Not to go all foodie on you, but a couple of years ago there was a big discussion going on about the best Banh Mi place in Portland, whether it was Cali Sandwiches on Glisan or Maxim's on Broadway. Because I was a broadminded sort and always interested in a new taste treat, I checked out several of them. What I found were sandwiches made with a very light, 8" white bun that was split and filled with various chopped vegetables and meat and spread with an aioli dressing. Mostly I found them squishy and not very interesting, even for the $2.50 price tag.
Then our neighbors brought over the Banh Mi from Lanvin and I was knocked out by the difference. The bun, while still light, had much more body than those I'd tried before, and the fillings were way more interesting than the others, with the vegetables and dressing playing off the spicy complexity of the meat. And for the same $2.50, I was sold.
Plus someone at this outpost has some serious pastry chef chops, the case being filled with gorgeous (and appetizing) croissants, pain au noix and buns. Notice the little butter-flake swans in the upper right of the pasty counter (left). And don't be shy about trying their other savory treats like the petit chaud and Banh Bao.
As mentioned below, this place is hidden, tucked away in the parking lot behind the Pho Oregon building. Also, there are no tables, with everything sold to-go, so plan on carting your goodies home or to the nearest park for a memorable picnic. And let me know if you think this place rocks, or if you have a nominee for someplace better. Just click on the comments link below!
Details: Lanvin, 8211 NE Brazee in the parking lot behind the Pho Oregon building. Phone 503-252-0155.