Mi Casa

The city's best banh mi is at an unexpected place

The city's best selection of banh mi isn't in a Vietnamese deli, it's at the new Dickson Wine Bar.

The U Street spot (where all wines are organic or biodynamic) opened last month with a small but well-executed menu. Spicy pickled honeydew and cantaloupe take the place of regular melon on a prosciutto plate; much of the charcuterie is made in-house.

But the three sandwiches are the real stars. Each is served on a warm, soft roll (from local baker Panorama) with a generous layer of creamy, house-made chicken liver pâté and a slaw of pickled vegetables and microgreens.

Berkshire pork belly ($11) is the classic choice: thick cuts of tender belly with a melting, caramelized finish that's kept in check by tart, crunchy pickled daikon and carrots.

Though chicken ($10) may sound like a safe bet, the Amish birds pick up the most intense heat from generous slices of jalapeño. The third sandwich is the most filling: Kansas rib eye ($12) is marinated in fish sauce with Asian spices and served medium-rare, like a Vietnamese steak sandwich.

Despite the tricky flavor combinations, servers skillfully pair wines with the sandwiches. The best bets are a biodynamic Pinot Gris ($13) from Alsace and the Argentine Pinot Noir ($15).

Dickson Wine Bar, 903 U St. NW, between 9th St. and Vermont Ave.; 202-332-1779