Awesome San Francisco Places to get Pho

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, jalapeño 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!

Sunflower Restaurant
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!

Zadin
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

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About the author

Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner

Ali was born and raised in the Wholesome/Creepy capital of the world, Salt Lake City, UT. Once she was old enough to blow that pop stand she escaped to the place that was the anti-SLC: The Peoples Gay-public of Drugifornia aka San Francisco (holla 30 Rock!). You can now find her throughout this glorious city slurping Pho and scheming with her best friend Pinky doing what they do every night; try and take over the world.

9 Comments

  1. letty says:

    miss saigon is our latest awesome pho find, good chardonnay, and really great ambiance inside, which is rare. awesome service and excellent broth already laden with herbs before it gets to your table. still you get the regular basil and sprouts, etc.. on the side. also thanh tam II delivers on sunday afternoons! can’t beat pho delivery after a looong weekend ;)

  2. Hassan says:

    I love pho! Turtle Tower is my absolute favorite. They have two locations: 631 Larkin Street & 5716 Geary Blvd. PPQ is also amazing and they are located at 1816 Irving Street.

  3. Mayuko says:

    I second the Turtle Tower vote. I always get the Stir Fried Beef Noodle Soup in which the noodles, beef and vegetables have been fried in a wok to get just a hint of char before being added to the soup. It’s heaven! The chicken noodle soup is excellent too.

  4. Christine says:

    Kevin’s Noodle House 19th Ave and Irving..Great price and HUGE portion size. Also Evergreen on 18th and Harrison….sooooooooo amazing..

    My husband introduced me 4 years ago when we started dating.. we move a lot due to work and I have eaten pho in 6 different states and at a lot of different places so…
    IF you ever find yourself in Portland the ultimate PHO place in the universe.. PHO HUNG

  5. Shakti says:

    Hey, Stuart,
    You’ve heard of hotdog and pie-eating contests, but have you ever heard of eating four pounds of PHO? In under an hour? Story AND photos here: http://bit.ly/aouiur. If you finish the pho is FREE plus you get to keep the bowl.

  6. Hey Shakti-

    The link you gave is broken. But I actually have heard of it. It’s a place out in the Sunset or Richmond right? Did yo do it?

  7. Shakti says:

    Try the link again – I posted it before the story went live and forgot that only I could see it. It’s the place in Richmond. I can’t do the challenge because they don’t allow substitutions and I don’t eat all the stuff that comes standard. Would you do it?

  8. matt says:

    Pot de Pho is definitely my go to spot for a phix–liquid manna, if you will.

    Now I don’t mean to stir the Pot, but I would like to highlight two areas for improvement:

    1) bean sprouts–I don’t know what it is about these bean fetuses but they are damn delicious (and a perfect pho companion). Personally, I prefer to slop about two and a half metric tons in my bowl; however, this paternalistic establishment would rather tell me what constitutes a decent sprout to broth ratio. Unacceptable.

    2) lemon–I prefer lime.

  9. Alison Lambert - Half Price Headliner says:

    RIP Pot De Pho

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