Cali's Express - WOW! (Twin Cities)
I finally stopped in at Cali's Express on 66th & Penn for a BBQ pork banh mi. Yum!
Many thanks to the person who mentioned this place - Neitz, I owe you big time! This sandwich is the best banh mi I've had in the Twin Cities. (Although the grilled chicken banh mi at Jasmine runs a pretty close second.) And best of all, it's near my work, just a few blocks off the freeway, so now I have an escape from the Edina/Richfield fast-food-sandwich blahs.
6637 Penn Ave. S., Richfield, MN
Their menu lists a large number of items, including noodle salads, pho, and cool beverages. But they're tiny and seem to be take-out only. They're open Monday - Saturday 10:00am - 6:00pm.
Glad you gave Cali's a try, and I am gratified to have a second on my opinion of that tasty sandwich.
I wonder how this place manages to stay in business considering that I never see another customer there. It is certainly far from the zones where people seeking banh mi know they can get their fix (i.e. University and Eat Street). However, I was in there last Saturday and the whole family had the assembly line going to get together an order of 300(!) banh mi for "a party," (I assume a vietnamese community event), so maybe they are doing OK with catering work.
I saw that the bags of bread were from A la Française French Bakery on University (who probably supply the banh mi bread for everyone in the Cities).
As far as dining in vs. takeout, up to a few weeks ago that 12X12 space was mostly filled with a counter similar to Saigon's where they assembled the sandwiches. Then they removed the counter (they do it all back in the kitchen now) and turned the front are into an ugly little dining area with four tables, but that didn't last long, now they just have a single table next to the Coke cooler. I'll have to try some dinner items--order take out for the family on the way home.
BTW, I was in St. Paul this week and stopped in to get a meatball banh mi at Saigon and it was deeeelicious! The bread was just so perfectly light with that great baguette crust and not at all tough'n'chewy. Must have been really fresh.
TWO MORE RICHFIELD SANDWICHES TO TRY:
The "Siempre Nopales" torta at Natural Escape Cafe 6417 Lyndale Ave S, Richfield
ANY sandwich (try the Chicken Cacciatore sandwich) at Dina's Cafe and Bakery, 6451 Lyndale Ave S (about 50 yards south of Natural Escape in that row of strip malls on Lyndale).
Not all of the bread comes from the same place. Trung Nam French Bakery on University (a block or two east) turns out some very good mini baguettes, excellent croissants and very good Bahn Mi. (The full sized baguettes aren't as good - probably because they're put into plastic bags.
Yep, Trung Nam is in the former Popeye's building on University. I like their sandwiches the best - they formed my banh mi tastes years ago - but they never seem to be open. I wondered how Trung Nam keeps going, but it sounds like they have half of the bread-supply business for the other banh mi joints.
Bringing this old thread up since the former Cali's Express has undergone a change.
It has been over a year since I have been able to stop here but had the opportunity today. Sadly, it has been re-branded as "Asian Express" and has pretty much the typical American style Chinese fare. The banh mi and bun bao are no more.
I went ahead and ordered one of the $5.50 lunch specials, kung pao chicken. It was nice to see the guy wokking it up right there. I suppose that is what happens most of the time when you order such a dish in a restaurant but all too often at lunch places they are scooping it out of a steam tray. Had FRESH mushrooms, which impressed me. The vietnamese eggroll which came with it (can also select wings or fried wontons) was crispy and tasty.
So, it was pretty good for its genre, but I wish one could still get vietnamese samdwiches and dumplings in that part of town.
6637 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55423
It is now called "Cadao Express" and has take out and also delivery in a limited area. No banh mi, but very good (and big) fresh spring rolls, banh (bun?) bao (big steam buns with pork and a hard boiled egg inside) as well as good curry dishes. Also some lo mein, fried rice and the usual suspects. A mixed bag of Chinese and Vietnamese. We're just glad to have them in our neighborhood!