Ba Le Bakery
5014 N Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60640
Ba Le is such an old favorite we can’t believe that we haven’t written about it before. Honestly though, the more often we go to a place, the more often we assume we have already written about the place (as is the case with our favorite restaurant in Madison, Greenbush Tavern). Oops! In any case, Ba Le is certainly someplace you should not overlook. Their specialty is the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich, and they are hugely popular. Ba Le does one of our favorite classic banh mi sandwiches, with crispy-yet-tender baguettes, pickled carrot and daikon slaw, cilantro, a little (never too much) mayo and jalapeno peppers. You can get a variety of meat fillings; our favorites are lemongrass chicken and roast pork (though you can also do vegetarian if you are so inclined). We also just realized there is even an incongruous prosciutto banh mi – anyone tried it?
We appreciate the sandwiches at banh mi because the combination of all of the essential banh mi elements works so well together. The baguette is always fresh, and not soggy, and there is never too much mayo. Of course, part of the appeal of Ba Le is the price – most of the sandwiches are less than $5 – and if you buy 5 sandwiches, you get the 6th free. So definitely bring some friends, or stock up for work lunches (don’t worry we won’t tell). Other entrees include noodle salads and salad rolls, but we’re all about the banh mi.
Along with banh mi sandwiches, there are a large variety of take-out dishes and snacks in the front of the store. If you are thirsty, you can get the ubiquitous Cafe du Monde laden Thai iced coffee, bubble tea, or even some more original tea varieties, like chrysanthemum. There is also a selection of Vietnamese desserts up front, such as a variety of delectable che puddings and sugary cookies. Of course, we are also drawn to the selection of French macarons, with some delectable tropical flavors like mango and passion fruit. Though we have tried several spots around town for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, we always keep going back to Ba Le. It never disappoints!