Tan Ba Le Baguette on the corner of Beechnut and Boone is an excellent lunch destination. This Vietnamese diner specializes in street vendor dishes at an affordable price. Ordering here is simple: Walk up to the counter and ask for steak and eggs. The steak-and-eggs combo was traditionally sold to day laborers in Vietnam as a fast and hot pick-me-up to satisfy those mid-day lulls.
At Tan Ba Le, first out is a side salad of beefsteak tomatoes, lettuce, string onions, and a Worcestershire-like dressing. The main course is tender cubed steak paired with green onion, two fried eggs, pâté and Asian mayonnaise. While each accoutrement is golden on its own, the way to go here is to stack that bread with protein until you have one serious sandwich. Simply smear the pâté and mayo on the baguette and add beef and eggs to your liking, -- then you have the king of Vietnamese banh mi.
Ambience is hard to come by here, but that's not what Tan Ba Le is about. With you there, they may change the radio station from traditional Vietnamese country music, Cai Luong, to something more "American." If so, take this as a kind gesture of acceptance. They offer plenty other classically quick Vietnamese dishes, such as banh bao and other forms of banh mi, but to be honest with you, the steak and eggs is so good, it's hard to order anything else. At $8.95, this specialty at Tan Ba Le is one of Houston's hidden lunch treasures.
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