Housed in Montrose’s recently constructed Alabama Row development, Lúa Viet Kitchen (1540 W. Alabama St.), from co-owners Nick Ngyuen and Mardi Do, aims to update traditional Vietnamese cuisine without sacrificing authenticity or flavor.

This modernization is emphasized in design choices (sleek interiors with white chairs, wooden tables, and cylindrical hanging lights) and in the food itself at this now year-old eatery. The restaurant purveys locally sourced ingredients like antibiotic- and hormone-free beef from 44 Farms, plus CatSpring Yaupon tea, non-GMO Banyan Foods tofu, and Boomtown coffee.

Its menu is segmented into introductions, salads, noodles, and rice. Standouts include the wok-tossed shaking beef, expertly-seasoned salt-and-pepper shrimp or tofu, and the refreshing Viet chicken salad garnished with fried shallots and drizzled with a sweetly acidic vinaigrette.

Lúa Viet Kitchen’s drink selection is similarly light and mostly local. Beers on tap include Houston brews by 8th Wonder, Saint Arnold, and Karbach, but the standout beverage is the ca phe sua da. Try the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, a robust Boomtown roast blended with sweetened condensed milk, or opt for the creamier version with coconut milk. Both are pleasantly decadent without being cloying.

While food, drink, and ambience shine, Lúa Viet Kitchen’s service is impeccable. Most fast-casual concepts are just that—employees take orders in a quick, impersonal manner, and your experience moves down the line. But at Lúa Viet Kitchen, the staff is attentive, cordial, and eager to relay both greetings and recommendations.

You can dine in at Lúa Viet Kitchen or take your order to go, and since it's across the street from the Menil's grassy lawn, we ask: Picnic, anyone?

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