Food & Drink

Where to Get the 10 Best Bowls of Pho in Philadelphia

Published On 04/15/2015 Published On 04/15/2015
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
Q.D. Tran/Thrillist
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1. Pho Xe Lua 907 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Chinatown)

Pho Xe Lua, aka Choo Choo (for its neon-lit steam locomotive sign in the front window), has been a go-to spot in Philly for years. The tasty cuts of beef, perfectly-cooked rice noodles, and flavorful broth make its pho the traditional complete package.

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2. Cafe Nhan 1620 W Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145 (South Philadelphia)

Nhan Vo has been making all the dishes on her menu at Cafe Nhan for most of her life, and now provides the City of Brotherly Love some serious homestyle Vietnamese comfort food. The complimentary chili garlic sauce that she makes herself using five kinds of chili peppers brings some serious heat that burns and tastes oh-so-good.

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3. Café Pho Ga Thanh Thanh 2534 Kensington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125

This beloved East Kensington spot by the Huntingdon stop has no menu, but that doesn’t matter because all you need to know is to order the chicken pho (it’s the best in town!). The modest main dining room is always packed with Vietnamese patrons, but it does have an unmarked second floor that is actually much roomier if you don’t mind the rumble of passing subway trains once in a while. The restaurant’s lemon, salt, black and habanero pepper dipping sauce for the chicken is absolutely phenomenal.

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4. Pho Saigon 1100 S Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Philadelphia)

The first venture from a Vietnamese immigrant who spent countless hours sampling cuisine, observing practices, and soaking up atmosphere at nearly every noodle house shoehorned into Washington Ave's "Little Asia", Saigon's set up shop eastward, doling out 50+ takes on traditional SE Asian rice/noodle dishes in a high-ceilinged, wood/cream-schemed 100-seater set in a shopping center double storefront on Columbus Blvd, which you still call Delaware Ave, just for the excitement of saying "Hey. We're on Delaware".

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5. Huong Tram 1601 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Huong Tram's pho is traditional, well balanced, and definitely very filling. For some, it might be difficult to ignore the blaring Vietnamese music that comes with video footage of a couple doing sexually suggestive acts with food on Huong Tram’s two giant television screens, but it’s worth trying if you can.

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6. Pho Ta 1111 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Pho Ta was formerly part of the international Vietnamese chain restaurant Pho Hoa. The large dining space has broken off from the franchise, standing on its own probably due to the consistent quality of its beef pho and its large menu of traditional favorites. Remember to always start your meal off right with an order of the restaurant’s delicious cha gio (Vietnamese spring rolls).

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7. Pho 75 1122 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19138 (Italian Marketbella Vista)

The ultimate in Asian comfort eats, Pho 75 dishes out bowls of their namesake pho, that's even Anthony Bourdain-approved.

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8. Le Viet 1019 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Philadelphia)

A Vietnamese restaurant featuring a sleek interior with walls and partitions of dark-matte wooden panels stacked like bricks and brown-black tables with matching leather seating, Le Viet comes from guys who'd spent the past few years running a fake restaurant (Abakus Takeout, Chinatown's streetwear shop cleverly disguised as a Chinese place), who decided it was time to go straight and open up one that actually serves food...or does it?!? (It does).

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9. Lee's Cafe and Bistro 522 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Lee’s Café & Bistro is an incarnation from the Nhu Y folks, who are famous in town for their banh mi sandwiches (having recently upgraded their baguettes). They also have a sit-down dining area on the second floor, where you can enjoy a bowl of pho and other Vietnamese/Chinese dishes. The broth is on the sweeter side -- mostly due to a heavier hand with the cinnamon -- which is common in the more Southern parts of Vietnam, and the generous helping of onions gives their pho a boost of flavor and balance.

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10. Vietnamese House 901 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Chinatown)

For such a metropolitan city, Philly’s late-night eating options can be quite limited. Rest assured, you now have Vietnam House to satisfy your late-night pho cravings. The relatively new pho joint is open till 2am all week, except Wednesdays when it’s closed. Supplement your seafood pho with a side of rice vermicelli with BBQ pork.