When I first heard good things about Hughie's Tavern and Vietnamese Grill, it was the name that grabbed my attention. A Vietnamese eatery has jumped away from French words like restaurant, bistro and cafe, and mainstreamed into a tavern and grille.
The parking lot was full at lunchtime, and the only seats available were at the bar and at a long communal table. With dark wood, multiple beer taps and football on the big screens, Hughie's has the look of any great neighborhood hangout, which apparently it has become for the Timbergrove area inside the Northwest Loop.
Though it has an extensive Vietnamese menu, as well as classic bar food such as cheeseburgers and fish and chips, I ordered what I like best -- a grilled pork banh mi. At $5, or two for $8, it was at the upper end of the price of a banh mi in Houston, but I soon found out why. The banh mi at Hughie's is huge -- this is a Texas-size version of this sandwich.
The grilled pork didn't have much marination with it, but it was delicious. Seriously and for real, this is the best grilled pork I can remember eating -- on a sandwich, taco, skewer or dish -- and there's lots of it. If I were just served the pork without the rest of the sandwich, it would easily be worth the $5. Add Hughie's grilled pork banh mi to the list of great sandwiches in Houston.
I asked the man next to me what he'd been enjoying, and he said "pho." It turned out he was Peter Hoang, the owner of Hughie's, and I'd bypassed the flyer announcing the introduction of pho to the menu. I told him how much I enjoyed the sandwich, and he said the grilled pork banh mi is what Hughie's is becoming known for, along with Shaking Beef (grilled filet mignon) for $12.
I noted the eclectic craft beer menu, and Hoang told me it was easy to put together. Whenever a patron requested a beer he didn't have, he simply added it to his menu.
Hoang explained that he may have to expand -- the shape of the sign out front reveals the tavern used to be a Dairy Queen -- but in the meantime, guests may have to wait in a line on weekends. I'll queue up for the grilled pork banh mi anytime.
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