“Banh mi” is the Vietnamese term for bread, and Dong Phuong Bakery in eastern New Orleans is known to have the best French bread in the city. When I saw people leaving with shopping bags full of bread, it was clear that this place is no secret. They’re also known for banh mi sandwiches (readers of Eat NOLA named it the best bahn mi in New Orleans last year). These start with their house-made bread, which is filled with lightly pickled carrots, cucumber, jalapeño slices, homemade aioli, and your choice of meat (I get the #4, which is Chinese barbecue pork). The bread is soft and crusty on the outside, and the fillings are fresh, crunchy, and flavorful. My cravings for these sandwiches is to the point that I take a 20-minute detour home from New Orleans to pick up a few of these to go (it’s located along Chef Menteur Highway). Another bonus: at under $4 a sandwich, this is probably the best lunch deal in the city.
Dong Phuong consists of both a bakery and a restaurant. The banh mi and sandwiches are served up on the bakery side. I also go crazy for their Vietnamese iced coffee, which is sweetened and strong, and you can buy at the counter on the north side of the restaurant (if you’re in the bakery, walk though the doorway into the restaurant, then continue walking straight along the front of the restaurant). You won’t see a menu, but they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about when you order it.
There are lots of other goodies, both savory and sweet, and they make their own King Cake during carnival season. I usually get some cinnamon rolls to warm up the next morning, or coconut rolls to make into French toast. I wish there were more gems like this, or at least Vietnamese coffee stands that sell banh mi sandwiches.