When I started this site a week ago, I had planned on only sharing my recipes. Instead, I’ve decided to expand from these initial intentions and give you some tips about places I like to eat, in and around Austin. Although I like to think I know good food, I’m not a critic, so you won’t find negative reviews. I’m not in the business of bashing, and this is intended to be a positive and inspiring food website. If I I’ve eaten something that wasn’t tasty, you won’t find it here.
Banh mi is one of my favorite foods to eat for lunch. Vietnamese cuisine has a distinct French influence and this sandwich is proof. The sandwich is typically made from a baguette filled with meat, pickled vegetables, cucumber and cilantro. Coldcuts including headcheese and pate are the meat component of the most traditional rendition. After moving to Austin, I needed to find a place to satisfy my banh mi fix. That place is the Baguette House & Cafe.
The restaurant is located in North Austin in the Chinatown Center. There are a variety of Asian restaurants to choose from including Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese options. The Baguette House is tucked away in the back corner. I gauge how authentic an ethnic restaurant is going to be by the faces of the patrons filling it. Every time I go to the Baguette House, there’s always a few tables full of older Vietnamese men sitting around tables eating food and drinking coffee; in my opinion a good sign.
The menu is focused around sandwiches. There are a few other non sandwich options but I don’t really pay these any attention, well because frankly, I’m there for the banh mi. The menu boasts ten different kinds to choose from. My personal favorite is the grilled pork but I prefer to add pate for even more flavor. The bread is light but crisp, flaky and has a slight chew. Slices of crisp cucumber span the length of the sandwich along side sweet pickled carrots and daikon radish. To top it all off are a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. For those that like a little spice, slices of jalapeño peppers are served on the side. Bottles of hot chile paste and sriracha are available too.
I also like to order the pate Chaud. Pate chaud is a savory pastry. At the Baguette House, the outside is a flaky, buttery puff pastry. It encompasses a moist delicious center of meaty goodness. The rich pastry is a good counterpoint to the light, fresh sandwich.
What makes this place even better is it won’t leave a dent in your wallet. We ordered three sandwiches, two pate chaud and a Vietnamese coffee for only $23. Now what’s not to love about that? The sandwiches aren’t the heartiest but are a good size for lunch.
So next time you’re in North Austin and are looking for a bite to eat, check out the Baguette House and eat banh mi.