When I spotted the Bon Baguette sign on Holcombe near Kirby, I got a momentary flash of hope that I could find a great loaf of French bread without driving the distance to French Riviera Bakery. When I approached the door, I was met by Tony, who informed me that his new bánh mì shop wasn't open yet.
I grilled him anyway. "Why a bánh mì shop here?" The location was odd, in a corner of a bad-parking-lot strip center that Houston's lack of zoning encourages. "Because there aren't any other bánh mì places around here," he replied.
That was a good enough reason, as I vaguely recalled a study done many years ago that found diners will travel a maximum of nine minutes to get lunch, whether they are driving or walking. People instinctively know when to stop traveling -- without using a clock -- simply feeling what will cut into limited lunchtime.
Indeed, I'm accustomed to pairing a trip to Les Givral's on Milam with a booze run at Very Large Spec's, but I won't make a special bánh mì foray. Superb sandwiches can be found in Far East Bellaire, but I only go there every few months to stock up on Asian groceries.
When I returned three weeks later, Bon Baguette was jammed. Better yet, many customers knew Tony already, indicating return visits, and four people already had several stamps on their Buy-10-Get-1-Free cards.
I had Vietnamese students when I was a teacher, who in turn taught me the proper way to pronounce bánh mì thịt nướng without spewing "Bang me titnun" and offending Catholic bystanders. Unfortunately I didn't know the English translation, so I took a stab at BBQ Grilled Pork on the menu. The meat and vegetables were as good as I demand, and though the pepper was too mild, the baguette was bon as promised.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Most of the other customers were asking for the shredded chicken, so I ordered it my next visit. I settled into the dark-wood cave that Bon Baguette provides from the Houston sun, next to wi-fiers hanging out, many dressed in Med Center scrubs. Normally I avoid chicken sandwiches, due to drab white-meat dehydration, but the bánh mì was juicy and soy sauce flavorful, and I surmise it's the power-hitter in Bon Baguette's lineup.
Bon Baguette also has a large selection of sweet-named smoothies, such as Kiwizy, Wookie Cookie, Dew the Drew, and Mango Tango. And even though I always lose my 10-Get-1-Free cards, I'll keep going back.