale Shopping Centre, Anloi Deli & Marinades serves up traditional Vietnamese meats on one end, and delicious fresh banh mi on the other. The highlight of these rolls is the caramelised onion served on top. Be warned, it can be chaotic on the weekends, but it’s worth it for this banh mi.
Opening a successful Vietnamese bakery and cafe in Richmond, one of the hot spots for good Vietnamese in Melbourne, is no mean feat. And that’s exactly what T&L have done. In three years they’ve built a cult following, thanks to their meat-lover and veggie-friendly rolls, which are all topped with roasted peanuts and fried shallots. Look for the line around 12:30 pm on Swan St and you’ll find this delicious spot.
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Image credit: Ca Com (supplied)