The 26 Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Houston
Nguyen-er Nguyen-er, chicken dinner—and more.
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 26 of the best places for Vietnamese food in Houston right now.
Debuting during the pandemic in fall of 2020, within two years of opening, the co-chefs behind Xin Chao, TV personality and blind cook Christine Ha, and Tony Nguyen of Saigon House, were named finalists for 2022 Best Chef of Texas by the James Beard Foundation. That’s a testament to the food they’re putting out at this charming restaurant in the Sixth Ward, which takes traditional flavors and dishes and re-interprets them using modern influences and techniques. The menu is well-edited and plays like a greatest hits album. What to order? Start with the unforgettable smoked duck salad, a dish of peppery arugula punctuated with chewy slices of jackfruit and shredded duck and crispy bits of duck skin. If it’s in season, make sure to get the soft shell crab, fried to an ethereal lightness and swathed in a spicy-sweet and sour tamarind sauce. There are betel leaf rolls filled with scallop and foie gras, congee with five fungi, and the already-famous Nguyen-er Nguyen-er chicken dinner, an out-of-this-world lemongrass buttermilk fried chicken with pandan rice flakes. The place also boasts a great, dog-friendly patio, and cocktails to match (the frozen pandan colada is a must).
Before we met chef Nikki Tran, we were introduced to her on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious. That was before she set roots in Houston and opened Kau Ba. These days, her popular Montrose Vietnamese restaurant (a collab with chef Pak Tsui) is a hotspot for contemporary Vietnamese small plates and creative cocktails. Come with friends and go to town on any number of small plates—lobster banh mi, Vietnamese pizza, truffle wagyu banh cuon, cold marinated mussels—it’s all good. Wash it down with a house cocktail like the Pho Paloma, or the Red Eye to Tokyo, a Roku gin-based creation with peach, Burlesque Bitters, and blood orange oil.
A next-gen Vietnamese spot offering fast-casual fare, Saigon Hustle is the Vietnamese corollary to the American burger joint. A walk-up and drive-through kiosk with an expansive outdoor lifestyle space, Cassie Ghaffar and Sandy Tran, who also own and operate Ginger Kale in Hermann Park and the stylish Sunday Press cafe a couple of doors over, took an abandoned gas station in Garden Oaks, hired designer Gin Braverman to transform the space, and are now serving a curated menu of affordable, healthy Vietnamese eats. Try the spring rolls stuffed with salmon, an overfilled grilled pork banh mi, the crazy-good vegan lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl, or a Vietnamese-inflected grilled chicken salad. Add on a beverage like the taro milk tea or cafe sua da iced Vietnamese coffee, then weather permitting, grab a seat on the shaded patio underneath a mural of floating leaves, stars and pink-rimmed dragonfruit.
Known for its stellar bo ne, or Vietnamese steak and eggs, this under-the-radar banh mi shop has expanded its menu considerably since the start of the pandemic. In addition to their core banh mi menu, which features scratch made condiments and fillings ranging from traditional cold cuts to bo luc lac shaking beef, My Baguettes now offers a select handful of noodle soups and rice plates designed for easy dine-in or takeout. The grilled pork rice plate is a winning combo, featuring two kebab-like lemongrass-marinated grilled pork skewers, rice, a small side salad, and a fried egg. The house-made corn milk drink is a must-not-miss.
Premium meat toppings such as short rib, beef tongue, and oxtail are part of the draw at this pho restaurant, and you won’t go wrong if that’s what you’re after. But you’ll be kicking yourself if you visit without trying the restaurant’s signature bo ne sizzling steak and eggs. Served on a cast iron cow-shaped platter, with a freshly toasted loaf of banh mi bread and a small side salad as accompaniments, chunks of juicy filet mignon and a sunny side up egg arrive on a bed of sizzling, just-caramelized brown gravy. Break the bread apart, dip it in the runny yolk, then swipe it all up with the meat and gravy to get the perfect bite. For an added umami spice kick, try the owner’s signature house-made spicy sate sauce—so popular that he sells it by the jar to-go.
It gets crazy packed on weekends, but this all-you-can-eat Vietnamese buffet is worth the wait. The vast buffet covers a wide spectrum of Vietnamese dishes, from appetizers such banh cuon (steamed rice rolls) and banh xeo (Vietnamese crepe), to Vietnamese grilled street foods like nem nuong (cured meatball). There’s also a sushi station, a hot buffet station, a dessert bar, milk tea bar, and perhaps most impressive of all, a full noodle bar where you can get a variety of made-to-order Vietnamese noodle soups such as bun rieu (crab and rice vermicelli soup) and mi quang (Central-style turmeric noodle with pork and shrimp). On weekends, the lunch buffet features a hugely popular all-you-can-eat dim sum station until 3 pm with a meat carving station and expanded seafood options (including grilled oysters, snails, and crab), for the single entry price of $27.95 per adult.
This family-owned restaurant in Cypress is the real deal for Vietnamese cuisine. Sit down on a Friday evening, and the multi-generational families start pouring in. Grandmothers, their sons and wives, teenage grandkids in tow, soon the whole restaurant is packed and it feels like a large Vietnamese family gathering. Like many Vietnamese restaurants, the menu is a large, multi-page affair, so start with the home-runs—banh bot chien (fried rice cakes), goi ngo sen Vietnamese salad with shrimp and lotus shoots, and/or family-style entrees of catfish in clay pot and sweet and sour fish soup. If you’re dining solo or want a good take-out meal, the house favorite bo luc lac shaking beef rice plate is also fantastic. Portions tend to be generous, so order accordingly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a 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 Garden Oaks, 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 beef tendon chicharron. Drinks are also a must. Choose from creations like the pho’chelada (made with real pho broth) or the frozen pomegranate margarita.
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 basically an H-Town 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.
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).
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.
Newly expanded and completely renovated, Dakao Restaurant and Bar is the new incarnation of the chicken pho restaurant formerly known as Pho Ga Dakao. Now, it has an expanded menu that spans from specialty items like chao tom (grilled sugarcane shrimp), to vermicelli noodle bowls, combination rice plates, and family-style entrees like caramelized catfish in clay pot. For those who still crave a soulful bowl of chicken pho, you can still get that, too.
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.
Now with three locations—Spring Branch, Galleria Uptown, and East End—Roostar offers fresh, tasty, fast-casual Vietnamese using family recipes from Vietnam. 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 and the remarkably delicious pate for their sandwiches, to the red-rimmed pork belly (made with a recipe passed to Linda from her family). Beyond banh mi, the egg rolls, Vietnamese salad, beef alphabet soup, and customizable build-your-own boxes, where you can customize the protein, base sauce, and extras, are always a hit.
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 $26.95 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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