In 2004, a brilliant idea struck Monsoon co-owner Eric Banh: Why not use his impeccable flair for Vietnamese cuisine to make affordable, Asian-inspired sandwiches? The result: Baguette Box, now a Capitol Hill staple, with a newer outpost in Fremont.

The menu offers a wide variety of a la carte sandwich options—both vegan and carnivorous—and they all run around just $7—a great price considering their gourmet touches. These aren’t your standard banh mi sandwiches; baguettes supplied by Pike Place Market staple Le Panier are slathered in inventive sauces—apricot aoli, cucumber yogurt—then stuffed to the gills with marinated meats and perfectly paired veggies. If you’re crazy enough to skip the carbs, salads range from $8.20 to $8.95; sides like their famous hand-cut fries (the truffled ones = wowza), are priced between $2.80 and $4.00.

With a $10 bill, I opted for the crispy drunken chicken baguette, rife with signature pieces of battered meat and caramelized onions ($7.20), and a soda to wash it down ($1.50).

Sean Pham, who has worked at the Baguette Box on Capitol Hill for about six months, has a handful of suggestions for newcomers: “For a first-timer? I’d have to recommend the crispy drunken chicken, then the crispy organic tofu and avocado, then the painted hills lemongrass steak. Those are usually the top three.”

More cheap eatin’: Citizen in Queen Anne

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