The 12 Hottest Pho Shops

Get your slurp on at these authentic Vietnamese soup spots.

By Mai Pham Published in the January 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Pho Dac Biet with tai on the side at Pho Dien.

Image: Mai Pham

Considered the national dish of Vietnam, phở, the hearty, homey, comforting rice noodle soup that the Vietnamese brought to Houston in the ’70s, is so popular these days that you can find it almost as easily as McDonalds. Not just a specialty dish that’s found in Asiatown, you can now find phở in suburbs from Sugar Land to Pearland and everywhere in between. Not all phở is made the same however. The best bowls come with beautifully aromatic bone broth, springy noodles, and high quality toppings. Here, we dish on the city’s best, what they’re known for, and what you should order. Let the slurping begin. 

Pho Dien

When you want beautiful, pure beef bone broth and top quality meats, it’s hard to beat Pho Dien. A true phở house in the sense that it’s the only thing they serve, this Asiatown stalwart focuses on producing bowl after bowl of winningly delicious phở. Known for its extremely tender tái ướp marinated filet mignon and its ultra-smooth, soulful, aromatic broth, do what the regulars do: Order the #1 đặc biệt (special), ask for the marinated beef on the side, and dump it into your steaming hot broth to cook for a taste that’s undeniably phở-nomenal. Add nạm cục beef brisket cubes for added enjoyment.

Breakfast, Lunch, take-out, parking. 10623 Bellaire Blvd, Ste C198 · Asiatown · 832-328-1866

Pho Binh's trailer serves both beef and chicken pho. It has been known to run out of food, so get there early.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Binh Trailer 

It’s been a part of the conversation for decades. When you want high quality, good old fashioned, solid-every-time phở, a foodie pilgrimage to the Pho Binh Trailer in Houston’s Southbelt is in order. The broth here is the star, fattier than elsewhere, but more subtly aromatic, with a homemade taste. The trailer serves both beef and chicken phở, as well an excellent dry version of chicken phở. It is also known to run out of food, so get there early and bring cash. Seating is limited, so you may have to share a table with others. 

Breakfast, Lunch, take-out, parking. 10928 Beamer Rd · South Belt/Ellington · 281-484-3963

Pho Tai at Pho Saigon.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Saigon Midtown

One of Houston’s most beloved and enduring Vietnamese restaurant institutions, Pho Saigon Midtown has been serving Houstonians since 1998. Still operating out of its original digs in the corner of a Midtown strip mall on Milam, owners Phuong and Rosie Tran are still involved in the day-to-day, roasting and grinding their own spices, and keeping prices as low as possible. A small bowl of phở tái (rare thinly sliced eye of round) still rings in below $10. Order it with the meat on the side, then make it a combo with a glass of Cafe du Monde cà phê sữa đá Vietnamese iced coffee made with old-style metal drip filters. Want to change things up? Try the phở bò kho (pho with Vietnamese beef stew) or ​​bún bò Huế, central Vietnamese spicy beef noodle. 

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking. 2808 Milam St, Ste D · Fourth Ward/Midtown · 713-524-3734

Pho ga kho at Pho Ga Dakao.

Image: Mai Pham

Dakao Restaurant and Bar

During the pandemic, Pho Ga Dakao, Houston’s best destination for phở gà (chicken pho), doubled in size and was rebranded as Dakao Restaurant and Bar, with a giant menu spanning everything from speciality appetizers to traditional entrees, rice dishes, and a variety of noodle soups. The chicken phở is still fantastic, however. For a taste of the best, get the original phở gà đặc biệt topped with white and dark meat, a quail egg and giblets. Want the comfort of chicken pho without the steaming hot broth? Try the excellent phở gà khô, a “dry” pho version wherein the broth is served on the side. 

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking, food after 11 p.m. 11778 Bellaire Blvd · Alief · 281-879-5899

Pho Danh

You’ll have to trek all the way to the far right corner of the Hong Kong Mall IV to find Pho Danh, but it’ll be worth it to sample this tried and true phở spot. Family owned and operated since 1998, Pho Danh’s claim to fame is its traditional beef phở with the full spectrum of toppings: tái (rare), chín (brisket), gân (tendon), nạm (flank), gầu (fatty brisket), vè dòn (crunchy flank), sách (tripe), and bò viên (beef meatball). The restaurant also offers chicken phở, as well as a stellar bún suông (rice vermicelli with shrimp meatballs).

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking. 11209 Bellaire Blvd, Ste C-25 · Alief · 281-879-9940

Hot Stone Pho at Ong Jas Viet Kitchen.

Ong Jas Viet Kitchen

The only place in the greater Houston area where you can find hot stone phở—the trending style of phở that’s served deconstructed in a hot stone bowl—Ong Jas Viet Kitchen in Pearland’s pure beef broth is a thing of beauty. Simmered for more than 12 hours with chef-owner Jas Phan’s own proprietary blend spices, it comes out piping hot and stays hot for the duration of the meal. If the stone pot is not your thing, not to worry, the regular phở is just as exceptional and priced at $2 less than the stone pot version, and there are several topping options, including filet mignon and fatty brisket. The restaurant also has a full menu of Vietnamese appetizers, vermicelli noodles, rice plates, and specialty drinks; try the pandan milk or the butterfly limeade.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, take-out, parking. 11930 Broadway St Ste 140 · Pearland · 281-890-4011

Pho dac biet at Pho Duy.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Duy

The broth here is the kind that doesn’t need any added hoisin or sriracha. Rich, silky and nuanced with complex aromatics, this is the kind of broth that simmers for hours and takes years to master. Customize with a few squeezes of lime, blanched bean sprouts, and fresh basil for a bowl that speaks to your soul. To get the best bang for your buck, get the Pho Duy Dac Biet special. For only 75 cents more than the regular large bowls, it comes with all the meat toppings on the menu including oxtail. The restaurant also offers a variety of rice and noodle dishes and is known to have an excellent mì quảng, a central Vietnamese dish of pork and shrimp with turmeric noodles.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking. 6968 Wilcrest Dr, Ste F · Alief · 281-879-9899

Pho Ve Dem's filet mignon.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Ve Dem

The doors don’t open until 5 p.m., but that’s because this is the OG of late night phở spots in Houston. Open until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. on most nights, the name of the restaurant, which translates to “phở by night,” is the place to go in Asiatown for a phở dinner or post-clubbing eats. The broth is simmered for 17-18 hours to yield a rich, deeply flavored, but crystal clear broth that’s about as legit as it gets. Upgrade your experience with deliciously tender hand-cut filet mignon or a side bowl of melt-off-the-bone đuôi bò oxtails. Save room for the nước mát (artichoke tea with chia seeds and dry longan) and durian ice cream, too. 

Dinner, take-out, parking, food after 11 p.m. 13030 Bellaire Blvd · Alief · 281-983-0599

Vegetarian Pho at Les Ba'get.

Image: Mai Pham

Les Ba’Get

While not strictly a phở restaurant, an entire section of the menu at this trendy Heights restaurant dedicates itself to phở. For one price, you can build-your-own phở bowl with up to seven toppings (fatty brisket, filet mignon, beef tendon, beef meatball, lean brisket, quail eggs, or tofu). For added comfort, get it with a side order of bone marrow or a poached egg. Better yet, get it with an order of the outstanding lemongrass grilled bone marrow, served with a pate and butter-smeared baguette, and wash it down with a phở-infused michelada (trust us, it’s delicious!). 

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking. 1717 W 34th St Suite 800 · Garden Oaks · 832-548-1080 

Pho King sign at Pho King Noodle Bar.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho King Noodle Bar

Don’t be fooled by the irreverent restaurant name. Located in the heart of the Washington corridor right next door to Max’s Wine Dive, this 1200-square-foot, nine-table spot is co-owned by partners Elvis Nguyen and Phu Nguyen, whose parents own Pho Danh. Nguyen, who grew up in his parents’ kitchen, uses the same tried and true recipes that made his parents’ restaurant famous. Toppings are more limited here than in Asiatown (there’s no tripe, or crunchy flank), but if you want a soulful bowl of pho inside the loop, Pho King delivers. Open until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Pho King offers a choice of fresh or standard rice noodles, chicken phở, vegetarian phở, along with beer, wine, champagne, and wine-based cocktails. 

Lunch, Dinner, Take-out, parking. 4720 Washington Ave Suite B-1 · Washington Corridor · 713-553-2039

Pho Sapa's interior.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Sapa Noodle House

One of the newer and more popular phở spots on Bellaire Boulevard, Pho Sapa recently relocated into spacious digs with high ceilings, plenty of seating and flat screen TVs. A multi-page picture menu makes for easy ordering. Choose from small or large bowls, regular or fresh noodles, and up to  four toppings with your standard pho order. Or try something new: the restaurant offers specialty phở dishes such as phở tái gừng (rare beef with ginger pho), phở trộn (dry pho that you mix up, served with broth on the side), and phở đuôi bò (oxtail pho). They have a vegetarian pho as well. Recommended side orders include the xí quách beef bones and the bone marrow.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, take-out, parking. 11698 Bellaire Blvd · Asiatown · 281-506-7525 

Pho Bo To & Bo Ne's Pho Dac Biet with short rib.

Image: Mai Pham

Pho Bo To & Bo Ne

Now with two locations, one in Asiatown, and one in Sugar Land, this family-owned phở joint specializes in two things: phở and Vietnamese steak and eggs. Those who go for the phở will find that the toppings are standout, with options such as beef short rib and beef tongue. There’s also a house special sa tế sauce for dipping that is so popular it’s now sold by the bottle. A must-not-miss specialty dish here is the phở bò khô, or dry beef pho, which is stir fried in the wok with their sa tế sauce, topped with tender beef and flank, and tastes like something you’d discover on a side street in Singapore or Malaysia.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Take-out, Parking, Food after 11 p.m. 8388 W Sam Houston Pkwy S #162 · Asiatown ​​· 281-568-5877

Ask for a side of pickled red onions to go with your bowl of beef noodles at Pho Saigon.

Pho Ben

With its bamboo wall and contemporary decor, you might expect to find something that’s more suited to the masses, but from the all-Vietnamese staff to the family-friendly menu that includes everything from rice plates, to bánh mì and yes, phở, this spot is truly authentic. The broth is clear and deliciously scented, the toppings are plentiful, and trust us when we say mom would approve of both the beef and chicken phở. Now with a second location in the Heights.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, take-out, parking. 3613 Hwy 6 S · Sugar Land 935 N Shepherd Dr · Heights · 281-565-0492

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