Right up there with coffee and pizza, Vietnamese pho and banh mi have become staples of the New Yorker’s diet. From cult-favorite sandwich shops to upscale sit-down restaurants, there are plenty of places to get in on this new classic cuisine. The next time you’re craving comfort, grab a table at one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in New York City.
Bánh Mì Saigon
Restaurant, Sandwich Shop, Vietnamese, $$$
Little Italy’s Bánh Mì Saigon has been making traditional Vietnamese sandwiches, or banh mi, since 1989. Nearly three decades and 1,330 Yelp reviews later, the casual counter is now a cult favorite for house-made baguettes loaded with Vietnamese ham and pâté, beef stew, mixed vegetables, and more.
The contemporary menu at Astoria’s District Saigon is best perused with a Vietnamese-inspired cocktail in hand. Here, brunch consists of banh mi bursting with steak and eggs, and bar snacks entail Vietnamese-spiced fries with barbecue peanuts and avocado mayo. Also, notoriously meat-heavy pho is made vegan to great effect.
Classics with class are what’s on the menu at OBAO, a Thai and Vietnamese restaurant with locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown East, and the Financial District. Vietnamese pork chops in fish sauce and honey and banh mi brimming with marinated short ribs are enjoyed beneath gleaming overhead lights, a play on traditional paper lanterns.
Join the trendy clientele at Bushwick’s Bunker for Vietnamese street food by way of Brooklyn. In a space modeled after a hawker market, this cool eatery serves up refreshing papaya salad with house-made beef jerky, vegan noodle soup, and a Viet take on surf and turf involving crab spring rolls, short ribs, and vermicelli.
Plant-based patrons can get in on the fun (and the pho) too at Lucy’s Vietnamese Kitchen. First-generation cooks interpret classic dishes, resulting in vegetable-focused vermicelli bowls, summer rolls, and some of the best pho in New York City that just happens to be meatless.
Dishes native to Hanoi shine at this St. Mark’s staple, one of the few places in New York City serving authentic bun cha. Order the street food dish of pork meatballs with rice noodles at Hanoi House, along with Hanoi-style beef pho, papaya and pig ear salad, and crunchy pork and crab spring rolls.
The home cooking at Madame Vo likely doesn’t resemble the stuff you whip up in your apartment. The garlicky chicken wings caramelized in fish sauce, coconut juice-braised spare ribs and Vietnamese fried rice with meaty prawns, sausage, and egg look as good as they taste, which, incidentally, is delicious. Visit this East Village eatery to be inspired to up your own home-cooking game (and snap a few shots for the ‘gram in the process).
The bustling, fast-casual Saiguette is a one-stop shop for cuisine staples done right. Grilled chicken banh mi, bun (vermicelli), bowls, and beef-loaded pho will satisfy your Viet craving, while family recipe soups such as Pho Nam Bang and Pho Bok Choy will inspire your next one.