Philadelphia is one of the U.S. cities with the largest Vietnamese-American populations. That should come as no surprise to any Philadelphian who has enjoyed a pate- and headcheese-filled banh mi (known around these parts as a Vietnamese hoagie) or a hangover-slaying bowl of pho. This Southeast Asian cuisine is a longtime local favorite, from low-key strip mall restaurants in Little Saigon on Washington Avenue to chic spots in Chinatown and over the bridge in South Jersey. Here are Philly’s best Vietnamese restaurants and bars.Read More
Where to Eat Vietnamese Food in Philly
Essential restaurants for pho, bun bo hue, and banh mi — aka the Vietnamese hoagie
Cafe Mi Quang
This cheerful, cash-only Kensington restaurant plays the hits, with its classics all coming in at $20 and under. In addition to banh mi, pho, and rice plates, the house special that gives Cafe Mi Quang its name is a noodle dish hailing from the central part of the country made with a turmeric-infused broth and finished with ground peanuts and toasted sesame rice crackers.
The beef and chicken pho are both good moves at the casual Thang Long in Kensington, which also offers a selection of vermicelli and rice dishes. Vegans have options here too, including pho with tofu or meat-free meatballs or chicken.
With its dark wood, dim lights, and upstairs bar, this Chinatown staple nails the ambience to match its food. Vietnam Restaurant’s sprawling menu has delighted diners for around 40 years, offering crispy spring rolls, filling vermicelli and broken rice dishes, steaming pho, several clay pot options, and a bonus: strong, fruity tiki drinks. There’s also a sibling called Vietnam Cafe in West Philly.
QT Vietnamese Sandwich
This tiny restaurant in Chinatown offers all the banh mi standbys as well as creative takes such as lemongrass tofu, fish balls, and sardines in tomato sauce. Don’t sleep on the noodle soups and platters of rice or rice noodles either. QT Vietnamese Sandwich also has a food truck at 3500 Market St. in University City.
Banh Mi and Bottles
There are a few Saigon-inspired restaurants in the city with full bars and kitschy tiki cocktails, but nothing that compares to Tuan Phung’s modern Vietnamese kitchen and bottle shop. Fun bar bites like tamarind wings and scallion corn are paired with Hanoi Pimm’s Cups and refillable coconuts of Wild Turkey 101, amaro, and lime.
It’s all pho, all the time at this no-frills restaurant with communal tables in the Wing Phat Plaza on Washington Avenue. Choose the meats, order a lemon soda, count to 10, and Pho 75’s steaming soup will already be on the table. It’s cash-only, and a regular bowl costs less than $6 pre-tax.
A massive menu of diverse dishes makes this perennially packed dining room a staple of Washington Avenue’s Vietnamese dining scene. Nam Phuong’s broken rice plates and vermicelli with pork chops and quiche make for a quick lunch, while larger groups can linger over family-style meals of lotus root salad, fish stewed in a clay pot, and country-style beef cubes.
Pho Ga Thanh Thanh
Chicken pho is spectacular at this straightforward soup spot in a new home in South Philly. The usual suspects (lime wedges, bean sprouts, and basil) accompany Pho Ga Thanh Thanh’s namesake pho ga, as does a small ramekin of a fiery dip made of salt, black pepper, and sliced habanero. Maybe the best move? Order plain noodle soup on the side of a platter of chicken, which also comes with velvety offal and blood cubes. When the chicken doesn’t sit in the soup too long, it doesn’t accidentally overcook or make the broth too greasy.
Cafe Diem is known for its spicy and satisfying bun bo hue, pho’s often-overlooked sibling. This version is laden with thick noodles, braised beef, tendon, pig feet, and slices of ham, all bubbling about in a chile-flecked lemongrass broth.
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Ba Le Bakery
Ba Le Bakery is a prepared-food emporium in Little Saigon with a large selection including an iconic banh mi (aka Vietnamese hoagie), meal trays with grilled meats, tropical smoothies, and sugarcane juice. It’s an easy staple for fast lunches, bakery snacks, and road trip-friendly multi-course meals.
Like Pho 75, Little Saigon’s Pho Ha doesn’t dillydally when it comes to getting steaming hot bowls of broth and noodles on tables. Order pho tai with rare steak or pho chin nac with brisket and there’s a good chance that the main event will arrive even before drinks like salty plum sodas and avocado smoothies. The comforting food is also available at sibling locations on South Philly’s Oregon Avenue and in Lawncrest.
The noodle soups are generously loaded with meats and toppings at Café Nhan, a South Philly comfort food spot run by Nhan Vo and her son Andrew Dinh Vo. Don’t miss the bun bo hue dac biet, a spicy bowl with tender pieces of beef brisket, pig feet, velvety blood cubes, and slices of pork roll. For the table, order banh mi ca ri ga, a chicken curry with french bread to rip and dip, and take home a loaded banh mi for elevenses.
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Hên Vietnamese Restaurant
The Philly area’s chicest Vietnamese restaurant is located over the Ben Franklin Bridge in a strip mall in South Jersey. Inspired by his mother’s professional recipes, Hên chef Andrew Ma plates photo-ready versions of banh xeo — rice crepes with minced pork belly and shrimp — and canh chua ca, a soup of slow-cooked fish, pineapples, and tomatoes in a tangy tamarind broth.