A rolling robot with tiered trays brings water to your table at Monster Phở in Oakland's Temescal. Moments later, it’ll reappear with your spring rolls in tow. The novelty of having a roving android serve you is one reason to keep this casual Vietnamese spot in mind for quick lunches, weeknight dinners, and comfort meals when you need to cry into some steamy beef phở after the longest week ever. The other is that everything from the rice plates and vermicelli bowls with charred meats to the bright green pandan waffles will make you feel cozier than the Sleepytime Bear. Plus, it’s impossible not to have a good time in the dining room filled with arcade games and a photo booth decked out with the very adorable monster mascot. Human staff will treat you like an old friend, whether they’re asking about how your family is doing or sneaking your kids a prize from the claw crane.
Packed with springy noodles, three types of beef (choose from brisket, rare steak, flank, tendon, meatballs, or tripe), and all the necessary fixings on the side. This soup is a foolproof way to go.
Grilled Pork Rice Plate
A simple classic done to textbook perfection: fluffy rice, a jiggly fried egg, and flavorful pork that’s both crispy and juicy.
Pandan Leaf Coconut Waffle Ice Cream
They sometimes run out of this bright green stunner, but if it’s on the menu, order it. The chewy waffle is fragrant and sweet, and will make you crave one every time you hear the word “dessert.”