I've been spending some time up north during the work week, so I thought I'd post about some of the places I've grabbed a bite to eat. I'm usually solo, so I tend to just grab n go.
Nhu Y Sandwich Shop. This is my favorite place for a banh mi anywhere. It's more of a convenience store that happens to sell sandwiches and egg rolls. I've tried just about every option, but the chicken is my favorite. It seems to be just steamed shredded chicken, but they stuff the sandwich a little more than most and the price is around $3. It might have creeped up to $3.50 recently, but still a great deal. Only negative is that they sometimes stop selling sandwiches if the wife is sick or traveling. Luckily there are many other options in the area.
Hong Cuc Sandwich Shop. This seems to be a favorite on here and Yelp. It's very good, but for my taste, not as good as Nhu Y. The staff is very friendly and they have many more food options (fried balls of dough w/ sesame seeds, fresh summer rolls, boba tea, snacks, sausages, etc). I don't care for the chicken banh mi as much here. The chicken has some kind of a sweet sauce on it. I usually stick to the beef or cold cuts here, although the Nem was really good as well.
Thwaites Market. This place makes awesome pocket pies. Not sure how else to describe them except that they are small individual pies stuffed with all kinds of goodness. They always have the chicken and pork pies in the warmer, but also carry 5-10 other hot varieties at any time as well as frozen pies to cook at home. I like the standard chicken and pork, but think the turkey is great. This place is also a deli / butcher. Not sure if they will make sandwiches, but apparently the sausages are made in house as well as corned beef and other options. Nice mom and pop old school market feel to it. I think it's cash only.
Tacos Lupita. This place has been covered a lot on here. Great tortas and burritos. I go after the carnitas or al pastor. The pastor reminds me of taco stands in Mexico with the sweet pineapple on top.
Jacqueline's. This is a corner store that happens to sell awesome fried chicken as well as other treats (empanadas, baked chicken, fries, what looked like chicharones, etc). Price is great ($1 per piece of chicken). For $4 you can get 3 decent sized pieces of crispy chicken and some fries. I need to try some of the other offerings. Language barrier can be a little tough, but just point and you will be fine. You order from a woman on the left as you come in and pay the guy on the right.
Tripoli Bakery. I like the pastries and bread here, but the pizza isn't my thing. Apparently sweet sauce is a north shore style and the sheet pizza here gets great reviews. I think it's OK, but wouldn't go out of my way for it. I don't think pizza should be sweet.
Italian Kitchen. Across the street from Tripoli and only open a few days a week I think. This place seems to only sell arancini and crispelli. I think the arancini is a little bland. I prefer Domenic's in Waltham or the recently closed Salem Foods on Moody St.
I've grabbed subs at a few other places in Lawrence but can't place the names. It definitely helps to speak Spanish when grabbing takeout in Lawrence since a lot of the small shops speak very little English. I usually have to point or have another customer help translate for me. Tacos Lupita usually has someone at the register who speaks perfect English, but the guy you order from responds to pointing better :)
If anyone has some other suggestions for quick takeout in the area I'd love to hear it. On my list to try is Korbani's Bakery in Methuen for Lebanese. I hear the Syrian bread is good. Not sure if they offer hot food or wraps, but I'm sure I could put a meal together with various items. Also want to try Pollo Tipico in Lawrence. Read some decent reviews on that place as well. The Cambodians at work have given me a lot of suggestions for Lowell, but I always end up with a banh mi.