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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.
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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