[Photograph: Carol Hilker]

The first time I went to MC Restaurant & Lounge, it didn't go so well. They were out of half of their smoothie flavors, and for some reason, couldn't make the lemongrass chicken. The egg noodles on the stir-fry I got stuck with tasted more like white-flour spaghetti noodles. I had written this place off until I started hearing murmurs that they had a really good Vietnamese Meatball Bánh Mì Sandwich ($5.95, or $6.99 at lunch with a free beer). After passing MC en route to and from my house everyday, their sign constantly blaring the "$6.99 Banh Mi lunch special" in scrolling red letters in my line of sight even when I tried not to look, I decided to cave and give it another go. I am glad I did.

I can't speak for every dish on the menu at MC, but Meatball Bánh Mì Sandwich is something that MC Restaurant & Lounge should be proud to call a staple. The bread comes toasted with a nice crunch that leaves crumbs on your lips. Garlic, sesame oil and and soy sauce are infused into the Vietnamese meatballs, which are also garnished with fresh, chopped cilantro. It's finished with "house pickles" and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Diners that opt for the $6.99 Banh Mi and beer lunch special will be happily surprised to see how well this sandwich goes with a cold Saigon or Tsingtao.

MC Restaurant & Lounge

1401 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642 (map)


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