Food & Drink

The 21 Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Houston

le colonial vietnamese
Courtesy of Kirsten Gilliam

Home to the third-largest Vietnamese population in America, it should come as no surprise that Bayou City boasts one of the best Vietnamese food scenes in the country. We've got it all, from pho to banh mi, noodle bowls to rice plates, and everything in between. Want to delve deeply into Houston’s Vietnamese underbelly? From mom and pop shops that have been around forever to trendier spots by second-generation Vietnamese, these are 21 of the best places for Vietnamese food in Houston right now.

The Blind Goat
Courtesy of The Blind Goat

The Blind Goat

Downtown
Debuting within the Bravery Chef Hall just this past July, Masterchef Season 3 winner Christine Ha’s first commercial project has already become a destination dining experience. Her menu -- designed to showcase Vietnamese street foods and lesser-known specialties from her homeland -- is short but sweet, designed to allow her kitchen staff to ramp up slowly. Her signature goat curry, made with locally sourced Black Hill Farms goat, is tender, rich, and soulful. There’s also a sugarcane shrimp that’s quite good, but the most portentous dish has to be her rubbish apple pie. Ha takes the classic American dessert and gives it a Vietnamese spin by adding aromatics such as lemongrass, star anise, and ginger, then drizzles it with fish sauce caramel for a lingering umami.

bodard bistro
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Bodard Bistro

Asiatown
This humble mom-and-pop spot has gone through a slew of different owners over the years, but it still serves up the best nem nuong cuon (chargrilled sausage spring rolls) in the city. Start with an order of the rolls, then add items like the deliciously crisp banh xeo savory Vietnamese crepe, the adorable banh khot mini shrimp pancakes, or a rice plate with shaking beef, and call it a day.

Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong
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Bun Bo Hue Duc Chuong

Asiatown
One of several locations in the city (the original is across the street less than a mile away), the specialty at this restaurant, as the name indicates, is the central Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup known as bun bo Hue. In fact, there are no menus here because it’s the only dish that they serve. Customize it with extra noodles or extra meat, indicate whether you want the pork hocks chopped into chunks or served whole, order a drink, and you’re good to go.

Cafe TH
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Cafe TH

EaDo
Known as much for its friendly owner, Minh Nguyen, as its cuisine, this wonderful little cafe in EaDo is a great spot for affordable, tasty Vietnamese eats ranging from the classic banh mi’s, to rice vermicelli bowls, noodle soups and rice plates. The Vy-gan curry (named after a customer) is second-to-none here, and the three-course prix-fixe dinners (offered on Thursdays and Fridays only) offer a nice spin on the traditional Vietnamese family meal with dishes like vegetarian spring rolls to start, caramelized spare ribs with baby bok choy and jasmine rice as the entree, and dessert of house-made vanilla butter cake. Bonus: The restaurant allows for BYOB with no corkage fees.

crawfish & noodles
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Crawfish & Noodles

Asiatown
Chef-owner Trong Nguyen is a two-time James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest semi-finalist, but that’s not why you go to Crawfish & Noodles. During crawfish season, you endure hour-plus waits and pay a premium for the hand-selected, large-to-jumbo crawfish bathed in Nguyen’s special butter garlic sauce, because it really is that good. If you’re hungry or have friends with you, add a plate of Vietnamese salt and pepper blue crabs and perhaps a whole tamarind dungeness crab. Need appetizers? Try the bo tai chanh Vietnamese beef salad, nuoc mam fish sauce wings, or the Cajun-style turkey neck -- it's stewed until tender, then served in a thick sauce with a loaf of banh mi for dipping.

duy sandwiches
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Duy Sandwiches

Asiatown
One of just a few Asian restaurants to offer vegetarian cuisine, this family-owned shop excels in do an chay (Vietnamese vegetarian food). The banh mi make up just a portion of the menu, stuffed with faux meat products so closely approximating the real thing that they give traditional banh mi shops a run for their money. There are also appetizers, stir fries, curries, and noodle soups, as well as selection of pre-packaged food to-go items perfect for a quick grab-and-go. The restaurant is cash only, but the prices are so reasonable that a meal for two can be had for well under $20.

huynh
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Huynh

EaDo
A family-run spot serving Houston’s EaDo for decades, Huynh is an award-winning perennial favorite. Offering a good cross-section of popular Vietnamese dishes ranging from the extremely popular goi vit duc salad, to banh uot rice noodle rolls filled with pork, to pho ap chao pan fried noodles, and bun bo Hue spicy beef noodle soup, the fact that it’s BYOB is just icing on the cake.

Le Colonial
Kirsten Gilliam

Le Colonial

River Oaks District
No, you won’t find the same quality of food here as you’ll find in Asiatown; what you will find, however, is a fine dining French-Vietnamese experience. The setting channels the bygone era of 1930’s French Indochina, while the cuisine -- a true fusion of French and Vietnamese at thanks to the collaborative efforts of executive chef Hassan Obaye and culinary director Nicole Routhier -- features quality ingredients and beautiful plating. Inspired dishes include the goi bo spicy beef carpaccio salad, vit quay half roasted duck served with Vietnamese pickles and bao buns, and the ca chien Saigon whole crispy red snapper.

les ba'get
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Les Ba’get

Garden Oaks
It’s the classic gourmet "food truck turns brick and mortar" story: owners Cat Huynh and Angie Dang began with a gourmet food truck, trading up to a brick and mortar Les Ba’get in Montrose, which they eventually outgrew. The pair have since opened the much larger Les Ba’get in The Heights, where Huynh now offers more creative dishes, often with a Texan spin. In addition to his core menu of banh mi sandwiches, pho, and rice vermicelli noodle bowls, you can also try chef’d up creations such as a “bun rieu” crab and tomato omelette, lemongrass grilled bone marrow, and turmeric and lemongrass grilled hamachi collar.

mai's vietnamese
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Mai’s

Midtown
A great spot for late-night eats and a favorite of the late great Anthony Bourdain, the award-winning Mai’s in Midtown -- Houston’s first Vietnamese restaurant, open since 1978 -- is practically a Houston institution. Though the menu is vast, the house favorites will never steer you wrong: order the crispy egg rolls, pho, bun bo Hue spicy beef noodle soup, or the Mai’s signature bo luc lac garlic beef, and wash it all down with strong and sweet cafe sua da Vietnamese iced coffee.

nam giao
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Nam Giao

Asiatown
Featured on Netflix's Ugly Delicious, where chef David Chang proclaimed it as some of the best Vietnamese food in the country, Nam Giao is the place to go for central Vietnamese cuisine. Order the savory rice cakes to start -- banh beo chen (steamed rice cakes in sauces), banh quai vac, and banh nam -- then follow it up with a bowl of bun bo Hue (a spicy beef noodle soup with lemongrass and pork hocks), or the harder to find mi quang (turmeric noodles with scant pork and shrimp broth).

Pho Binh Trailer

South Belt/Ellington
Over the years, this no-frills, cash-only food trailer in Houston’s Southbelt has earned a devoted following thanks to one simple fact: the pho here is phenomenal. The original location of what has become a successful chain of “Pho Binh” restaurants around town, the broth is light, delicate and aromatically soulful. The place gets crowded during peak times, so don’t be surprised if there’s a wait, or if they seat you at a communal table.

pho ga dakao
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Pho Ga Dakao

Asiatown
When you want a bowl of noodles, and you want to avoid red meat, Pho Ga Dakao is the answer. Specializing in all things chicken, this is the place to go for an excellent bowl of chicken pho or homey chicken and rice plate. The menu offers other noodle choices such as mi (egg noodle) and hu tieu (chewy rice noodle), and you can also opt for “kho” dry-style preparations, wherein the noodle comes topped with a special sauce, with the soup served on the side.

pho saigon noodle house
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Pho Saigon Noodle House

Midtown
While most of the 1980’s-era Vietnamese restaurants in Midtown have moved to Southwest due to rising rent costs, Pho Saigon Noodle House has occupied the same strip mall location on Milam for the better part of the last three decades. The restaurant’s longevity speaks to the hard work and dedication that owner Phuong Tran and his wife Rosie have put into the restaurant. No powder flavorings or fake stock here; this is old school pho at its best. Tran still roasts all the spices daily, cooking up huge vats of meat and bone-based broth that regulars can’t get enough of. House favorites include the specialty pho tai (beef noodle soup with a side of rare beef), and the cafe sua da Vietnamese iced coffee, served in the traditional metal drip filter.

pho tan loc
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Pho Tan Loc

Sugar Land
This under-the-radar strip mall location in Sugar Land epitomizes the classic, hole-in-the-wall gems that all food-lovers hope to find. Venture beyond the pho menu, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the freshest, tastiest home-style Vietnamese cooking in the city. Chef-owner Trang Vu is meticulous about her scratch-made preparations. Pork patties and sliced pork belly are grilled à la minute for each serving of bun cha Hanoi pork and vermicelli noodles; fresh blue crabs are broken down to make her delectable bun rieu crab, tomato and rice vermicelli soup; fresh turmeric is used to dye the noodles for her central vietnamese mi quang pork and shrimp noodle. While the service can use some improvement, Vu’s attention to detail -- she purchases her greens fresh each day so that you’ll never get a wilted lettuce leaf -- translates into a memorable meal each time.

roostar vietnamese
Courtesy of Roostar

Roostar Vietnamese Grill

Spring Branch/Uptown
Looking for the best banh mi in Houston? Look no further than Roostar. The brainchild of Ronnie and Linda Nguyen, graduates of Houston’s own Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, this fast-casual concept is so beloved, it earned a spot on Yelp’s national Top 100 list within two years of opening. Everything is made from scratch, from the highly addictive garlic mayo, to the remarkably delicious pate for their sandwiches, to the red-rimmed pork belly (made with a recipe passed to Linda from her family). That said, it’s the sensational bread that takes things over the top -- a crisp-on-the-outside, pillowy on the inside rice and wheat-based loaf created in collaboration with local baker, Slow Dough. Beyond banh mi, there are also rice vermicelli bowls and a surprisingly good alphabet soup.

Saigon Pagolac
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Saigon Pagolac

Asiatown
Saigon Pagolac is one of the only restaurants in Houston to offer the Southern Vietnamese specialty known as “Bo 7 Mon,” or seven courses of beef. Ringing in at the unbelievably affordable price of just $17.95 per person, the seven courses are as follows: (1) bo nhung dam, or rare tenderloin cooked in vinegar at the table; (2) bo nuong mo chai, or grilled beef sausage balls wrapped in caul fat; (3) bo la lot, grilled ground beef wrapped in betel leaf; (4) bo cha dum, or steamed beef meatball; (5) bo sate, grilled beef slices seasoned with sate sauce; (6) bo bit tet, or tenderloin slices served over salad; and (7) chao bo, or beef alphabet noodle soup. The restaurant is spacious, with large round tables accommodating large families. If you want something other than beef, there’s also a knockout whole grilled catfish.

san san tofu
Courtesy of Mai Pham

San San Tofu

Asiatown
Part market, part fast-casual restaurant, San San Tofu specializes in Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine, in addition to manufacturing tofu products such as fresh bean curd and soy milk. A spot frequented by local monks and nuns, the incredibly inexpensive three-item combo plates (rice or noodle with three savory options) are a steal. The vegetarian dim sum is also fantastic, as are the selection of vegetarian noodle soups such as the bun rieu chay tomato and tofu vermicelli.

Tay Do

Westside
Serving the Westside for decades, this Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant is favorite for banquets and weddings. With plenty of seating for large families, this is the kind of place where you roll up with a party of 10 for a multi-course meal with lots of Lazy Susan action. Offering a vast menu that spans seafood, noodles, stir-fries, and rice, popular Vietnamese plates include the cha gio egg rolls, the muc rang muoi salt and pepper squid, and the bo luc lac shaking beef. Other best bets include the Vietnamese family-style dishes, including the goi sua tom thit shrimp and jellyfish salad, canh chua ca sweet and sour fish soup, and ca kho to caramelized catfish in clay pot.

thien an sandwiches
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Thien An Sandwiches

Midtown
One of Midtown’s OG Vietnamese restaurants, Thien An has been serving Houstonians for decades. While banh mis are the bread and butter here, Thien An's claim to fame is its giant banh xeo Vietnamese savory crepe filled with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Other notable dishes include the generously portioned duck salad, as well as the bun bo Hue spicy beef noodle soup. Important note: lunch gets crowded, and service can be spotty.

thien thanh
Courtesy of Mai Pham

Thien Thanh

Asiatown
Those who grew up in Alief know this to be true: Thien Thanh is the OG of Vietnamese restaurants on Bellaire Blvd. One of Thrillist’s Best Vietnamese Restaurants in America, this stalwart serves up Houston’s best version of banh cuon steamed rice rolls. Order the traditional banh cuon nhan thit, filled with minced pork, wood ear, and onions, or try the thicker banh uot thit nuong, rice rolls filled with grilled pork. Other notable dishes include the cha ca turmeric fish and the bun rieu crab and tomato rice vermicelli soup.

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Mai Pham is passionate about food, wine, and travel. One of the most active food and travel journalists in Houston today, she regularly contributes to publications ranging from Forbes Travel Guide to Texas Highways Magazine and Houston Modern Luxury. A true foodie femme, follow her culinary adventures on Instagram or Twitter @Femme_Foodie.