Tâm Deli in Austin, TX
Tâm Deli has been a beloved hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joint in North Austin for over 18 years, and Austinites were pretty bummed this summer when Tâm Bui and Nick Ngoc sold the restaurant to a new owner in July 2016. I moved to Austin in September 2016, so I did not have the opportunity to meet Tâm and Nick before David Nyugen bought the restaurant. David introduced me to Bânh Xeo on a visit to Tâm in early 2017 and I have been hooked on them ever since. I don't know about the previous owners' sense of humor, but David is carrying his own torch by cracking jokes with customers and making sure everyone is taken care of when they visit. His outlook on life and food isn't bad, either.
Bánh xèo is a rice flour crêpe with pork and shrimp cooked into it. The crepe is folded in half with bean sprouts tucked inside, then served with lettuce cups and a significant amount of cilantro. Tear off a piece of the crepe with your chopsticks, pop it into a lettuce cup, then top with cilantro and mint and a little fish sauce. Double pockets!