[Photograph: Lindsey Becker]

It's too easy to walk into Ba Le, take one look at the menu, and order the Number 1: the classic bánh mì. There are too many other options without much description, so the threat of disappointment seems too great to deviate from The Usual. But as Nick recently found out, sometimes switching things up and going the nontraditional route pays off.

Next time you're craving the assurance of satisfaction that comes with a well-known classic but want something a little different, the Meatball Bánh Mì ($3.95) is a great place to start. You still get the great baguette—so light and crispy that both my companion and I were showered in a tiny explosion of crumbs when I first bit into my sandwich—and you still get the usual bánh mì toppings, but complexly flavored pork meatballs replace the more common sliced meats. The meatballs are really more like tangy, sweet meat crumbles, but I can see why they went with "meatballs" instead. Whatever you want to call them, they make for a great bánh mì filling.

Ba Le

5014 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60640 (map)


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