Nha Minh, Brooklyn
Nha Minh is so Brooklyn. Not in the sublimely-curated, over-the-top, aesthetically-precious way you might be thinking, but more in the under-the-radar, scrappy, neighborhood-y way you may have forgotten still exists. In other words, the best way.
Located on a deserted stretch of Morgan Ave near the BQE in the far reaches of North Williamsburg, Nha Minh reminds me of the gritty downtown coffee shops I used to live in as a teenager growing up in the Midwest. It has the same kind of laid-back, art-kid vibe — right down to the worn collection of occult books and experimental noise-collage soundtrack. Except instead of acidic grounds and sandwiches overloaded with sprouts, Nha Minh serves really tasty Vietnamese coffee and even tastier Vietnamese-inspired food. The small menu features "big bowls" made with grains of the day, sautéed veggies, a sunny-side up egg, and some kind of protein (tempeh, sausage, Vietnamese ham), and banh mi stuffed with savory combinations like pickled carrots, hijiki, and smoked salmon. On a table near the cash register, an assortment of Sriracha and home-made sauces like spicy turmeric-ginger beckon. The result is one of the most delicious and low-key food experiences you can have in the neighborhood.
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The free wi-fi and open mezzanine layout make Nha Minh an ideal place to get some work done, The menu is vegan-friendly and is served all day. The space also bills itself as a gallery and features a rotating roster of artists and exhibits so sometimes (if you're lucky) you'll be treated to a live keyboard performance while you eat your bahn mi. Credit cards are accepted and you pay for your meal at the end, even though you place your order at the counter.