The Best Places To Eat Pho In LA
photo credit: Matt Gendal
Maybe the thought of deeply aromatic broth with noodles hit you as soon as you woke up this morning, or maybe you just need something warm and comforting because it's well below 70 degrees outside. Either way, it sounds like you need a good bowl of pho. Read on for some of our favorite options made with braised brisket, filet mignon, chicken, and more.
Come to Pho Ga District for the chicken pho. Its salty-sweet broth layers fish sauce, garlic, and ginger for a flavor trifecta that packs more of a punch than the Powerpuff Girls. Skip the boneless chicken option and go with the bone-in chicken leg instead—it adds a fatty richness to the bowl of silky rice noodles and is even better when you add a squeeze of lemon to brighten things up. This strip mall spot in Rosemead is almost always full of families, friends, and solo diners eating meals in a hurry. Avoid the lunch rush and you’ll cut down on wait times significantly.
Meet the no-bullshit pho spot of our dreams. At this cash-only restaurant on San Gabriel Boulevard in Rosemead, you sit at a communal table, order, and eat within five minutes. But don't take their efficiency as a sign of a rushed kitchen. The pho here arrives piping hot with razor-thin cuts of filet mignon and slices of white onion brewing at the top of the bowl. But the best part is the liquid lurking underneath—Pho Filet 2 serves some of the richest, most aromatic beef broth in the SGV that smells like a steak rolled down a hill made of star anise and ginger.
Saigon Dish is part of a small cluster of very good Vietnamese restaurants in and around the South Bay city of Lawndale, including strip mall spots like Pho Hue Oi and Thai Lai. But when it comes to pho, Saigon Dish is in a league of its own. Our usual order here is the freshly fried cha gio (which takes at least 15 minutes to cook) and the rich, deeply beefy pho with tender slices of filet mignon—of which even the “small” size is plenty big. This is a popular neighborhood spot so don’t be surprised that everyone in the dining room seems to be a regular.
Finding great soup in Koreatown is easy. Finding great pho, however, means wading through a lot of mediocrity. Cut your search and head to Ktown Pho. This tiny Vietnamese cafe on Western makes the best pho in the neighborhood and considering the wait you’ll find on the weekends, we aren’t the only ones who think so. The menu has ten varieties including oxtail, chicken, and even vegan, but your order needs to be the wagyu. Protein at pho shops can sometimes be an afterthought, but the rich and buttery wagyu here makes the already fragrant broth even more flavorful. An order also comes with four ounces of meat, validating the $18 price.
This pho mini-chain has locations dotted across the western San Fernando Valley, but the flagship location in Van Nuys earns the title of best pho spot in the Valley. The slightly murky broth here is as aromatic as a car wash air freshener, and we love that the dac biet (house special) comes loaded with slippery chunks of fatty brisket and tendon. They also make a less-commonly-seen beef stew pho that’s hearty enough to get you through a freak blizzard. Grab a table in the spacious (but somehow always packed) dining room and prepare to flag down a waiter to take your order.
A meal at Chinatown’s Sage Blossom—the bigger, better sibling of Blossom in Santa Monica—is therapeutic. It’s a quiet, bare-bones restaurant that's light and airy. Tons of natural light pours in through the big windows, too, which lets us see the steam rise off their beautiful pho dac biet. Sage Blossom doesn’t skimp on the fresh herbs so this soup is full of cilantro and green onions. The thin slices of steak, tripe, and tendon are so soft you barely have to chew them, and the broth has a distinct anise sweetness that’s not overbearing.
Sesame Dinette, a tiny cafe just off PCH with a big menu of Vietnamese dishes, is where we head for pho in Long Beach. The white-walled space looks like a chic coffee shop that doubles as an art gallery, and there are several wooden picnic tables inside where you can eat bowls of chicken, beef, or oxtail pho with a gingerade tonic or housemade shrub. There's even a vegetarian "duck" noodle soup if you're keeping it meatless. And though it might not technically be pho without rice noodles, the best pho-adjacent item here might be the pho brisket dip, a beef sandwich on barbari flatbread that comes with a sidecar of concentrated broth on the side for dunking.
Golden Deli is a family-run Vietnamese restaurant in the SGV that's become something of a Los Angeles institution. Come during the peak lunch rush and expect to wait on the sidewalk for at least 45 minutes. But if you have the time (or can sneak out of work for an early lunch), the pho is worth it. There are no bad pho on the menu, but our favorite is the simple php tai—ribeye sliced paper-thin and placed over a bowl of noodles. The steak turns from red to tan to brown the moment it hits the soup; rice noodles are firm but not chewy, and the herb plate is packed with a salad worth of mint, basil, sprouts, and lime.
One of our favorite Vietnamese spots in the city, Nong La has two locations (Sawtelle and La Brea), but their Sawtelle space stands out for being our top spot for pho west of the 405. The meat here is high-quality, and their broth is light and lemongrass-y. The pho tai bo vien (rare steak and beef balls) is our go-to, but If you want to kick the spice level up a notch, we recommend the bun bo hue: a spicy lemongrass soup with pork patty and beef shank. They also have a solid beer and wine list and a separate bar area, if you feel like posting up for a solo pho mission.
Glendale Pho Co. flies pretty under the radar, but you should know about this casual pho spot just outside of downtown Glendale. The portions are huge, but the broth is light enough that you'll feel energized after taking down a full liter. Even the large bowls here fall under $16 and if you’re low on time, they can get you in and out in under a half hour. Parking can be a little difficult, but you can usually find metered parking along Glendale Avenue. We usually go with the brisket, flank, and tripe-filled dac biet, or the excellent rare steak (pho tai).
Sometimes, after a long week, you just want to eat by yourself in the corner. And other times, the whole crew is joining you. If you find yourself in the latter situation, head to Pho Huynh in El Monte, an excellent SGV pho option with a massive space ideal for big group dining. The pho here is Northern-style, which means the noodles are wider and the broth is nearly see-through. It’s slightly different than other versions you’ll find around town, and it tastes incredible. Get the pho bac with filet mignon.
Pho 87 always looks closed from the outside. This nondescript building in Chinatown has darkened windows and a grating over the front door that obscures the neon “open” sign. But once you realize it’s actually not shut down and get inside, you’ll find some excellent pho. The rare steak one in particular—which comes topped with a heap of fresh herbs—is a textbook example of how to do something simple and very, very well.