The Baowry



The Baowry

Location: N Charleston and Ivanhoe, St. Johns
Hours: M-F, 11:30-8; S/S, 1-8pm

The Story:

I first discovered The Baowry when they were setting up the cart for their first opening downtown on SW 4th ave. That location at the time was to be the next big cart pod, but it fizzled. The Baowry saw the writing on the wall and moved to north Portland, trying out Crystal Gardens, but settling on a spot all their own in the heart of downtown St. Johns where they are now as of the beginning of the year.

Small bites and snacks to me are one of the reasons I am drawn to street food. While lunch and dinner at the carts has evolved to full meals with everything the FDA wants you to have, you can still put together a great little nosh with a single item from three different carts and it will still be affordable. The Baowry for me offers this type of scenario with their Baos – steamed buns with your choice of filling. When they first opened, the baos were what brought me to the cart. Now that they are established, the menu has expanded to include Banh Mi sandwiches and tacos, all with that Asian twist they started with.

The Baowry Bahn Mi

The Baowry Banh Mi

The Banh Mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich is one of those cultural icons that you either do right or don’t do at all. There are forums and discussions about the best banh mi in the city with such passion about the bread and ingredients, it proves its a sandwich this city has embraced. For me, the bread is key. Vietnamese style baguettes, traditionally used for the banh mi sandwich, are light and almost fluffy with a crisp and crunchy crust that you can still easily bite through. The Baowry Banh Mi uses such a bun spread with a garlic sauce and topped with linguica, shrimp, crispy sweet carrots, sprouts, cilantro and a hint of lime. A large sandwich served with a house salad and ginger scallion rice is more than enough for one and maybe enough for two to share. The sliced linguicia sausage had that great Portuguese spice to it I had hoped for when I saw it on the menu.  Mixing that with the garlic sauce and the acidity of the lime and cilantro created a blend of robust flavors. An excellent sandwich with leftovers.

Since The Baowry has been open in St. Johns and at their new location, I keep seeing new and exciting menu items pop up on their Twitter feed like confit chicken wings or braised beef short-rib banh mi. Take a trip up north and give The Baowry a try and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Baowry Banh Mi: toasted baguette spread with house made garlic sauce topped with linguica, shrimp, carrots, sprouts, cilantro and a hint of line – $8
  • Grilled Bulgogi Beef: thinly sliced Carlton Farms beef marinated in a sweet pear soy sauce, served with kimchee, pickled vegetables, lettuce, rice and peanut butter miso – $8
  • Asian Taco Plate: corn tortilla with cabbage, chili-lime-garlic sauce and cilantro – 3 tacos per plate; char sui roast pork or bulgogi beef – $7
  • Baos – steamed buns: fluffy steamed Chinese buns with various house-made pickles – 2 buns per plate; char sui roast pork or bulgogi beef – $7

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11:30-8; Saturday/Sunday, 1-8pm
Twitter: @BaowryStJohns


  1. It’s spelled BANH MI

  2. dieselboi says:

    Thanks Dennis. I have fixed the spelling.

  3. Hey! nice seeing everything is going good. Miss being your neighbor.

  4. Thanks for the writeup! A bunch of people have come by today already and mentioned the site. It’s always great to see new faces out here in St Johns.

    @Rockabillies miss being your neighbor too, but definitely don’t miss that spot! Saw you’re up on Belmont hope things are good over there.

  5. $8 Banh Mi? hmmm, Best Baguette sells the second best in the city(behind An Xyuen) for less than $3. Can anyone say ripoff?

  6. That bread looks not-so-great, and that’s a pretty skimpy filling, especially for $8. And is that MAYO in there?

    This is why I don’t like most of the food carts. Overpriced foods being prepared by smacked-ass hipsters who have no background in the ethnic foods they are hawking. For $8 I’ll go sit inside somewhere and have a better meal.

  7. I have to agree with CO and quackers here – overpriced banh mi for sure, even if it’s in my neighborhood. I tried a bao when this cart first opened up the street at the Crystal Garden pod (which is only 2 block away – St. Johns is tiny) and I didn’t like that it was a sandwich rather than an actual steamed bao with filling stuffed inside. In addition, I though the pork filling was too high-end, with more five-space than you would usually find in a regular pork bao. I wanted more authenticity and less hipsterness for sure.

  8. Quackers, If I had to guess that looks like either An Xyuen bread(the best in portland) or the baguettes from Fubonn. The latter are ok, not great but not terrible.

    also, mayo, or more aptly aioli is pretty standard on a banh mi. but if it’s straight jarred mayo….well, then.

  9. I tried the Asian Taco Plate and thought it was great, My friend Scott had the banh mi your talking about, I tried and thought it was really good maybe it was just a bad batch you guys had, yea i do agree it is to expensive for a cart just not enough food for the buck.

  10. I have’nt sampled it yet, but do agree with the Best Baguette comment based on price and the fact that they are awesome. But I will try to be fair ( though 8$ seems high for what it is)…………as far as the hipsters….It’s Portland good luck avoiding that. it’s like a Plague.

  11. The people who work at the Baowry are definitely not hipsters… Why is it that if people don’t like one aspect of a place (prices, etc) they have to rag on everything else and start name calling? Maybe they use kobe beef or something…
    Wouldn’t you rather pay a little xtra for quality than quantity? Nevermind, they’re hipsters for even trying. (????)

  12. Called in on Saturday to try the Bahn Mi or the Baos, but alas, neither was available.
    I understand the desire to try out new items for the upcoming “mortar and brick” menu, but it doesn’t seem smart to omit your signature items.
    I hope I’ll have better luck next time.

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