New York touts unmatched bagels, classic red-sauce Italian restaurants and a ramen game on par with the noodle temples of Japan, but steaming bowls of Vietnamese noodle soups are harder to come by—without the best pho restaurants in NYC, that is. There are plenty of Gotham joints at which to slurp up the hangover-curing, slow-cooked broth, from no-frills old-timers in Chinatown to a second-generation Bushwick charmer.
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Best pho restaurants in NYC
Purists may balk at the notion of a vegetable-based pho that shines among the meaty regulars, but the lone offering of noodle soup at chef-owner Johnny Huynh's Bushwick kitchen is just that. A savory, yet light broth is simmered for three hours with mushrooms, star anise, charred shallots and ginger, and built with unorthodox fixings like shiitake and bok choy. Beef is available as a topping in thick, hand-carved strips of brisket that's been smoked for 14 hours over mesquite and applewood. Diners tuck into the piping hot bowls as well as sandwiches (pho banh mi, lemongrass chicken) at the shop's singular red-painted, wooden communal table.
Vietnamese native Ronny Nguyen tenders traditional fare from his homeland at this 40-seat, wood-fitted East Village restaurant. Pho is the star of the menu, with the eponymous Pho Sao Mai special packing brisket, beef eye round and beef balls in a light, refreshingly balanced broth. For the red-meat–averse, seafood, chicken, and vegetable alternatives join the beef-based varieties.
The hip Ridgewood bungalow finally moved to Bushwick. Helmed by Thai-born brothers Jimmy and Jacky Tu—who earned their stripes at Eleven Madison Park and Korilla BBQ, respectively—, the shop offers trekworthy Southeast Asian street eats like the traditional banh xeo (a savory crepe with shrimp, egg and bean sprouts) and crab spring rolls sheathed in Chinese egg-roll wrappers instead of standard rice paper. The single pho here is a lighter, ginger-infused chicken variety, dressed with requisite herbs like cilantro and basil.
This ramshackle Mott Street haunt offers its titular dish at generously economic prices: an extra large bowl will set you back at most eight bucks. The choices for pho are mostly traditional—such as eye of round, navel and omosa—but the menu expands to include lesser-known dishes like canh chua (spicy-sour fish soup) and banh mi cary ga (curried chicken served with a French baguette).
In an attempt to bring more authentic Vietnamese food to New York, owners Tuan and Huy Bui have opened this small space designed to look like a street alley in Saigon. It comes complete with a mobile food cart dispensing banh mi sandwiches, including fillings such as char siu pork belly with pickled carrots, daikon radish, cilantro and aioli. The restaurant also specializes in pho: chicken or beef broths with rice noodles, bean sprouts, Thai basil and lime.
As New York’s first Laotian restaurant, Khe-Yo brims with trailblazer pride. The restaurant is the brainchild of megatoque Marc Forgione and his longtime right-hand man Soulayphet Schwader, a Laos native who delivers the cuisine of his homeland with upmarket style. Although pho is a traditionally Vietnamese dish, Schwader gives the soup a regional tweak, nodding to the Thai city of Nong Khai where refugees from both Laos and Vietnam fled and settled down. Served during weekday lunch and weekend brunch, the bowls are rejigged with pickled jalapeños and sriracha mayo.
Presentation is not the draw of this uptown sandwich shop, which has been slicing old-school, Saigon-style banh mi since 2012. Orders are unceremoniously shoved out in plastic bags from a small window beside the steamy, bustling kitchen, packed with tall Tupperware brimming with beef broth and Ziploc bags of pungent basil leaves, lime wedges and bean sprouts. Combine the ingredients for a bowl of startlingly good pho with supple, paper-thin slices of rare brisket, slurpworthy rice noodles, crunchy slivers of raw onion and a bold dash of hoisin-sriracha sauce.
Named for a peak in northern Vietnam, this veteran Baxter Street stalwart offers more than 130 classic dishes including curries, vermicelli and spring rolls. A sizable chunk of the menu is devoted to 16 varieties of the national noodle soup with fixings ranging from eye round steak and fatty flank to chewy tendon and tripe. Sample all the cuts at once with the Xe Lua (which translates to "train" in Vietnamese), a double-sized bowl with over seven types of beef.
Primarily a banh mi sandwich shop, this pocket-sized café offers French baguettes stuffed with oddball options like crispy sunfish with pickled onions as well as the traditional pork-and-pâté. The pho here is of the simpler Hanoi style, with a dark oxtail broth, thinly-sliced rare meat and noticeably fewer herbs than its Mekong delta counterparts.
This charming MacDougal Street mainstay dispatches nine types of Vietnamese sandwiches (fried crabcake, Peking duck) and vermicelli bowls (pork chop, sauteed shrimp) to nearby bargoers and NYU students alike. The simple bill of fare also includes eight varieties of pho, including a tofu-based vegetarian version, a classic sliced beef and the house special: three cuts of beef and slices of Vietnamese ham mingling with fresh herbs in a surprisingly fiery orange broth.
For Bò Cà Phê, home is that crowded dining enclave known as Soho’s Petrosino Square. Its menu centers around Vietnamese rice noodle salads, or bò bún, as they’re referred to in French, a near-perfect dish for the health obsessed. Bò Cà Phê builds its version using gluten-free rice noodles, sprouts, carrots, cucumber, fresh herbs, a lean protein of choice and dressing on the side.
Looking for more noodles?
Paul's on Times Square
Searching for a restaurant in Times Square that specializes in something other than hot dogs and hamburgers? Paul’s serves modern Italian fare for both lunch and dinner. Start with beef carpaccio ($19.50) or a burrata caprese salad with truffle oil ($19) or an antipasto plate including prosciutto, salami, parmesan and eggplant caponata ($14.50). For the main course, there is plenty of pasta, including linguini with white wine and clams ($20) and sun-dried tomato ravioli in thyme cream sauce ($26.50). The menu also includes personal pizzas topped with everything from prosciutto and arugula ($17) to duck confit and caramelized onions ($22) to Maine lobster and grilled corn ($29). If you’re looking for a protein-centric entree, the lamb osso buco with mushroom risotto ($37) or Tuscan seafood stew ($36) might tempt you. In need of refreshments after a long day of sightseeing? Paul’s offers a menu of signature cocktails including a chocolate martini and blue margarita ($15-$17).
Venue says: “Fun, fine dining experience with friendly service & delicious Italian food in the heart of NYC.”