Slideshow: The Best Bánh Mì in Chicago

Ba Le (Special - $3.95), 21 points
Ba Le (Special - $3.95), 21 points
The Bread (9/10 points): The crust is browned and crackly, while the insides are soft and light. But what really sets Ba Le's bread apart is its thinness: the bread stood up to the fillings without getting in the way. If the bread were warm, this would have been nearly perfect. The Main Ingredient(s) (8/10 points): Keeping with the theme of balance, the three fillings were lightly applied, but flavorful enough to stand out. The Vegetables and Condiments (4/5 points): The carrots and daikon are sweet and crunchy, with just the right mayo amount to add some creaminess.

Ba Le, 5014 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60640 (map); 773-561-4424; balesandwich.com

Saigon Sisters (The Classic - $7.00), 20.5 points
Saigon Sisters (The Classic - $7.00), 20.5 points
The Bread (7.5/10 points): Crusty and warm, this is a good base (even if it does break into a thousand pieces when you bite in). Sadly, it's also a little too thick, so some bites are breadier and drier than others. The Main Ingredient(s) (9/10 points): This is where Saigon Sisters shines. The fillings have a nice mix of funk and fat. In particular, the headcheese is fantastic. The Vegetables and Condiments (4/5 points): Great balance of sweet and crunchy carrots and daikon. I also like the amount of heat from the chiles.

Saigon Sisters, 567 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (map); 312-496-0090; saigonsisters.com‎

Bánh Mì & Co. (Saigon Classic - $4.85), 20 points
Bánh Mì & Co. (Saigon Classic - $4.85), 20 points
The Bread (8/10 points): I really appreciate how the bread is warmed to order, ensuring that each sandwich arrives toasty. It's also nicely browned. If this were thinner it would have gotten a much higher score. The Main Ingredient(s) (9/10 points): Fantastic thickly sliced ham and fatty head cheese, but not quite enough pâté. The Vegetables and Condiments (3/5 points): Bánh Mì & Co. trips up a bit here. Though there is quite a lot of carrots and daikon, they aren't pickled enough, so they end up tasting kind of bland.

Bánh Mì & Co., 3141 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 (map); 773-754-5545; banhmiandco.com‎

Nhu Lan (Special - $3.75), 18.5 points
Nhu Lan (Special - $3.75), 18.5 points
The Bread (7.5/10 points): This is surprising. Considering Nhu Lan bakes its bread in house and serves them up while still warm, you'd think it would run away with this category. But while crackly and distinct, it's also very thick. The bites on both ends are mostly bread. The Main Ingredient(s) (8/10 points): The fillings are decently flavorful and in good proportion. The Vegetables and Condiments (3/5 points): The pickles are good, but there's not enough to make up for the thick bread. It could also use mayonnaise.

Nhu' Lan Bakery, 2612 W Lawrence Avenue Chicago, IL 60625 (map); 773-878-9898; www.nhulansbakery.com

2 Asian Brothers (Classic - $4.50), 18.5 points
2 Asian Brothers (Classic - $4.50), 18.5 points
The Bread (7.5/10 points): The bread is huge! Luckily, it's thin enough that it actually worked. Though nicely browned, crust isn't quite crackly enough. The Main Ingredient(s) (8/10 points): Continuing with the oversized theme, there is plenty of funky pâté, and the ham is flavorful. The Vegetables and Condiments (3/5 points). I just wish there were more pickles.

2 Asian Brothers, 3222 West Foster Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 (map); 773-681-0268; 2-Asian-Brothers/Facebook

Bon Bon Sandwiches (Classic - $4.95), 16 points
Bon Bon Sandwiches (Classic - $4.95), 16 points
The Bread (6/10 points): A little too doughy and bread-like for me. Plus, it's thick.. The Main Ingredient(s) (7/10 points): The fillings work together, but with the exception of the pâté, they don't taste good on their own. The Vegetables and Condiments (3/5 points): Much like the meat, the vegetables are abundant, but not very distinct.

Bon Bon Sandwiches, 2333 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-278-5800; bonbonsandwiches.com‎