It’s another blustery 71-degree day in Los Angeles, and you need something to thaw your frozen soul. Your space heater is broken, you can’t find your secret whiskey bottle, and you’re definitely not eating the chili your roommate’s mom sent in the mail again. It’s time for pho. LA has fantastic versions in every part of the city, so you have no excuse to be eating anything subpar. Here are our 10 favorite places to eat pho in Los Angeles.
Completely unmarked without any signage, you could drive past this Silver Lake stripmall spot 10 times and never realize it’s a restaurant. But it is, and it’s home to very good pho. We always get the pho tai bo vien (filet mignon and beef balls) and the banh xeo (a Vietnamese crepe) as an appetizer. The narrow space is bright and modern, and usually packed with people having a good time, which makes it a solid choice for a low-key midweek date night. Cash only.
The pho at Phorage in Palms and ASAP Phorage in Playa del Rey is pretty much the same, but ASAP tends to be the one we end up at, partly because of the joy that comes from eating in the back of a convenience store. And also the excellent pho - we always order the Washugyu beef. The broth tastes like it’s been cooking for days, and their meat is really high quality.
One of our favorite Vietnamese spots in the city, Nong La has two locations (Sawtelle and La Brea), but their La Brea space stands out because it’s given the surrounding neighborhood its only good pho option. Their meat 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.
You’re pretty sure you’re coming down with something, you had a terrible day at work, and you need food that will make you feel better. You need Pho 2000′s oxtail pho. This place serves Korean-style pho, and the oxtail one has a great broth, lots of noodles, and lots of meat. The staff will almost certainly not talk to you after you’ve taken your order, but you’re replaying that weird thing you said in a meeting over and over again in your head, so you don’t need to talk to people anyway. Also good to know: they’re open until 2am (and 3am on weekends).
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, home to the best pho in the SGV, 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.
Golden Deli is one of the more popular restaurants in the SGV and has the weekday crowds to prove it. Come during 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. The diner-y stripmall space is a place where everyone from the neighborhood comes and hangs out all day. Getting a side order of their egg rolls is a requirement.
Formally known as New Noodle Guy, Pho Orchid’s name might have changed recently - but its menu has not, and neither has the quality of its pho. Located in the corner of a large stripmall in Alhambra, this place has an intense lunch rush, but if you stick it out for a few minutes, they’ll usually be able to find a table for you. The order here is easy - the kobe beef pho. The beef alone deserves to be celebrated, and their rich, dark broth is the perfect match for it.
If you want pho but also dumplings, head to Silver Lake and eat at Gingergrass. This modern Vietnamese restaurant has a big menu, and pretty much everything on it is good. But the pho is the standout, with super fresh ingredients and a rich broth that will cure you even if you don’t need curing. The giant bowls all run around $10, which in Silver Lake terms is basically free.
Glendale Pho Co. flies pretty under-the-radar, but you should know about this modern pho spot just outside downtown Glendale. The portions are huge, but the broth is light enough that functioning afterwards is still possible. Most bowls fall under $10 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 Ave. Their rare steak is excellent.
Pho 87 always looks closed from the outside. This unmarked 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. All the bowls are under $10, come out quickly, and will definitely help with whatever ails you.