Downtown Lunch: Long Lines Plague the New Banh Mi Cart

Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)

Downtown Lunch: Banh Mi Cart

After spotting the story on Cheap Ass Foods yesterday morning, Zachypoo emailed me frantically to check out the new banh mi cart on the corner of St. Johns and Water street. So I knew I had to scope out the situation ASAP. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who saw the post, because the line was really damn long! Fuggging BLOGS!! I wanted my banh mi NOW! But I had to wait… and wait I did.

Downtown Lunch: Banh Mi Cart

Each sandwich is sloooooowly made to order, so if there’s a line prepare to wait. Part of me wants to think that they just need to work out the kinks, and they were just slammed yesterday because of the coverage on Midtown Lunch (wishful thinking on our part!), but according to a commenter yesterday, this is a common problem:

Only go if you have 30-40 minutes to devote to the effort. I was expecting 20 mins, but these guys really don’t have it down yet. He has to wash the pan between each type of meat he cooks, which means he has to turn the gas off and on every time he is done. They need another person in that truck to do prep/clean. I waited 15 minutes and had only gotten to the front of the line – people who were waiting for their sandwiches when I got there had still not received them.

Downtown Lunch: Banh Mi Cart

It took about 20-25 minutes before I finally got my sandwich. The #1 is 5 bucks and comes on a baguette stuffed with cucumber, cilantro, hot sauce, and 3 kinds of pork (there was definitely pate, but I’m not sure what the other forms of the sweet swine were).

Downtown Lunch: Banh Mi Cart

So… was it as good as the Chinatown ones? Well, it was similar but considering that the wait was almost half an hour, in that same amount of time you could walk to Sau Voi Corp on the corner of Lafayette and Walker street and get the same sandwich, for $3.75 (it takes 15 minutes, I timed it.)  Also I think they slather some mayo on their version which makes it a bit yummier.

I’d personally save the $1.25 and walk off the calories, but if you don’t have the time- this cart will do in a pinch. They also offer a few nice sounding white-folk-options you won’t find in C-town, such as the grilled chicken with onions ($5). I’m tempted to try their pork roll and eggs baguette but for $6 I could almost get two in Chinatown.

And obviously if you’re willing to walk even farther, Banh Mi Saigon Bakery has the biggest contender for your dollar in the form of a two fister roasted pork sandwich (also only $3.75.)  I guess the question is, how much is $1.25 worth to you?

Banh Mi Cart, Corner of John & Water

Related: Downtown Lunch: Banh Mi Battle Royale

Photos and post by Daniel Kreiger



  • For Midtowners I would highly recommend Baoguette for your $5 expenditure. Closer, shorter wait, and daaaaaaamn good.

  • Concur. I thought it was you snapping pics that was holding the line, :( it still took 30 min to get my chow after you left. Was a bit on the dry side.

  • I am just finishing off my delectable Shredded Chicken Banh Mi. The baguette is fresh and crunchy and the sandwich is delicious. The spring rolls are also great. The only problem is, the sandwich is so good, I want another one right now.

  • hahahaha, nice sounding white folk options.

    see what us immigrants do for you white folks?

  • Walking to Boi from 40th and 5th, paying $8+ for a veggie Banh Mi is getting old fast. If I had the cash I would open my own Chi-town Banh mi spot in midtown and make a killing.

  • yeah i must have totally missed the rush hour cuz when i got there at noon there was not a soul in sight!!! and um yeah 5 dollars is pricey for a friggin vietnamese hoagie i can get in htown for 2 bucks!… but i will try every hoagie on the menu before i call it quits for this place…gotta stay tru to my viet peeps!

  • I was there around 1:30pm and it was a solid 40 minute wait. I do agree that it might be faster to just go to Chinatown. I’m hoping they figure out a way to streamline the sandwich making process because I’m desperate for Vietnamese snacks down here.

  • I was just there. no wait, quick preparation. They have added new entries and there’s a number you can call to order ahead for pickup. Still yummy!!!

  • hey whats going on, i went to john & water street looking to get a banh mi from the banh mi cart that i saw on your blog, i couldnt find it. do you know where they went???????????

  • went today- it’s on pearl street now near Ulysses. 30 minute wait but really yummy sandwich. it’s $6 now.

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    I would normally think it is worth it to wait in line for GOOD food, but is it really worth it? Do you actually have time to wait? Check out to gauge whether you should wait on that ridiculous line!

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