Before boarding the party bus to Baja this past weekend (lots more details to come), I stopped by Mr. Baguette to grab a banh mi for the road. We wouldn’t be arriving in Tijuana until sometime past eleven, so a solid dinner was definitely in order.
Mr. Baguette follows a similar business philosophy to Lee’s Sandwiches. The space is sanitized and well-lit, orders are efficiently punched into a computer, and the menu is free of pesky and confusing Vietnamese. As a result, the crowd is diverse enough to make the Swarthmore admissions office proud.
What sets Mr. Baguette apart from the local banh mi crowd is their devotion to baking authentic French baguettes. While The Astronomer and I were waiting for our sandwiches to be prepared, we perused the formal-looking letters that lined the shop’s wall. They appeared to be from the office of the French consulate praising Mr. Baguette for its impeccable bread. Impressive? Oui!
As a result of its superior loaves, Mr. Baguette charges a dollar more than competitors.
Even though the menu only contained English, I stubbornly ordered in Vietnamese so that I knew exactly what I was getting. My “Special” banh mi ($3.35) was slathered with even coats of mayonnaise and pate, and contained two varieties of cold cuts—cha (pork forcemeat) and head cheese. The requisite pickled vegetables and jalapeños were served in a baggie on the side; there were no cucumbers or cilantro to speak of. The ratio of bread to filling was just my style.
Mr. Baguette really does produce a lovely loaf. It was crisp, sturdy, well-portioned, and very fresh. Whether or not it merits an extra dollar is in the eye of the eater. For me, it was worth the splurge.
The Astronomer really liked his “Grilled Pork” and “Meatball” sandwiches as well. He proclaimed Mr. Baguette “up there” with our favorite banh mi shops. I agree.
8702 Valley Boulevard
Rosemead, CA 91770-1712