When it comes to restaurants in the Glenwood South neighborhood, it’s often a tough go! While this street typically gets a lot of pedestrian traffic, most of it is focused on bars, beer and cheap eats more than anything else. I had walked by the new Saigon Grill and Bar when it first opened up and grabbed a paper menu from the hostess out front. Hmm, looks like they’re doing some Asian-fusion which is pretty daring for this area! I had my mind on some barbeque so I put them on the mental back-burner for a future meal.
But you know what, sometimes you do make mistakes and it would certainly be a mistake to miss out on the great Asian-fusion eats at Saigon Grill and Bar. While the focus is on Vietnamese fare, this restaurant goes beyond that with a very creative culinary touch. So I was finally able to make it in for several visits to Saigon Grill and Bar and wow, what a pleasant surprise! Pop inside and you’ll find a large modern dining room with circular fabric lamps overhead, a colorful bar with back-lit glassware in the wall and plenty of sunshine.
All of my visits have been for lunch so far and they have a small selection of appetizers, along with a selection of banh mi and street tacos that are only available for lunch. With prices in the $6 to $12 range, it’s at a great price point for your mid-day meal. They also have a handful of entrees available if sandwiches and tacos are not your thang! The clay-pot mussels I ordered were really nicely done. Steamed with some tomato, onion and pungent black bean sauce, the flavors paired well with the succulent mussel meat. Clay pots are pretty common for certain types of braised Chinese food and they use them well here. Their fried calamari was perfectly fried with a light bumpy coating and paired with a sweet chili sauce, yum!
For two of my meals I ordered up the banh mi for lunch. Why? Because they are REALLY good here! Saigon Grill offers up five different types (pork, chicken, steak, duck, mushroom) at the $9 to $10 range and the banh mi come with a side salad and taro chips. The banh mi are constructed on nice, light French rolls and while a bit shorter, are nicely stacked with meat and filling. The grilled pork banh mi was fantastic, topped with fried shallots and pickled veggies. And the same goes for the delicious duck confit, excellent! But what really completes the meal is the fresh salad with vinaigrette and chips! If you’re not familiar with taro, it’s a white root vegetable and quite starchy. Saigon Grill thinly slices the taro and they come out super-light and crispy! Not sure if they’re baked or fried but there’s not much grease and they are fun to eat.
For my most recent lunch visit I tried out their Asian tacos which were really interesting. Seared pork belly topped with fried shallots, bean sprouts, daikon-carrot and cilantro made for a delicious bite. The house-made wheat-rice tortillas held all the deliciousness together and the mango chutney and fish sauce added some flair. A really creative take on tacos with a Vietnamese spin and very filling. I heard that the chef came over from the dearly departed An restaurant in Cary, which would explain why the food is so good at Saigon Grill and Bar!
Service at Saigon Grill and Bar is still finding its feet but that’s not unusual given how new the place is. That’s the one area where I think they could use some improvement but otherwise, they are nailing it for food and decor. Even after only three lunch visits, I feel comfortably sure that Saigon Grill and Bar will be one of the best dining options in this hood. So if you happen to be hanging out on S. Glenwood, stop on by at Saigon Grill and Bar for a delicious bite! I’m pretty sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the menu here, like I was.
222 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27603