Tan Ba Le, Baguettes and Fast Food, 11169 Beechnut @ Boone This restaurant has changed names and is now known as Bo Ne Houston after its most famous dish, Vietnamese Steak and Eggs.
I first saw this place several months ago but only recently got around to trying it. I thought it was new but maybe not. I ordered two banh mi; I saw the long baguettes on the counter and assumed they would be cut in half but it turned out they already had - each sandwich measured 11" in length. This place could up its American appeal by advertising them as foot longs. The bread was lightly toasted just before the sandwich was assembled; I got a pork bbq and a vegetarian one. Both had a very rich mayo, tons of shredded carrots with just a few shreds of daikon, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno. The meat in the pork bbq was a bit overcooked and dried out; in fact as she was preparing it the server was picking out some pieces and discarding them in the trash. The meat was very flavorful, however. The bread was amazing, I think the lightest, least dense and chewy Vietnamese baguette I've ever had but the sandwich's size was too much for me, I got a meal, a late night snack and a breakfast snack out of these.
As they were putting the rubber band on my first sandwich and starting on the second one I saw their steak and eggs platter come out; the place was doing a good business but I hadn't had to pass by any occupied tables on the way to the counter so hadn't gotten a good look at anything but I immediately thought I'd have to come back and try one of those. When I had first spotted this place I had looked it up on line but found nothing. Now I find that it had been blogged about last fall, specifically the steak and egg dish, bo ne, the house specialty, and I had missed the report or I certainly wouldn't have taken so long to get around to trying this place.
The staff has been very friendly and helpful; the menu board is mostly Anglicized Vietnamese.
My pork bbq sandwich was $3; the vegetarian one was $2.
Parisian Bakery III + Cafe, 8300 W. Sam Houston Parkway South, @ Beechnut in the Viet Hoa Center
Ziggy Smogdust turned me on to these last year. There are two other locations, one on Beechnut @ Wilcrest and one on Gessner @ Harwin. I've been to the Wilcrest location and like this one better; it's a bit cheerier and more friendly and it's also closer to me.
The baguettes here are shorter than Tan Ba Le (8"), fatter though and a little denser and chewier. I got the bbq pork banh mi here, too (and I nearly always get a pate chaud when I go here). What really stood out on this was the huge amount of meat; it was tender, not overcooked, but didn't have as much of the marinade and wasn't quite as flavorful - but there was a lot. There were also a few larger strips of daikon in the toppings, visibly identifiable but not really noticeable taste-wise, which otherwise were identical to Tan Ba Le, the cilantro was pretty bland.
The sandwich was $3, the pate chaud $1.25.
Comparing these two, I'd give the edge to Tan Ba Le, though I'd have to admit it was my first visit. I preferred the bread and that it was toasted just a bit, and, though it was overcooked, the more flavorful meat. Meat lovers might prefer Parisian however I'm sure the sandwiches differ from visit to visit depending on whose making them. I wouldn't avoid either place and it'll be partially a matter of convenience for me which one I go to.
Both the above places sell their baguettes separately. At Parisian, the 8" baguettes are 3 for a $1; each weighs about 3 oz. At Tan Ba Le, a full 22" baguette is $1 and weighs 6 oz.
Saldivia's South American Grill,
Saldivia's has moved to 10850 Westheimer
In my explorations of South American cuisine over the past couple of years I learned that some version of a steak sandwich is very popular in several South American countries, in some said to be as popular as hamburgers in the USA. In Uruguay it's called a Chivito but despite the name there is no goat in a Chivito. I saw some awesome pictures of the sandwich online and when I found out we had a Uruguayan restaurant that served one, I had to try it out. Saldivia's, which is very new but recreates an earlier restaurant by the same owner, serves the dishes of both Argentina and Uruguay.
I fell in love with the room and it's rich woodwork; it's the former space of Cafe Malay, I think. Despite the somewhat upscale setting, the restaurant has the feel of a neighborhood cafe for expats and the owner, Gus, is a very friendly guy who likely will welcome you at the door and treat you like a friend.
The sandwich includes a grilled steak, thin slice of deli ham, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg served on a slightly crunchy and chewy baguette and was very tasty. I think the egg may have been fried in butter; even the tomato stood out - as tasty as home grown. The roasted potatoes were a little tough and chewy. There is chimichurri on the table which I had tried with an empanada and the complimentary mini-baguette appetizer but I found it too vinegary and didn't try any on the sandwich.
I've had the Churrasco sandwich at Marini's and the Lomito, a virtually identical Argentinan steak sandwich at El Gaucho and this is the best example of a South American steak sandwich I've had by a wide margin.
There are some other interesting entries on the menu including grilled mollejas on the appetizer menu. Besides the menu shown online there is a daily lunch special, Monday thru Friday, for $8.95.
As of my visit a couple of weeks ago there was zero signage along Westheimer and the restaurant, hidden in the back row of a strip center behind the Brookwood Gift Shop, is easy to miss.
City Eats, 4003 B Rustic Oaks Dr., Kingwood (faces West Houston Parkway) - CLOSED
My first taste of Sabrett's hot dogs and the typical condiments and I was underwhelmed. I bought a pound of the wieners to bring home so I could try them with some different condiments and decided I liked the Sabrett's wiener a little better than the Vienna Beef wieners used in Chicago Style Dogs because of the slight smokiness but it didn't have as much snap. I like a Nathan's Natural Casing dog over both Sabrett's and Vienna Beef, however, The Sabrett's onion sauce would take some getting used to - there really isn't that much onion in it, at least as far as bits and pieces. Besides selling the wieners (in strings, not pre-packed and cry-o-wrapped) they carry all the condiments - Sabrett's onion sauce, sauerkraut and mustard - and they also serve Italians. The website doesn't mention it nor did the in-store menu but signs in the window and on the counter said they are now serving Zweigle's White Hots from Rochester.
I went thinking I would be coming home with some of the mustard, onion sauce and kraut, but having tasted the first two, I just bought the wieners. I have to say, I saw a burger being served and it looked pretty good.