When I awoke this morning, my mind was bursting with a long “to do” list of errands and my stomach was nagging me to satiate its craving for Vietnamese food. There was only one solution for me and that was a trip to Ba Le for a bánh mì sandwich.
Most of my errands hovered around downtown Chicago and Ba Le has a spot in The Loop. However, I had no time or patience to linger on the long, loud lines of that location. Instead, I opted for the quiet, less crowed and original location in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. So, I left my South Loop ‘hood and hopped on the CTA Red Line heading north to the Argyle ‘L’ stop. The ride took me only 30 minutes and it was well worth the trip. I needed to be frugal. I needed to eat fast. Most importantly, I needed my lunch to be fresh, flavorful, filling and fabulous. Ba Le fulfilled all of the above requirements!
Ba Le in Uptown is located 1/2 block away from the entrance of the CTA Red Line Argyle ‘L’ stop. You cannot get much closer to “feeding off the rails” than this! This is a counter service sandwich shop which also offers traditional Vietnamese dishes at affordable prices. It has been doing business in this Chicago neighborhood since 1988. In addition to French/Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Ba Le sells soups, appetizers, salads, noodle and rice dishes, assorted pastries and desserts. There are vegetarian and vegan options as well. If you are looking to cook some Vietnamese food at home, there is a refrigerated retail section with some interesting Vietnamese items for purchase.
Today, I ordered a classic bánh mì sandwich of lemongrass pork sausage with lemon fish sauce. It was topped with the classic accompaniments of mayonnaise, pickled daikon and carrots, onions, cilantro and jalapeno pepper. There are 14 other classic bánh mì options on the menu as well as 8 specialty bánh mì sandwiches.
Ba Le bakes all of its bread in-house so it is crispy, fresh and delicious every day. They also sell their bread to both retail customers and other restaurants in this Asian-centric neighborhood.
Ba Le is a Michelin Guide Recommended establishment and it has accumulated accolades from Zagat, Time Out and other well-known publications and media outlets.
Ba Le in Uptown is located at 5014 N. Broadway at the corner of Argyle St. It is open every day from 7am – 9pm. For more information visit www.balesandwich.com.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line to Ba Le. Save gas money. Avoid traffic and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!