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Ba Le (Langly Park), etc.

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Restaurants & Bars

Ba Le (Langly Park), etc.

Nate Martin | May 27, 2003 10:55 AM

I've been meaning to visit one of these Vietnamese sub shops ever since I moved to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring area some years ago, but my lack of a car (until recently) always made it more hassle than it was worth, or so I thought. By the time I got a car, I was annoyed to find that the Piney Branch location had closed (although the pollo a la brasa place that has moved in to the space may make up for it), and was glad to find the relocated "main" branch on University, in the strip shopping center next to National Wholesale Liquidators.

Now I'm kicking myself for not visiting this place years ago, because the lineup of sandwiches and interesting extras makes it a great place to grab a cheap lunch. The spread may not be as impressive as some of the delis in NoVa, but there were twenty-some kinds of sandwiches on fresh-baked French rolls, all for $2.50 each. There was pork cooked more ways you could imagine, and interesting fresh spring rolls, dumplings and mysterious multi-layered concoctions. Nearly everything was available to eat at one of the in-store tables or to take home, in single servings or family-sized portions. I got a barbequed pork sandwich and a veggie sandwich (only $1.50) and a bottle of lychee juice to drink, but then couldn't resist buying a "thai" iced coffee as well. The total was less than $10 and I was stuffed.

After I'd done a little shopping in the maze/zoo/"frenzy of bargains" next door, I went back and bought some of the great French rolls (3 for $1), a few interesting dumplings, some Laughing Cow cheese wedges (cheaper than the grocery store), and a cup of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice mixed a bit of orange, a great (if a bit sweet) refreshing beverage with a name I couldn't pronounce. The special machine that crunches the sugar cane into juice is fun to watch, too, and would be a big plus for any kids you have along.

The rest of the weekend was also chow-oriented, with an excursion out to South Mountain Creamery (the butter is just as amazing as I'd hoped) and dinner at the Barbara Fritchie Candystick Restaurant near Frederick, one of Donovan Kelly's "Top Ten." Meh. It was just as "Crummy" as advertised, but the "Good" wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped for. The Navy Bean soup was almost entirely whole beans, and extremely bland, the turkey pot pie was decent but didn't seem to have any cream sauce in it, and the apple dumpling was delicious but included way too much dough. Finished the whole thing off last night with a chocolate milkshake, half-smoke and chili cheese fries at Ben's Chili Bowl, listening to 70s funk on the jukebox.

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