Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.
Since its opening last year, Keg and Case has been seeking the right balance between high-flying luxury food, food-adjacent vendors, and salt-of-the-earth accessible eateries, with the last of those three getting the short end of the stick. But the recent reconcepting of Gazta and Enhancements as O’Cheeze and the opening of Bread and Boba has tilted the balance at the St. Paul food hall toward the day-to-day, much to the advantage of neighborhood residents and regular visitors.
Bread and Boba is a side project for the team behind the excellent iPho, a banh mi and pho shop that is one of the most reliable and busy on St. Paul’s University Avenue, which teems with Vietnamese restaurants. It offers a greatly restricted menu when compared to iPho—just seven kinds of banh mi ranging from $6–7.25 plus a Boba tea menu. The Grilled Pork Banh Mi ($7) has everything you could possibly want in a banh mi, in a beautifully compact package: rich grilled pork, bright pickled veg, the mild but pleasant heat of thinly sliced jalapeños, a minimal but welcome earthy smear of liver pate and a generous cloud of cilantro, all served on a crispy rice flour baguette. This is a lovely rendition of the sandwich that has rightfully become a treasure of the culinary world—it has all the flavor and texture you could possibly want, all in one compact little handheld package.
THE DISH: Grilled Pork Banh Mi, $7
THE PLACE: Bread and Boba at Keg and Case Market, 928 7th Street West, St. Paul
THE REASON: It’s a classic, full-flavored, utterly satisfying banh mi sandwich at a reasonable price.