The Best Vietnamese Restaurants In Houston

The best pho, bún bò huế, and bánh mì that Houston has to offer.
The Best Vietnamese Restaurants In Houston image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Vietnamese food is Houston food, and anyone here will tell you that. Since the fall of Saigon, the Vietnamese community has found a home in Houston and across the Gulf Coast. As a result, there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, many of which specialize in specific dishes from specific regions all over Vietnam. It’s dizzying, but it means Houston has become a must-visit city for bún bò huế and bánh mì and everything in between, and we’re damn proud of it. From tiny family-run diners to phở specialists to legendary spring roll spots, here are the 13 best Vietnamese restaurants in Houston.


photo credit: Quit Nguyen



$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersQuick EatsLunch
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Shunted off in a corner of Hong Kong City Mall in Chinatown, Alpha Bakery quietly and modestly makes the best bánh mì in the entire city. The shop is so crammed to the gills with a ton of Vietnamese snacks and spices, you almost miss the modest little sandwich counter. Order any sandwich and watch as thick globs of butter and mayo are spread on fresh baguettes and filled with pâté, chả lụa (bologna), pork belly, giò thủ (head cheese), and a fistful of sliced vegetables and herbs. The best part is this little slice of sandwich heaven is only $5, cash, so maybe order two or three. 

What to order: dặc biệt bánh mì

The first bite of a bánh mì at Khang Vietnamese Sandwich Cafe changes you, and so does the second—just go with it. The warm, fresh bread is so soft and airy, with an open crumb and a golden outer crust that flakes wonderfully. Every inch of bread is thickly smeared with butter and mayo, and the marinated barbecue pork is tangy with garlic. So if you’re around Alief and need to grab a quick lunch, get a bánh mì at Khang. 

What to order: bánh mì thịt nướng (bbq pork), bánh mì khang (khang special combination), bánh mì bo kho (vegetable beef soup and bread)

The canh chua cá trê here will change your life. The soup, a Mekong Delta staple, is bright and refreshing, with an otherworldly tropical tang from tamarind and pineapple. It’s like somebody planted a vegetable garden by the beach, and then made a soup out of it, with whole tender filets of fresh catfish, stewed tomato, okra, and sharp herbs. The restaurant itself is tiny with less than a dozen tables, and it has all the appeal of a hospital waiting room. But once the food arrives, it’s an oasis. 

What to order: canh chua cá trê, bánh khọt, nem nướng

Thíên Ân Sandwiches in Midtown is a dependable spot for a quick lunch, basically Houston’s version of a Vietnamese diner. It’s the kind of no-nonsense, family-run place you immediately understand and feel comfortable in. All the food, from the banh mi to the phở, is solid, and everything arrives fresh and fast. One dish you’ll likely see on every table is the massive, golden bánh xèo, a wok-sized crepe stuffed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts that comes with fish sauce for dunking. While it’s big enough to share, you can also tackle one alone if you have some feelings to work out. You should also order the gỏi vịt—a giant salad of tender roast duck, shredded cabbage, and electric ginger fish sauce.

What to order: bánh xèo, gỏi vịt

The temple many Houstonians look to for bánh mì is Cali Sandwiches & Phở in Midtown. It’s an institution. It’s our collective sandwich mascot. The seating may be a little uncomfortable, and the service slightly chaotic, but the bánh mì are really f*cking good. The bread is crispy, the pork is smoky, and the mayo is some kind of mythical, fatty, rich concoction that does things that normal mayo doesn’t do. Cali is usually pretty busy for lunch, and it’s always crushed with to-go orders. But despite all the frenzy, the food comes out fast, hot, and exploding with flavor, especially the phở (but you should definitely order a sandwich).

What to order: bánh mì dặc biệt or thịt nướng, phở tái nam

Any place that pre-sets a table with a giant flagon of tangy fish sauce knows how to party, which makes Thiên Thanh the lunch it-spot in Chinatown. The specialty here is bánh cuốn, soft rice paper crêpes, which get dunked in fish sauce, hence why the flagon exists. The cash-only spot loads up the thin crêpes with mushrooms, grilled pork, and dried shrimp, which diners then stuff with bean sprouts and dunk into, you guessed it, fish sauce 

What to order: bánh cuốn thanh trì chå, bánh cuốn thịt nướng

A casual but sleek Sixth Ward spot, Xin Chao offers a more contemporary take on Vietnamese cuisine, with inspiration coming from Texas and Gulf Coast ingredients and flavors. On the menu you’ll find five different takes on oysters—you should get the spicy Viet-Cajun oysters dressed with a garlicky and buttery H-Town Bang sauce. You also want to order the bright and tangy house-smoked duck salad that’s nicely offset with jackfruit and a ginger fish sauce vinaigrette. There are a whole bunch of large format dishes to share, including the stir-fried flat rice noodles, a classic Vietnamese dish, but made way more Texas with a comically large oak-smoked barbecue beef rib, bone and all.

What to order: Viet-Cajun oysters, smoked duck salad, smoked beef rib flat rice noodles

Huynh is a beloved neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant in EaDo close to the convention center and downtown where every diner is treated like a regular. It’s a reliable place, even when it’s busy. Service is attentive, and the food is solid, ranging from charred shaken beef to a spicy, aromatic bún bò huế. The owners are always there, waiting tables and greeting guests—you’ll know who they are from all of the family photos hanging in the waiting area. Huynh is also BYOB, so you can bring a few bottles for a date or large get-together. And make sure to grab a Dum-Dum on your way out.

What to order: bún bò huế, bánh ướt trường

Hidden in the middle of Midtown’s Conservatory food hall is Xeo Yum, a food stall specializing in bánh xèo. Even better than the delicious little savory rice crepes and puffy pancakes happening here is sitting at the small bar and watching those little works of art materialize right in front of you. Frying pans get doused with golden batter, layered with pork belly and shrimp, and the crepes fry up until the edges get slick and crispy, transforming into a hot bánh xèo. Ah, the magic of food chemistry.

What to order: bánh xèo or bánh khọt

From the folks sucking back crawfish heads to the goldfish hoovering up every morsel in their tank, everyone is chowing down at Crawfish & Noodles, a Viet-Cajun institution in Chinatown. Cajun dishes including boiled crawfish and turkey necks are infused with Vietnamese flavors like lemongrass, ginger, chili, and fish sauce. Dining here feels like stumbling into a wayward sports bar, where the TVs blare Astros games, and everyone is donning bibs and comically large plastic gloves like cartoon surgeons while frantically snapping crawfish in half. It may be a little unconventional, but who cares? The food is really, really good.

What to order: crawfish by the pound, turkey neck, phở

Bún Chå Cá Da Nang is all about comforting and fresh Da Nang-style seafood. Get the namesake soup, bún chå cá, with thin vermicelli noodles and a pile of greens, or try the bánh canh chå cá, a delicate fish-broth soup with thick udon noodles and fish cakes. You expect the soups to taste like the sea, but they just sort of lightly wash over you, like slurping up a warm breeze. Everything is filling, yet light, piled high with fresh coriander-like rau răm herb. We could probably eat here every day.

What to order:  bún chå cá, bánh canh chå cá

One thing is certain: Nam Giao has the youth vote. There are usually young couples canoodling over delicate, tiny ramekins of steamed bánh bèo and unwrapped banana leaves. Everything is impressively tiny, like carefully constructed works of art. The dishes are tender and complex with dried shrimp and pork, and periwinkle snails. This culinary wonder is conveniently disguised as a strip center restaurant, and we’re happy to be in the know.

What to order: bánh bèo

One of the only places where you can get hand cut vermicelli noodles is Phở Sapa in Chinatown. The modern, casual restaurant serves small and large bowls of phở with your choice of small noodles—the standard vermicelli at nearly every phở spot—or Phở Sapa’s specialty wide rice noodles. Steaming bowls arrive mere seconds after ordering. The subtle, clarified hot broth tastes light and airy, and the silky soft vermicelli are built for slurping. We suggest getting wide noodles with a bowl of phở dặc biệt if you want to try a bit of everything (including tripe and brisket), or choose your own meat topping adventure.

What to order: phở dặc biệt with wide noodles

Family-run for decades, Kim Tài is one of the few remaining original Vietnamese restaurants in Midtown. The kitchen is still manned by the husband and wife team. While it may appear scrappy, and it may take a bit of time for your meal to arrive, the food is fantastic. The tiny teal and wood-paneled dining room and even tinier kitchen holds a gold mine of rich phở, overstuffed bánh mìs, and bánh bột chiên egg omelets with crispy fried rice cakes. Everything arrives lovingly plated, as though your grandparent made it special just for you. Pull up for lunch and you’ll see every Midtown character dining right alongside you, as though you somehow stumbled into a downtown waystation. Kim Tài does feel conjured from a Houston history wormhole, but that’s one of the many reasons why we like it.

What to order: bánh bột chiên, bánh mì đậu hũ (tofu)

The only thing more intense than the length of the menu at Dakao is the decor, which is a fever dream of blue sky and cloud ceiling tiles, oversized woven pendant lamps, and fake topiaries akin to Edward Scissorhands. We’re not sure who designed this place, but we absolutely love it. Grab a miến gà dakao dặc biệt with clear noodles and take it all in.

What to order: miến gà dakao dặc biệt 

If you only have 15 minutes for lunch, you can rely on Phở Saigon. The Midtown location is the type of place you go to eat phở alone in silence. Meditative trance music plays softly over the speakers in this dimly lit strip mall spot. The food comes out unbelievably fast. No one will talk to you (too much). The food may not blow you away like some of the other places on this list, but it’s utilitarian. Plus, Phở Saigon has multiple locations around town.

What to order: any phở

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