I got motivated enough to try Vietnamese hoagies at 2 different places. First, I tried the place across from PNC Bank on 7th Street between Christian and Catherine. I'm sorry that I didn't catch the name. It is a tiny storefront place with 2 tables. There is a small menu behind the counter. I tried the Vietnames hoagie. It was served on a 6 inch French bread which was fresh and flaky. The sandwich was topped with sweet butter, regular ham, liver pate, carrots marinated in vinegar, cilantro and sliced jalapeno peppers. Though the hoagie was not enormous, it was filling. And, unbelievably, it cost only $2.
The various meats are stored under the counter. Next to the ham was a gelatinous loaf studded with chunks of meat. Sure enough, it was a 10 pound block of head cheese. It even listed the ingredients: pork snout, pork lips, pork tongue, etc. The owner was absolutely incredulous that I (1) knew what it was and (2) wanted to try it. Since he already had finished my sandwich, I did not try it. Personally, I like head cheese, though my wife's one experience with it in Rome still makes her queasy. Next time. Other hoagies listed were vegetarian and hot sandwiches with pork and beef.
I also tried the Vietnamese hoagie at Ba Le, the free standing building in the shopping center on Washington between 6th and 7th. Here, it was more of a challenge since none of the menus or signs were in English. If you haven't been there and you like Vietnamese food, this is a great place. Upon entering, there are 4 or 5 buckets filled with various juices from which bubble drinks can be made. On the left, there are several hot prepared bahns (also called "buns" in restaurants). There are rice noodles toped with various pork and beef toppings. Below that in a bin are fresh rolls from the bakery in the back. On the counter were several homemade snack foods, some unrecognizable to me.
I asked for a Vietnamese hoagie and received one that was very similar to the one at the first place. Fresh warm bread, butter, ham studded with black pepper, an unrecognizable medium gray lunch meat, liver pate, carrots, jicama, cilantro and hot pepper. This one was pretty good as well and only cost $2.50. This is definitely a place to go back to try other things.
These places have opened up new and cheap dining opportunities that are near my home. Can anyone add to my post by recommending other great things/places to try in Bella Vista or on Washington Avenue?