Young and Hungry

BONMi Opens Today In Downtown D.C. [UPDATED]

D.C.'s newest Vietnamese sandwich joint, BONMi, opens at 11 a.m. on Monday at 900 19th Street NW. The operators will be giving away some 2,500 tickets for free lunches to be redeemed after opening week. [UPDATE: A rep for the restaurant clarifies that the free lunch certificates are solely for tenants of the building at 19th and I Streets NW—not the general public. The proprietor had previously failed to mention that part of the giveaway. The author regrets any confusion this might have caused.]

All the proteins are prepared sous-vide, but the proprietors didn't want to get too fancy with the menu. "We really kept in mind, 'What is the American palate going to eat?'" says Lynne Jacoby, a partner in the company JBH Advisory Group that has conceptualized the new 40-seat eatery. "You know, we didn't do the pate, we didn't do the head cheese, which is more traditional of bánh mì."

The company is planning to open at least two more locations in the D.C. area before possibly expanding elsewhere. "We definitely want it to be a franchise model," she says.

The District is an ideal launching pad for the concept, according to Jacoby. "We did a lot of demographic studies and, actually, D.C. is the best place for restaurants to open, believe it or not," she says. "Unemployment is very low here, it's a very eclectic group of people here, and there's a high concentration of educated people....There's a lot of things that kind of drove us here."

Check out the menu below:

Photo by Chris Shott

  • Joshua

    No pâté? BOOOOOOOOOO!

    I'll still go. It's the only place to get a banh mi that's reasonably close to anywhere that I happen to go.

  • anh

    first half of statement does not jive with second half. "eclectic population" + "keeping things (boring) for the american palate." just noting.

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  • tomaj

    and another wonderful niche ethnic dish goes mainstream, all for only 50% more than you can get it in seven corners.

    can someone at Y&H explain why a new viet banh mi joint in 7corners wouldn't get a writeup but this imitation place is getting lots of press? this is just like the fuss about shophouse -- does an ethnic cuisine not really make it in this town until some americans are doing it in dupont circle?

  • niki m

    Not impressed at all. No flavor and way overpriced! I agree with "tomaj", where's the write ups for the eden/7 corners area?

    We need REAL Bahn Mi in DC!!!

  • MBJ

    I have to agree with Tomaj and Niki M. I go to Song Que at the Eden Center, and get a damn good Banh Mi for $3.00. Also...the fact that BonMi wants to cater to the "American Palate" is somewhat insulting...to Vietnamese People and Americans. To the Vietnamese, because you're taking one of their signature dishes, and reducing it to only a few things, where there is so much more. And it is insulting to Americans, because they are telling us that we are either not sophisticated enough or not daring enough. I want to eat what Vietnamese people eat, not necessarily some kind of representation merely because we may not be able to handle it.

  • Matt

    While I agree that BONMi isn't as good as some "authentic" bahn mi places in DC and elsewhere, I went today (and definitely will be going again) because it's 2 blocks from my office. I can't get to Eden Center on my lunch break, and I would venture to guess that's true of most people reading this blog. That might be the reason why this place gets a write-up and a new bahn mi joint in Seven Corners may not. Also, you know you take your sandwich places far too seriously when you start posting rants about how they are insulting to American and Vietnamese people...just saying.

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