The cold weather in much of the country has us craving something warming with fresh, bold flavors like bird's eye chilis, ginger, and Thai basil. A steaming bowl of phở, Vietnam's national dish, ticks all the boxes—its broth is rich and fragrant, it can be made vegetarian, and it begs to be positively heaped with a mélange of fresh herbs. Here's where to slurp phở in MICHELIN Guide cities across the US.
One peek at the specials on the wall of this bright, clean, busy dining room (maybe golden-fried squid strewn with sea salt) will have you begging for a seat. Depending on the weather, eager diners pack in for cha gio, pork spring rolls with nuoc cham and or goi cuon, fantastic summer rolls filled with poached shrimp and vermicelli. Right now, pho is the star and choices are abundant. Try pho tai, where raw beef shavings are cooked to tender perfection and combined with a scalding hot, savory broth replete with herbs, sprouts, and chewy noodles.
Đi Ăn Đi
Take a seat on the patio or within the airy space and peruse the menu—well-known favorites, daily specials, and of course, an array of pho—also the star of the show. Wok-seared beef pho delights with tender sliced brisket, egg yolk, and rice noodles floating in an umami-packed bone broth. Couple this crispy goi ca (handrolls) or meaty mackerel with sweet chili jam for a serotonin-boosting spread.
This gem stands out for its keen understanding and delicious rendering of Vietnamese cuisine, which is rather rare in these parts. Shelves of market goodies lure passersby into the cool, contemporary space, fitted out with a central open kitchen, two vast dining areas, and a backyard.
The kitchen team straddles the line between subtle and savory with ease and creativity. Saigon beef pho is a filling mix of minced wagyu beef and beef shin. Save space for dessert, sesame brittle atop sweet corn tapioca pudding.
Tucked into an industrial Bushwick block, this fun and fresh space by brothers Jacky and Jimmy Tu features colorful cinder block walls, a bamboo wood bar lined with Crayola-bright metal stools and ample seating for their fans. And oh, is that fandom deserved. Think caramelized wild shrimp with heritage pork and basil; and crispy, turmeric-laced bánh xèo either. Pho is for everyone here, with beef, chicken, and mushroom options, the broth spiced up with jalapeños.
Tucked into a buzzing corner, this sunny little retreat packs a serious flavor punch. Imagine the likes of Obama’s Bún Chả, a platter of grilled pork sausages and belly; spring rolls with pork and shrimp; or a classic beef pho served with house made hoisin and sriracha sauces. Vegetarians will appreciate the shredded mango tossed with carrots, endive, and a tamarind dressing; while fruit juices and smoothies are sure to sate many a sweet tooth.
A market’s worth of fresh ingredients allows Pho 777 to stand out in a neighborhood where Vietnamese restaurants—and their signature soup—seem to populate every storefront. Add choices like meatballs, tendon, flank steak and tofu to the cardamom- ginger- and clove-spiced beef broth, which fills a vat large enough to sate a lumberjack-sized appetite, then throw in jalapeños, Thai basil and mint to your liking.
Wife-and-husband duo Chinh Pham and Son Do tell stories of their childhood in Saigon at this gem on bustling Belmont. A set of glass doors mark the entry to this bright, modern space, fitted with a leather banquette and lush, colorful planters. The menu is modern Vietnamese with a focus on ingredient sourcing. Dishes display immense depth, so come hungry to sample pho, that national treasure, with bone broth, flat rice noodles, Wagyu short rib, and aromatics aplenty.
Garlic & Chives (Orange County and LA County)
Expect to be greeted at this local favorite by a line out the door, but inside, find a giant chandelier and clipboard with several names ahead of the free space to jot down your own. Don’t worry—that line moves quickly and you’ll be slurping up glass noodles in no time. Go with a group and order a feast; the menu, replete with regional specials, has much more to offer than one or two can possibly explore. Slurp beef or chicken pho, or go for one of the seafood soups like canh bun—crab and water spinach with thicker vermicelli noodles—a popular Northern Vietnamese dish.
Phở 79 (Orange County)
This place is an institution going 40 years strong. It's widely considered to ladle some of the best and most praiseworthy pho in southern California. Place your name on the clipboard by the front door and expect a wait. Once seated, peruse the extensive menu, which runs the gamut from egg noodle soups and goi cuon, to appetizers and desserts along with many varieties of the eponymous dish. You'll never go wrong with oxtail—it's the most popular with good reason.
Tamarine (Palo Alto)
Tamarine has long been a Palo Alto standby for its refined take on Vietnamese food that doesn’t sacrifice authentic flavor. Family-style sharing of dishes is encouraged, which is good because deciding on just one entrée is nearly impossible. Start with fresh shrimp spring rolls, full of bean sprouts and mint. Note that pho (beef only) is served only at lunch, Monday to Friday.
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