I don’t know that I’ve ever met a banh mi I didn’t like. However, the granddaddy– er, mama– of banh mi in Cincinnati is not at Pho Lang Thang, but instead at the teeny-tiny cafe in the main branch of the Public Library, Le’s Cafe. The place is really small– if you don’t look for it, you could easily miss it– but easy to find if you’re looking. Just find the Friends of the Public Library store and walk past, and you’ll be right there.
Le’s Cafe offers some American fare, like chicken sandwiches and hot dogs, but also offers Asian dishes, like lo mein, pot stickers, and crab rangoon. What they’re known for is the banh mi, and they had it last Saturday.
I love the Public Library– in case you can’t tell– and stopped by only to return a book, but ended up in the Friends store. They sell books (and gifts) there all year long, and I ended up scoring a copy of the French Laundry cookbook for $15– and it benefits the library. So I took my book and sandwich (the book, sandwich, and drink setting me back a total of $19.25) to eat it in the garden right off of Walnut Street.
For $3, this sandwich is a steal. It’s barbecued pork, pate, cilantro, radish, carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeno on a crisp, chewy baguette. It’s perfect for nibbling in the outdoor garden while reading a book, which is exactly what I did. I wish I could go there more often, but since I’m not downtown much during the day, I’ll have to settle for stealing away on a Saturday afternoon to read and people watch and munch on what is now my favorite banh mi.