I friggin’ love Pho. A friend introduced me to the glorious Vietnamese soup early last year and my life hasn’t been the same since. I am in a constant state of wanting Pho. I will never not want it. I can literally not get enough. I was worried it would be like some foods that you eat too much of and ruin (like the wasabi peas that I gorged myself on that now taste strangely like fish), but no. I still phucking love Pho.
In case you are unfamiliar with the dish, it is a delicious, steaming, comforting bowl of broth with noodles and a variety of other ingredients. In my bowl this usually include raw beef (which cooks in the scalding hot broth), and a tray of bean sprouts, lime, Thai basil, jalapeÃ±o as well as hoisin and chili sauce to add as I desire. The style varies depending on the Vietnamese region and the correct pronunciation can be found here for the newbies. Also, if you are of the veggie persuasion, most places have an option for you too!
In my short, but passionate love affair with Pho I have done my best to find the best of the best in San Francisco. The following three are my favorite Pho dispensaries, but are in no particular order. I completely acknowledge that I have not had the priviledge to try all of the surely glorious Pho joints in the city and welcome any suggestions or favorites in the comments!
This lovely little spot in the Mission actually has two dining rooms around the corner from each other (one on Valencia and one on 16th) but share the same, wonderful Pho that keeps me coming back for more. Sunflower is particularly inexpensive and has a great non-Pho menu if you ever want to mix things up a bit. Plus they give you those little Andes chocolate mints with the check!
Just off of Castro on 18th, this is slightly more upscale, but not too pricey. Their service is so attentive it borders on awkward at times, but they’re always very accommodating and they have some interesting varieties of Pho. They also have tasty fish rolls.
Pot De Pho
If you find yourself in the Richmond you may be overwhelmed with your Pho options, and my guess is that most of those places are equally delicious, but if you want a sure thing try Pot De Pho. Their beef is particularly good and they seem to cater to the USF crowd which means super cheap happy hour specials almost every night of the week!
Honorable Mention: Pho Garden
This Outer-ish Richmond Gem nurtured my growing love and appreciation of the Pho, but has since fallen out of favor. The food is still fantastic, and the staff still as sweet, but since witnessing one of their “Pho Challengers” barf into one of their giant Pho Challenge Bowls, things haven’t been the same between us.
PHOto by: Selva