It’s not uncommon to find yourself running amok in Midtown on a hot summer day and suddenly becoming very aware of your far-too-empty stomach. Amid the twists and turns of one- and two-way streets is Les Givral’s Sandwich and Café, the fast-casual Vietnamese mainstay that we expect to live on long after others of its nature have come and gone, as it already has endured to the delight of its many devotees.
Maneuver your way into their shared parking lot (and we mean it when we say maneuver), and if you arrived any time after 11:30 a.m., be prepared to wait for a bit in a long, but quick-moving line. The quaint café greets you with a choose-your-own option for bright, refreshing spring rolls, and egg rolls worthy of any “best of” list. Les Givral’s offers a variety of tasty pho, rice, and vermicelli bowls, but their pride and joy are their delectably wallet-friendly banh mi sandwiches.
Surprisingly light with their fluffy yet crunchy baguettes (beware the roof-of-the-mouth scratches, however), crisp and perfectly pickled vegetables, and, in this writer’s opinion, the best chargrilled pork in the area, the banh mi sandwich is the perfect meal for the hungry Houstonian on the go. If you’re so “on the go” that you must order take out, however, an in-car lunch might be a little difficult with the precious bread crumbles and bits of cilantro that tend to fall out of this meal. I recommend enjoying at the cafe or waiting until you arrive at your next destination to savor every bite.
Though the restaurant seems to have rid themselves of their soda fountain, they do offer a fridge full of prepackaged beverages, along with their sweet café sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee). Les Givral’s also provides a counter of traditional sauces for you to portion out for yourself.
This particular spot is so adored that many readers will probably roll their eyes as if the wonder of Les Givral’s banh mi is old news, but sometimes we must be sure to sing the praises of the old to be sure that they remain untouched and everlasting.