The Best Phở In Philly

Plenty of Philly restaurants serve phở, but these 10 places make our favorite versions.
The Best Phở In Philly image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

There are a few things that all Philadelphians like: Philadelphia, anytime Tom Brady loses anything, and phở. In the name of research, we’ve eaten countless bowls, burned our tongues, and stained our shirts. From Washington Avenue staples that have been serving Philly's Vietnamese and Vietnamese American communities for years to newer shops we can't get enough of, these 10 places serve the city's best herb-loaded, comforting phở.


photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo



South Philly

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerCheap EatsClassic Establishment
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

At the Southeast corner of 12th and Washington sits Philly’s most iconic phở spot. Pho 75's menu is straightforward, with pretty much only beef and chicken phở, juice, coffee, and some very good lemon soda. There's no decor to speak of, unless you count the TVs playing the Sixers game and a few Eagles flags. And the room is almost always full of families, friends, and solo diners eating meals in under 30 minutes. Choose your beef combo—we like the #6, which comes with slices of eye-round steak, chewy beef tendon, and crisp white onions—then bask in the salty-sweet broth sans any fatty clouds. Bring cash or use the ATM at the front.

Meet the no-bullshit phở spot of our dreams. At this strip mall spot at 6th and Washington, you sit at a communal table, order, and eat within five minutes. Don't take the efficiency as a signal that the food isn't deeply considered. This is the richest beef broth in the city, and every bowl has a generous portion of meat.

Cafe Nhan feels like less of a restaurant than it does a religion. Come to this West Passyunk daytime spot on a Monday at 2pm and you'll see restaurant industry people, bands on tour, college students, and everyone else in South Philly who knows what's good for them. If you're looking for some classic phở, get the version with oxtail. But Nhan's specialty is the spicier bún bò huế, a classic, bright-red soup from the owner's hometown. Each bowl balances pungent star anise, lemongrass, fish sauce, and Sichuan chilis, with fatty brisket, pig's feet, and housemade blood cubes.

West Philly’s Vietnam Cafe serves a whole range of Vietnamese food like claypot dishes, bun cha, and BBQ platters. But for the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on their phở. In the version with beef brisket, you get hints of cinnamon and clove, and the beef basically falls apart when you nudge it with a spoon. If you’re into seafood, get the hu tieu do bien, which has a near-infinite amount of shrimp, squid, fishcakes and vegetables in the bowl.

Nam Phuong is a giant, old-school spot in the same iconic Washington Avenue plaza as Pho 75, Pho Ga Thanh Thanh, and Hung Vuong Supermarket. Of all the Vietnamese restaurants in this immediate area, Nam Phuong serves the most expansive menu. Bring a group for big bowls of phở in 12 varieties, including shrimp and vegetarian. Our favorite is #163, a fragrant, lemongrass-heavy broth with slices of eye-round steak and notably soft meatballs.

If you’re too busy looking at the non-seasonal Masquerade Costume Store on Christopher Columbus Blvd., you might just miss Pho Saigon. This restaurant has been a staple of the Riverview Plaza for years, serving bowls of phở, broken rice platters, smoothies, and Vietnamese coffee. Get the rare steak phở, along with a side of shrimp and pork summer rolls and the crispy pork spring rolls. When it’s cold outside, it’s the ideal way to start the day.

This family-run restaurant in University City is one of the few places where we prefer the phở with shrimp to their beef options. Unless of course, you'd prefer not to add complexity to the fragrant and comforting broth. Either way, grab one of the smoothies or milk teas for the road. Our favorite is the taro milk tea with black pearl boba. It's the ideal, sweet after-party to a salt-laden meal.

If you often wake up and require chicken phở, then we understand each other. Get yourself to Pho Ga Thanh Thanh pronto. The broth here is rich, the rice noodles are chewy, and the bone-in chicken (which is served on the side) is always juicy. Pho Ga takes up a large corner of Wing Phat plaza at 11th and Washington, and the service moves quickly. So come for a solo lunch or with a group for an early dinner.

At Pho Xe Lua in Chinatown, tables are set with Chinese zodiac paper placemats, there’s a lobster tank in the entryway, and scenes of palm trees and beaches are etched in enamel in the glass dividers. But most importantly, the phở tai always arrives piping hot with slices of rare beef and white onion cooking in the broth. This restaurant is a little hard to find—look for the glowing neon choo choo train in their window.

You come to Cafe Diem for the phở—specifically for an excellent rendition with shrimp and pork—but you come back for the bún bò huế. Its rich broth layers lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili oil. Get the regular, which comes with beef, tendon, and pork feet, and the Thai tea with chewy cubes of grass jelly. The Little Saigon cafe is tiny, so don’t come with more than a couple of friends, and make sure you’re comfortable sweating in front of them. You will.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad