Cheap Eats 2015: Mi La Cay

Where we get our favorite bánh mì sandwiches.

There’s no law saying Vietnamese restaurants in the area must be in Falls Church—more specifically, in the Eden Center, a Little Vietnam crammed into a suburban shopping mall—but the preponderance of pho parlors, bánh mì shops, and restaurants on that relatively small patch of land (and nearly all of them good) can make it feel that way. This quick-serve storefront in Wheaton is thus an unlikely oddity. The fact that it maintains consistently high standards without fierce competition or a big local target audience is impressive. That the staff is so welcoming and the prices so eye-poppingly cheap—a terrific recent lunch for two came to $22 before tip—makes it something of an astonishment. In the last year, the kitchen has added bánh mì to the menu, and the sandwiches have become essential: The meats are generously piled, the pickled condiments bright and full of snap. But the heart of the operation remains noodle bowls, tureens big enough to feed two and built upon rich, complex stocks or curries that provide deep comfort.

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Where you can find it: 2409 University Blvd. W., Wheaton; 301-929-2822

Also good: Roast quail; beef-stuffed grape leaves; yellow curry noodle; spicy egg-noodle pot with beef broth and peanuts.

Don’t miss a new restaurant again: Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.