I was at BRU in Boulder this weekend when I overheard someone at a nearby table declare that Coloradans love banh mi. The comment caught my attention because A) it was a strong statement and B) just minutes before I had ordered that exact dish.
As I waited for my lunch to arrive, I pondered the local rise of this Vietnamese-style sandwich. Nationally, the banh mi craze seemed to take hold in 2010 and it swept into the Denver area a few months later. Ever since, the spicy-sweet-crunchy-chewy combination of baguette, pickled vegetables, and layered meats, has landed on menus all around town: I've ordered the sandwich from spots as various as Marczyk Fine Foods' deli counter, LoHi coffeeshop Gallop Cafe, Ba Le Sandwich on Federal Boulevard, and the Universal in Sunnyside.
The banh mi has also found its way to the mountains—and specifically to Park & Main in Breckenridge. This low-key, locals' cafe is home to my favorite version. In building this dish, chef Todd Nelson doesn't do anything fancy: He simply layers high-quality ingredients, including braised Berkshire pork shoulder and prosciutto cotto, with the requisite cucumber, pickled carrot and jalapeño, cilantro, and chili mayo on a toasted baguette. The end result is a messy, stacked sandwich that's big enough to feed two. I get it wrapped to go and eat it along the Peaks Trail—just don't forget the napkins.
—Photo via Shutterstock