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IRL: 'Taste of Vietnam' Sampling Party at New Wicker Park Banh Mi Eatery

By Alisa Hauser | April 22, 2014 2:25pm | Updated on May 1, 2014 8:34am
 Banh Mi & Co. plans to open on May 1 in Wicker Park.
Banh Mi and Co. New Wicker Park Outpost
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WICKER PARK — DNAinfo's latest "IRL" event drew dozens to the new Banh Mi & Co.'s restaurant in Wicker Park Wednesday night. Check out the social media activity from the event.


The Vietnamese eatery specializes in sandwiches and "street food," opened its fifth neighborhood outpost on a busy stretch of Division Street packed with cafes, boutiques, bars and restaurants.

"When it comes to food I am the pickiest person; Vietnamese food is the best Asian food across the board," said Banh Mi & Co's co-owner John Sanchez, who added that the frequent use of cilantro and jalapenos makes Vietnamese food similar in flavor to Mexican cuisine.

"American people think sandwiches should be big and fat. Our sandwiches will fill you up but not leave you feeling gorged," Sanchez said.

On Monday, Sanchez was busy preparing for the restaurant's opening at 1740 W. Division St., which he said could "happen anytime."

Banh mi is a Vietnamese term for a kind of sandwich served on a baguette roll. The sandwich usually has meat or tofu on it and is topped with pickled carrots and radishes, as well as cucumber.

While Banh mi sandwiches are the focal point of the restaurant's menu, the eatery also offers meat and vegetable pho soups, salads and spring rolls.  View the full menu here.

 John Sanchez, co-owner of Banh Mi & Co. a Vietnamese sandwich chain that is opening its fifth location in Wicker Park soon.
John Sanchez, co-owner of Banh Mi & Co. a Vietnamese sandwich chain that is opening its fifth location in Wicker Park soon.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Located just east of Division and Wood Street in a storefront that briefly housed an ice cream parlor, the Wicker Park Banh Mi & Co is nestled between Caffe Streets, at 1750 W. Division St.  and Alliance Bakery at 1736 W. Division St.

Designed by local artist Robert Soller, the interior of the restaurant, which offers counter service, features a mock storefront with a tin ceiling that says "Fashion" and walls painted shades of "Botanical Green" and maroon.

"We tried to make it look like a street in Vietnam," Sanchez said.

To celebrate the opening of Banh Mi & Co's Wicker Park location, Sanchez and business partner Le Trinh are invited DNAinfo Chicago readers to enjoy a "Taste of Vietnam sampling" private party on April 30.

Ticket holders enjoyed sample bites of all sandwiches on the menu (BBQ pork, Saigon classic, Lemongrass chicken or tofu, veggie, grilled beef), soup, spring rolls, salads and desserts. 

To wash everything down, there was be Lychee lemonade, Vietnamese coffee and soft drinks too.

"Our goal is to let people try everything all at once and to help educate them on Vietnamese food," Sanchez said

Banh Mi & Co., 1740 W. Division St.   Hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday-Sunday. Ph: 773-486-8889. The restaurant is BYOB and  offers dine-in, delivery and take-out. For updates, visit Banh Mi & Co's Facebook page or Twitter, @Banhmico.