Ten Best Bowls of Pho in Houston

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Pho Binh 4 By Night, 12148 Bellaire, suite 101
This ten-table, hole-in-the-wall could easily be overlooked but made our radar because every now and then, a late night craving for pho rumbles in the belly after 10 p.m. Open until midnight during the week and until 3 a.m. on the weekends, this joint consistently delivers a clear, flavorful broth with an abundance of proteins and fresh herbs. At $7.75 for a large bowl, it is a great value. Try the side of nuoc beo (fatty marrow broth), an off-the-menu item that heightens this experience to another level of deliciousness.  

Pho Danh, 11209 Bellaire, suite C-25 inside Hong Kong City Mall
This long-time favorite in Chinatown still serves an excellent bowl of pho. The broth is deep, darker, yet still clear. A dac biet bowl comes with more than enough meat, the bo vien (meatballs) are cut in half, still leaving them larger than most other pho restaurant's meatballs (which are sliced thinly or quartered). The accompanying plate of herbs is impressively stacked. On this occasion, the noodles were a bit soft and overcooked. The large bowl is $7.75 and the communally set tables are usually packed.

Pho & Crab Restaurant, 11660 Westheimer, suite 129
This is the newest place on the list, boasting a spectacular bowl of pho dac biet. Before the bowl arrived, the familiar aromatic smells lead the way to the table. The red onion is pristinely sliced and the server suggested ordering the eye of round separate for a rare to medium rare delivery of the meat. The delightful side of fresh herbs came with a sauce bowl of house-made sate chili paste. Coming in at $11, it is by far the most expensive bowl encountered. As far as a measure of value, quality and quantity, it is well worth the price.  

Pho Duy, 6968 Wilcrest
The meatiest bowl on the list is found at Pho Duy. The dac biet is overwhelmingly full of the usual suspects. The tendon, brisket, eye of round and meatballs dominate the bowl. The broth is incredibly clear and taste sweet and beefy. There is just the right amount of fattiness in the broth yet there are no visibly oily golden circles floating on the surface. The large special combination bowl is  $7.95.  

Pho Dien, 11830 Bellaire, suite C
There was a wait for a table and chatter among the crowd outside about a fear that the restaurant would run out of pho. A few minutes later, an older gentlemen came out to turn a sign on the door that notified customers to try its second location down the road at Kirkwood and Bellaire. 

We opted to try again another day. After a 20 minute wait, a seat became available at one of its communal tables. A fellow diner across the table suggested the marinated eye of round on the side. The bowl is huge. $7.75 buys a large bowl of seriously good Vietnamese comfort food. The fatty brisket is the most tender piece of meat in the bowl until the lime-marinated beef hit. There are not enough words to describe the first spoonful of noodle, broth and beef together. The man sitting across the table comes here at least two or three times a week. He says that Pho Dien is his favorite and he always picks up the bowl to slurp up all the broth. The broth is a perfectly executed beefy and fatty broth. The noodles are al dente and there is enough meat to include a piece in each bite.

With cooler weather around the corner, Houstonians will flock to their go-to places for pho. One of these ten pho restaurants are probably favorites already, but if not, definitely check them out.  

Let us know about other "pho-nomenal" places in your neighborhood and it may make the list next time around.
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Cuc Lam is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and local pop-up chef. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and hosting dinner parties when she is not writing.