With all of the summer recipes I’ve been posting I noticed it has been a while since I wrote something about a Chicago neighborhood eatery. I think I may have said this before but being a real estate broker is great for exploring Chicago and uncovering little gems you normally wouldn’t know about. And there are so many out there! Up on Lawrence Avenue just west of Western in Lincoln Square sits a tiny little Vietnamese bakery called Nhu Lan, and they have some fantastic, out-of-this world delicious Bánh Mi sandwiches.
Ok, so what’s a Bánh Mi? A fluffy, light mini French baguette stuffed with some sort of meat (or tofu), pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumbers, and maybe some jalapeno. Crunchy, tangy, spicy. Great combination and flavor for a sandwich. At Nhu Lan it’ll cost you less than $4.00. I usually get the grilled pork with everything which costs $3.95. That’s 3 dollars and 95 cents for the sandwich pictured above. Oh, and they make them fresh while you wait. Can’t beat that.
Inside Nhu Lan there are a couple of tables so you can dine in or take your sandwich to go. There’s even one of those “15 minutes with flashing lights” parking spaces out front for a quick run in to make a pick-up. In addition to the almost 20 different kinds of sandwiches offered you can also nosh on some small meat pies, shrimp rolls, or spring rolls. I haven’t tried the spring rolls yet but they seem to be quite popular. Every time I’m in there someone is taking a package of them out of the cooler. You can also grab a bag of 3 freshly baked mini baguettes for 99¢. That’s 3 loaves, 99 cents. To wash it all down you can order a mango smoothie (or other fruit flavor), get an iced Vietnamese coffee, or grab a soda/water/juice.
A few weekends ago one of Cheryl’s friends who has traveled quite a bit in Vietnam was visiting so we took him here. He was duly impressed, though quick to add Nhu Lan’s Bánh Mi were much more filling (bigger) than in Vietnam. Ah Chicago, taking good things and making them better by giving you Midwest portions. Win-win!
It seems Nhu Lan also knows they have a good thing as they have added a second store in Lakeview near Belmont and Broadway. I haven’t been to this store yet but I’d guess they offer most of the same items but with Lakeview prices. Lincoln Square, Lakeview, it doesn’t matter. Just put this place on your list. You won’t be disappointed!
Nhu Lan Bakery – 2612 W Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL
Nhu Lan Saigon Subs – 602 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago IL