You may recognize this one from our best-in-the-US sandwich roundup recently. But frankly, if someone had asked me to name a city where you could get a great banh mi sandwich, Cincinnati wouldn't come to mind first. This cold cut version at Pho Lang Thang just outside Findlay Market is pretty stellar.
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Grilled cheese is now the official overplayed food trend of 2011 and for the most part, it's not been a good one. Why anyone would pay up to $9 for the world's simplest sandwich—one that nearly anybody can make twice as well at home for under a quarter of the cost—was utterly beyond me, and I had little reason to expect that Tom + Chee, the three-location mini chain in Cincinnati would be any different. Turns out that this is a grilled cheese concept that actually works.
The standard Cincinnati Coney is about four inches, only slightly bigger than the Troy NY Mini-Dogs but smaller than a Southern ten-pound hot dog, and covered with heavily spiced Cincinnati Chili. The Alligator ($1.59) starts with the same small pink hot dog, but it's covered in a massive pile of shredded neon yellow cheese, and instead of chili, a crisp pickle spear and plenty of mayonnaise. Sound weird? It was great.