If you have been to Banh Mi & Bottles, you know the appeal of this South Street spot that serves up cocktails and Vietnamese fare while replicating the atmosphere of a Nha Trang or Da Nang beach club. But recently, this tucked-away venue has stepped up its game even more.
Banh Mi has debuted a new cocktail program in collaboration with Nico Diaz from the Ranstead Room (the renowned speakeasy that lives in Stephen Starr’s El Rey), and it dons a slew of new and interesting pours. The food menu has also undergone some changes with a few show-stopping plates making their way onto the line-up.
The venue was created and conceived by chef and owner Tuan Phung, who was born and raised in Vietnam, and immigrated to the U.S. in 2003. Inspired by his father, who cooked for many families in a Vietnamese refugee camp during his youth, Phung opened Banh Mi & Bottles with a modernized menu offering Vietnamese comfort foods. His latest menu shows a “natural evolution in which Phung showcases the traditional dishes of his youth with contemporary twists”, a news release states.
And what are some of the new additions to look out for? The coconut caramelized baby back ribs are a stand-out on the entree menu. Served with a salad and crispy rice, the dish serves two people (as most of the dishes in this section do) and stands out for its flavor and presentation. The pho brisket banh mi is a handheld treat boasting pho braised brisket, beansprouts, onion, roasted bone marrow, and au jus as an elevated Vietnamese take on the French dip. And the grilled yellowtail collar served with fermented pineapple fish sauce, vermicelli, fresh herbs and rice paper wraps spices up the appetizer portion of the menu as well.
Those who head to Banh Mi & Bottles can also find dishes that span tumeric spiced catfish, roasted bone marrow with toast, double fried chicken wings (if there’s one dish to get, it’s this), and even a deconstructed bahn mi. The authentic detail that goes into each dish down to the Vietnamese wrapper used and cut specifically for the dumplings helps each bite stand out, as does the variety.
Philadelphians can also dive headfirst into a beautifully plated seafood tower (boasting three different kinds of Vietnamese sauces and squid ceviche), an assortment of salads, pho and “fun bites” (their take on appetizers).
And there are also plenty of options to help wash it all down with the new cocktail menu — and each sipper has a personality of its own. The stand-out from the new libation selection is by far the ube espresso martini. Banh Mi’s take on the popular drink looks different from most — it’s purple from the yam-like ube — but its taste is much smoother and richer than most. Plus, each drink has a full egg in it (which accounts for the smoothness) and how many times can you go out and sip on something like that?
Other standouts include the Sage Smash and the Rum Forrest Rum, which take on the feeling of a tropical paradise in a cup with one donning mojito vies (the rum) and the other pairing together umami, nutmeg, sage and fresh-squeezed sugar cane. Another favorite for most will likely be Khaleesi Means Queen, which takes an old Philly favorite (the Clover Club) and makes it bright pink and fun in a large glass with a pink straw and flamingo garnish.
Philadelphians can also stop by this South Street venue for happy hour (Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.) to try some drinks and bites for themselves at a reduced price.
The atmosphere of Banh Mi & Bottles ties everything together, with a bar, dining room and a brand new lounge space offering seating — all of which is set by the tone of moody neon lights and tropical fixtures. It’s a nice escape, an ideal dinner spot, and a new go-to for cocktails, and luckily Philadelphians have it all under one roof.
To learn more about Banh Mi & Bottles ( 712-14 South St) visit banhmiandbottles.com.