The Best Pho in Philly guide image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

PHLGuide

The Best Pho in Philly

There's lots of great pho to be found in Philadelphia. These are the 10 best places in the city.

There are few things that all Philadelphians like. The Jersey shore. The word jawn. Anytime Tom Brady loses…anything. But we’d argue that pho is also on the list. No pretense, no fanfare—just delicious, affordable food that everyone enjoys. 

In the name of that shared passion, we’ve eaten countless bowls—burning our tongues, staining our shirts, and sweating (so much) in front of strangers. All that painstaking research has led us to the best, most comforting, spicy, savory, meaty, herby bowls of brothy, noodly goodness in the city.

The heart of the Vietnamese community is Little Saigon, centered around 8th and Washington, but there is great Vietnamese food to be had all over. Here is our list of the 10 best places for pho in Philly.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Sydney McElwee

Pho 75 review image
8.3

Pho 75

$$$$

1122 Washington Ave, Philadelphia
Earn 3X Points

At the Southeast corner of 12th and Washington sits Pho 75, arguably Philly’s favorite pho spot. The menu is straightforward (only pho, smoothies, and some chef’s specialties), and the decor simple—though we do appreciate the Eagles flags dangling from the ceiling. Choose the combination of beef you’ll have (no seafood or veg options here), and bask in the perfectly balanced salty-sweetness of this broth. We love #6, laden with tender slices of eye-round steak, chewy, rich beef tendon, and crisp white onions. We swear this soup has medicinal powers—perfect when you’re under the weather or in need of a recovery breakfast.

The intersection of Passyunk and Snyder is an international restaurant row of sorts. There’s Little Morocco, Little Sicily Pizza, Mediterranean Cafe, and La Llorna Cantina. Lucky for us, there’s also Cafe Nhan, a cozy family-owned restaurant serving up Vietnamese comfort food—we love the rich oxtail pho and incredibly crispy and delicious chicken wings. But the bun bo hue dac biet (pho’s spicy cousin), packed with marinated beef brisket, pig's feet, steamed pork roll and housemade blood cubes is a must-try. The pungent flavors of star anise, fish sauce, annatto seeds and Sichuan chili is balanced by the strong lemongrass broth. Order a limeade or Thai tea to keep your core temperature down.

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West Philly’s Vietnam Cafe has it all, and it’s all good. But for the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on the pho. The broth is complex in flavor—you get hints of star anise, cinnamon, and clove in every bite, and the beef is always tender when it arrives on your table. If you’re a seafood lover, get the hu tieu do bien, which packs a seemingly endless amount of shrimp, squid, fishcakes and veggies in the flavorful broth. Throw in an order of the crispy pork spring rolls (they’re the best in town) for one of our favorite comfort meals.

The quintessential Vietnamese restaurant, Nam Phuong sits at the center of Little Saigon’s Wing Phat plaza (or what we affectionately refer to as "Chaos Corner"). Its walls are covered in murals of Vietnamese islands, chandeliers light up the endless rows of tables, and a TV plays videos of club goers untz-untzing at Patong Beach. Bring a group for big bowls of pho in 12 varieties, including shrimp and vegetarian. Our favorite is #163, a fragrant, lemongrass-forward broth packed with slices of eye-round steak and surprisingly tender meatballs.

Pho Ha is the no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point pho spot of our dreams. A strip mall corner restaurant at 6th and Washington, you’re seated at a communal table, order, and served within five minutes. But the sparse decor and efficient service is not a reflection on the food—this broth, perhaps our favorite in the city, has the richest beef flavor of any we’ve tried, and every bowl is packed with large portions of meat.

If you’re too busy checking out the tacky garb at Masquerade Costume Store (no, it’s not a Spirit Halloween), you might just miss Pho Saigon. The small restaurant has been a staple of the Riverview Plaza for years, serving up huge bowls of pho and all the fixins’, broken rice platters, smoothies and Vietnamese coffee. One of our favorite meals is the rare steak pho, along with sides of tender shrimp and pork summer rolls and the always perfectly crisp pork spring rolls. When it’s cold outside, it’s the ideal way to start the day.

Pho & Cafe Saigon is a homey family-run restaurant in University City, and is one of the few places where we prefer the pho with shrimp to their beef options. The shrimp are tender and add complexity to the fragrant and comforting broth. 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 perfect sweet compliment to a deliciously salty meal.

If you’re craving chicken pho–nay (or any chicken dish at all) get yourself to Pho Ga Thanh Thanh. The broth is rich, the noodles are chewy, and the bone-in chicken (which is served on the side) is always juicy and tender. The restaurant takes up a large corner of Wing Phat plaza at 11th and Washington, and the friendly service moves quickly, so come solo for a quick, comforting lunch, or with a big group for an early dinner.

Stepping into Pho Xe Lua is like stepping into the ’90s—tables are set with Chinese zodiac paper placemats, there’s a lobster tank in the entry, and scenes of palm trees and beaches are etched in enamel in the glass dividers. Time warp aside, it serves some excellent, flavorful pho in huge portions—the pho tai always arrives piping hot, its slices of rare beef and white onion cooking in the broth. It can be tough to find when Chinatown is bustling, so keep an eye out for the glowing neon choo choo train in their window.

You come to Cafe Diem for the pho—theirs is excellent with shrimp and pork–but you come back, over and over, for the bun bo hue. Its rich broth is layered with lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili oil. Get the regular, which is packed 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.

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