Saigon Sandwich: Brilliant Banh Mi in the Tenderloin

Banh Mi San Francisco

Saigon Sandwich shines on a rough stretch in the Tenderloin.

Larkin is a dingy street on the Tenderloin’s western perimeter that houses some of the most exciting Vietnamese restaurants in San Francisco, including the graffiti strewn Saigon Sandwich shop. Saigon Sandwich has only two seats, so be prepared to take your meal to go, but a visit to this tiny store is always worth the minor inconvenience.

Banh Mi Menu San Francisco

A green board lists 10 Banh Mi varieties: Vietnamese baguette sandwiches.

Saigon Sandwich banh mi options include Thit (Roast Pork), Cha Lua (“Fanci” Pork) and Thit Cha Pate – a “Special Combination” ($3.25) of Steam Pork, Roast Pork and Pate. There’s even the dreaded Chay (Tofu), if you’re so inclined. They cram every other square inch of counter and shelf space with packaged Vietnamese snacks, both savory and sweet.

Banh Mi San Francisco

Special Combination – Thit Cha Pate – may be Saigon Sandwich’s masterpiece, fusing creamy pate with roast pork and ham.

Every Saigon sandwich contains julienned carrots and daikon for crunch, plus cilantro and mayo. There are also jalapeños that haven’t been de-veined or de-seeded, meaning they’ve got some bite.

Banh Mi San Francisco

Ga – Roast Chicken ($2.75) – cradles big chunks of peppery dark meat.

Banh Mi San Francisco

Xiu Mai – Meat Ball Pork ($2.75) – featured an identical complement of accompaniments, plus crumbly pork meatballs that are well seasoned and absolutely luscious.

San Francisco is known to be an expensive city, but Saigon Sandwich defies the economy by continuing to be a bargain culinary treasure.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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