America’s 10 Best Pho Shops
March 25, 2016
This traditional Vietnamese soup is hearty and comforting
America’s 10 Best Pho Shops
It seems as if every culture has its own big bowl of noodle soup, and in Vietnam it’s called pho. While Japanese ramen may be getting all the attention these days, pho is also delicious, complex, and deeply comforting, which is why we tracked down the 10 best pho shops in America.
#10 Pho Danh, Houston
Yelp / Son N
Pho Danh has a couple locations in Houston, but seek out the one in the back of the Hong Kong City Mall for a true pho experience. Always packed, this restaurant is dishing up huge bowls of flawless pho, loaded with super-fresh herbs; fresh meat; and a broth that’s been simmering for days and is perfectly balanced, dark, and rich.
#9 Turtle Tower, San Francisco
A legendary pho spot in San Francisco, this restaurant might be serving America’s best chicken pho. It starts with a broth that blows any other chicken broth you’ve ever had out of the water, and noodles, chunks of tender chicken, cilantro, scallions, and jalapeños round out the experience. It’s unlike any other chicken soup you’ve ever had.
#8 Tan Dinh, New Orleans
Yelp / Michelle B
With the legendary Pho Tau Bay’s future in question as the shopping center it called home is being redeveloped, New Orlenians are flocking to the new best pho shop in the city, Gretna’s Tan Dinh. Family-owned and unchanged for more than 20 years, the pho here is rich and flavorful, and we suggest you double up on the beef flank and brisket as the meat option, with plenty of bean sprouts, mint leaves, and sliced jalapeños on the side.
#7 Pho Kim Long, San Jose
This perpetually-packed San Jose gem is a Bay Area hidden treasure. The broth here is rich but not greasy, the meat is high-quality, noodles are perfectly cooked, and the sprouts and herbs served on the side are fresh and crisp. If you’re looking for pho in San Jose, Pho Kim Long won’t let you down.
#6 Pho Bac, Seattle
There are hundreds of pho shops in Seattle, and the boat-shaped hole-in-the-wall Pho Bac is one that’s hard not to fall in love with. The pho here is no-frills; the broth isn’t overly spiced, letting the flavor of the beef take center stage, and thin-sliced raw onions add depth. Thinly-sliced round steak is added raw to the hot soup, and a with a tangle of noodles and plenty of herbs, the overall result is a soup that’s fresh, light, and easy to love.
#5 Miss SaiGon, San Francisco
One of the best Vietnamese restaurants in San Francisco also serves what very well might be the best bowl of pho in the city, the filet mignon pho, made with big slices of real filet mignon, crisp and fresh vegetables and herbs, and a broth that’s both light and rich at the same time. Since opening in 2008, this Mission gem has packed in crowds on a daily basis, with good reason.
#4 Bun-Ker, Queens, NY
Yelp / Bradley H
Tucked away on an industrial stretch of Ridgewood, Queens, Bun-Ker was founded in 2014 by two brothers, Jimmy and Jacky Tu, who both have a background in fine dining. The primary draw here is the pho ga, made with high-quality “Buddhist-style” chicken, free-range and slaughtered the day before it’s shipped to the restaurant, served in a fragrant broth made with roasted shallots and onion, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon. During the winter beef pho is on offer, and it’s just as rich and labor-intensive.
#3 Pho Cyclo, Seattle
Ask a few people in Seattle what the best pho shop in town, and a couple will most likely tell you Pho Cyclo, which chef-owner Taylor Hoang opened in 2003 and today has five locations in the city. Pho is available with a wide variety of meats including rare steak, flank steak, pork meatballs, fatty flank, tendon, tripe, and shrimp. The broth is fragrant, complex, and layered, and the end result is a stunning bowl of pho.
#2 Pho Binh, Houston
While there are a handful of Pho Binh locations in Houston, the one to visit is the original, a small trailer on Beamer Road. While it can close for months at a time when the owners return to Vietnam (and when they’re open, they run out of pho by 2 p.m. daily), if you manage to get your hands on a bowl of pho you’ll be rewarded: The bones are roasted before being simmered for hours, lending a rich and roasty beef flavor, and the noodles, rare beef, chicken, and pork meatballs are nothing short of perfection.
#1 Pho 45, Garden Grove, Calif.
Recently reopened after some minor renovations, Pho 45 is a go-to pho spot in an area with no shortage of them. Ingredients are always fresh, you get your choice of flat or thin noodles, meat is served in ample portions and in plenty of varieties (including filet mignon), herbs and condiments on the side are fresh and plentiful, service is fast and friendly, and the broth is light, clean, fragrant, and incredibly rich and flavorful. Pho 45 is nothing short of legendary, and it’s our pick for the best in America.