Vietnam Cuisine Discovery: 27 Essential Vietnamese Restaurants In The United States | Vietcetera

Vietnam Cuisine Discovery: 27 Essential Vietnamese Restaurants In The United States

From Brooklyn to San Francisco, modern to traditional: we’ve rounded up the 27 of the best Vietnamese restaurants in America right now. 
Vietnam Cuisine Discovery: 27 Essential Vietnamese Restaurants In The United States

Vietnam Cuisine Discovery: 27 Essential Vietnamese Restaurants In The United States

Representing a population of over 2 million, Vietnamese America is anything but a monolith. Across the United States, there is a myriad of world-class restaurants that reflect its ever-changing tastes and preferences.

For instance, in Houston, you can find Viet-Cajun spots that have fused Vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass with Cajun-style boiled crawfish. On the other hand, in Southern California, where most Vietnamese Americans reside, there are traditional restaurants that celebrate the richness of Vietnamese and French cooking and also more contemporary joints like a trendy speakeasy tucked away in a fancy New American cuisine establishment.

While there’s certainly a fierce competition to be crowned the best bowl of pho or the tastiest, savoriest banh mi, Vietnamese cuisine in the U.S. goes well beyond those signature dishes and has adapted to the specificities of each region. But where to eat?

We’ve compiled a list that tries to cover it all — from old-school Little Saigon establishments that have been in the same strip-mall for multiple decades to ultra-hip restaurants making a splash in the Lower-East Side to hidden gems that are known by locals for serving the perfect pho ga, or chicken pho. Take a look at the 27 best Vietnamese restaurants in the United States.

Banh Cuon Thien Thanh

Houston, Texas

Banh Cuon Thien Thanh

This Chinatown strip-mall gem doesn’t have pho or banh mi. Rather, it’s famous for its Bahn Cuon — thinly wrapped rice flour crepes packed with ground, seasoned pork and sprinkled with crispy fried shallots. Since opening in 2004 in Houston, Texas, Thien Thanh Banh Cuon has been serving Northern dishes that can’t be found at your typical Vietnamese venue like Bánh bột lọc (dumplings with shrimp) and Bún ốc (snail vermicelli soup), and ca thanh long (turmeric-marinated fish fillets). Cash-only and low key, this spot opens at 8:30 AM since it serves items that are typical for Vietnamese breakfast and brunch.

Bolero

Brooklyn, New York

Bolero

Named after a dance that gained popularity in 1950s Vietnam, Bolero is a Brooklyn fine-dining take on Vietnamese classics. Chef Matt Le-Khac has rendered his restaurant into an homage to his diaspora upbringing. There’s a tiny shop where you can find all your favorite Vietnamese products such as condensed milk, fish sauce, and spring-roll wrappers and occasionally, fresh herbs straight from the chef’s father’s West Chester, Pennsylvania farm. Adding to the homey feel, patrons can eat in a backyard adjacent to an herb garden. Come for the Bún bò Huế (a signature soup from Huế), con nghêu hấp (clams steamed in a delicious beer broth), and the banh nam (rice dumplings with shrimp and pork and wrapped with banana leaves). Notably, you can have herbs that are hard to find elsewhere like culantro, betel leaves, and Vietnamese coriander.

Brodard Restaurant

Fountain Valley, California

Brodard Restaurant

Named “one of the most successful independently owned restaurant franchises in Orange County by KCET, Brodard is a cornerstone of Orange County’s flourishing Little Saigon community and a paradigm for family-owned establishments. The Dang family has been in the restaurant business for over six decades. After moving to Long Beach, California in 1989, they took over a tiny restaurant in Asian Garden mall and later in 1996, founded Brodard Restaurant in Westminster Avenue. The Dang family now operates multiple establishments across southern California. At their gigantic, 7,500 square-feet location in the Mall of Fortune, crowds gather to get an order of their Brodard Nem Nuong spring rolls.

Phở Gà Thanh Thanh

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phở Gà Thanh Thanh

Since 2001, Phở Gà Thanh Thanh has accrued a reputation as the ultimate spot to grab a bowl of pho ga — a poached chicken noodle soup served with bean sprouts, Thai basil, mint, and jalapenos. Frequent customers tend to get plain pho and ask for the chicken on the side. Regardless of what you choose, you will enjoy a sizzling bowl of flavorful soup in a welcoming, mom-and-pop atmosphere.

Cajun Kitchen

Houston, Texas

Cajun Kitchen

If you’re ever visiting Houston, Texas, you simply can’t leave without indulging in Viet-Cajun food. The organic invention of Vietnamese immigrants who landed in the Gulf Coast region, it’s become an iconic symbol of Houston’s diversity and culture. Though many Viet-Cajun restaurants have earned national attention, locals know to head to Cajun Kitchen for everything from hearty po boys and braised turkey necks to crab fried rice and garlic butter crawfish.

Crustacean

Beverly Hills, California

Crustacean

Since its founding in 1997, Crustacean has made a name for itself as an iconic, gourmet dining experience in Beverly Hills, California. The Asian fusion restaurant pulls from various cuisines, offering diners the chance to enjoy sushi, sashimi, pho soup dumplings, and fried rice over the course of one meal. The restaurant went over a lavish $10 million redesign in 2018 and is a frequent hangout spot for Tinseltown's brightest stars.

Di An Di

Brooklyn, New York

Di An Di

Di An Di — which means “let’s go eat” — showcases Vietnamese cuisine across borders, highlighting flavors from Nha Trang (where chef Dennis Ngo’s parents were born), Houston (Ngo’s hometown), and New York City. A com gà dish pays tribute to both New York’s popular dish of halal chicken and rice and Houston barbecue with a fish sauce glaze. On top of that, there are a myriad of playful cocktails — think a Viet-chelada, fusing beer, tomato juice, and chilli garlic sauce; and a No… I Won’t Go To Brooklyn (trust us, you should go to Brooklyn for this one).

Doi Moi

Washington D.C.

Doi Moi

Doi Moi celebrates the colorful street markets of Vietnam with an eclectic range of small plates and treats. The restaurant opened in 2013 and recently went through a revamp and hired Wade Hoo Fatt as executive chef. In addition to a sprawling selection of sauces and classic Vietnamese dishes, bar manager Paul Martinez is creating finely crafted sugarcane pineapple, guava, and kumquat moonshine elixirs bottled for you to enjoy. In the spirit of D.C, the 44th President has a dish named after him — Obama’s Bún Chả, grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles and sour broth.

Garlic and Chives

Garden Grove, California

Garlic and Chives

Based in Little’s Saigon’s Mall of Fortune, Garlic and Chives has accrued numerous accolades. Notably, in 2015, it’s pomelo salad was included in the late Jonathan Gold’s top 10 best dishes of the year. Beneath a sparking chandelier, guests enjoy a myriad of tasty, garlic-packed specialties like lau (a hot-pot dish that’s packed with a range of seafood, meat, and vegetables),roasted crab, and baked crispy catfish.

Hai Hai

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hai Hai

Originally a food truck, Hai Hai has gained a national reputation for excellence since moving to a permanent, brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Indeed, Chef Christina Nguyen’s work earned her a coveted spot as a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest in 2019 and 2020. The restaurant pulls from various Southeast Asian cuisines — you can enjoy some Balinese chicken thighs, Khao Soi noodle soup, and Hanoi sticky rice. Indulge in the festive atmosphere and have yourself a cocktail (the Koh Coco slushie sounds particularly delightful).

HaiSous

Chicago, Illinois

HaiSous

Founded in 2017 by Thai and Danielle Dang, HaiSous is notable for its sophisticated takes on Vietnamese traditional cuisine and beautiful decor (exposed brick and arch windows). In the mood for something sweet? Try the Bánh Trái Vi — a cream-cheese pastry bathed in lychee syrup and stuffed with lychee. Since opening, it’s won a myriad of accolades like Michelin’s Bib Gourmand in 2018 and 2019 and a semifinalist place for James Beard’s Best Chef Midwest in 2019 and James Beard’s Best New Restaurant in 2018.

Kau Ba Kitchen

Houston, Texas

Kau Ba Kitchen

Kau Ba’s chef and owner Nikki Tran has been featured in hit Netflix series such as Ugly Delicious, Street Food, and Somebody Feed Phil. With its mouth-watering renditions of Viet-Cajun like Southern Bun Bo Xao (noodle salad with stir-fried beef, apples, pickles, and beansprouts) and Seafood Viejun (mussels, prawns, and corned cooked in a delicious Viejun sauce), the restaurant certainly lives up to the hype. Founded in 2018, the restaurant has left its mark in a city that already features some of the best Vietnamese establishments in the entire country.

LSXO

Huntington Beach, California

LSXO

LSXO is a Huntington Beach speakeasy that’s hidden within Bluegold, a New American cuisine restaurant that was founded in 2019. Hard to get a reservation at, the elusive spot offers contemporary takes on Vietnamese favorites like Bahn mi, Ca Kho To (braised salmon in a claypot), and Bo Ne (steak and eggs). Situated right next to Huntington Beach on the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, LSXO earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin Guide in 2019.

Luc Lac

Portland, Oregon

Luc Lac

Founded in 2011 by Adam and Al an Ho, countertop restaurant Luc Lac opened during the food renaissance that transformed the heart of downtown in Rose City. In 2015, it won “Best Pho” in Willamette Week’s reader poll. With it’s hip, exposed brick exterior, diverse selection of drinks (try the Sassy Sour!), and late open-hours (closes at 4 AM on the weekend) , Luc Lac has a relaxed vibe that’s great for capping off — or starting— a dynamic night.

Madame Vo

New York, New York

Madame Vo

Started by husband and wife duo Chef Jimmy Ly and Yen Vo in 2017, Madame Vo has left its mark in a city packed with competition. The restaurant’s most popular dish — the Instagram-famous Madame Pho — comes topped with a hulking fall-off-the-bone piece of short rib. Described as a “love letter to homestyle cooking,” the bustling restaurant pulls from the classics — think of it as comfort food with an elevated, contemporary twist.

Pho 75

Arlington, Virginia

Pho 75

Pho 75 is a widely beloved chain restaurant turning out Vietnam’s beloved bowl of soup across the D.C. area all the way up to. The unassuming, cash-only gem has been awarded countless “Best Bargain” accolades. Its enduring success demonstrates that regardless of the ebbs and flow of food trends — even the modernization of Vietnamese food — folks will always still have their favorite no-frills savory broth, noodles, and beef.

Pho Bac Seattle

Seattle, Washington

Pho Bac Seattle

Dubbed “Seattle’s original pho,” Pho Bac is a group of restaurants in Seattle, Washington that’s run by the Pham family. Founded in 1982 by Theresa Cat Vu and Augustine Nien Pham, the pho restaurant has grown from being one modest location (an iconic red boat-shaped venue) into a mini-empire. In addition to the flagship location (which is temporarily closed), the Pham family operates multiple Phoc Bacs, Hello Em (a cafe and roastery serving Vietnamese coffee and treats), and Phocific Standard Time (a cocktail bar operating right above Pho Bac’s downtown location that’s a hip addition to their foodie kingdom).

The Pig and the Lady

Honolulu, Hawaii

The Pig and the Lady

Spearheaded by Chef Andrew Le, a twice-nominated James Beard semi-finalist, The Pig and the Lady started out as a pop-up location in 2011 and then in 2014, opened as a brick-and-mortar restaurant located in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood. In 2015, it was named “Best New Restaurant” by Honolulu Magazine. This hip, upscale joint encapsulates fusion cuisine’s inventive, fierce spirit. Just as Hawaii sits in the intersection of numerous cultures, the Pig and the Lady brings flavors from all over — Jamaica, India, Thailand, and of course, Vietnam. Their Pho French Dip seems particularly enticing — a slow-roasted beef brisket sandwich sauced with Thai basil chimichurri and served with a pho dipping sauce.

Song Long

Westminster, California

Song Long

Founded in 1981, Song Long stands as one of Little Saigon’s oldest — and most revered — establishments. The restaurant offers some of the favorites from both Vietnamese and French cuisine. Over the course of a meal, you can enjoy egg rolls, French onion soup, bun cha (meatballs) and com bo kho (beef stew with rice).

Tamarine

Palo Alto, California

Tamarine

Run by the sister duo of Tanya Hartley and Tammy Huynh, Tamarine opened in 2002 in America’s hub for technologic innovation. Tamarine marries Vietnamese cuisine’s sophisticated textures and flavors with California’s notoriously fresh produce. Dishes range from flash-fried prawns to lemongrass tofu to Ha Long Bay soup (the coriander & coconut milk consommé sounds delightful). As a tribute to their native country, Tamarine has a gallery showing artwork made by creatives all across Vietnam. The restaurant has racked up a mention from Michelin and in 2015, won Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence.

Sochi

Chicago, Illinois

Sochi

Sochi is one of Chicago’s buzziest 2021 additions. Launched by power couple Chinh Pham and Son Do, it’s a nod to the pair’s upbringing in Saigon. Serving Southern-style noodles, Goi Vit Thanh Da (banana blossom duck salad), and egg rolls made with a rice paper straight from the motherland, Pham and Do aim to take the cuisine to new heights. Sochi has a distinctly contemporary feel with an open kitchen and chic wooden tables centered by potted plants.

Rice Paper

Falls Church, Virginia

Rice Paper

Rice Paper opened in 2012 in the Eden Center, the nucleus of Falls Church’s Vietnamese community. The spot is largely known for offering contemporary renditions of classics. Popular items include a combo platter of grilled pork, grilled beef, and seafood and a Bánh Xèo — a crepe filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and mung beans. To conceptualize the menu, Chef Phuong Ho updated co-owner Xuan Tran’s recipes she brought with her from Rạch Giá, Vietnam.

Tan Dinh

New Orleans, Louisiana

Tan Dinh

In the Gretna neighborhood, you will find Tan Dinh — a delicious restaurant that serves impeccable pho, garlic butter chicken wings, fried frog legs, and in the spirit of NOLA, catfish fillet. This strip-mall treasure has a remarkably extensive menu and is definitely the type of place to visit more than once.

Pho Tau Bay

New Orleans, Louisiana

Pho Tau Bay

Run by the same Vietnamese family for over thirty years, Pho Tau Bay is a cornerstone of New Orleans’ Vietnamese community. Pho Tau Bay translates to “Airport Soup” as a nod to the family’s first restaurant adjacent to an airbase in Vietnam. In recent years, it’s earned praise from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and was featured on an episode of the late Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel series.

Cafe Nhan

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cafe Nhan

Cafe Nhan is a low-key restaurant in south Philly that’s been owned and operated by the mother-son duo of Nhan and Andrew since 2014. As a Central Vietnam native, Nhan serves up one of the region’s signature dishes — Bun Bo Hue Dac Biet (beef brisket, pig feet, steamed pork roll and blood cubes in a rich, flavorful lemongrass broth). If you aren’t in the mood for soup, Cafe Khan has quite the selection of Banh Mi.

Cao Nguyen

San Jose, California

Cao Nguyen

The family-owned restaurant Cao Nguyen has been operating since 1996. Come for the Cá Bass Hap Bánh Tráng — steamed sea bass served with fresh herbs, pickled vegetables, and a range of fish sauces. The dish is served with rolling paper for tiny wraps. You should also try their vermicelli with perfectly crispy grilled pork, and if you’re up for it, order the other seafood on the menu. Translating to “highlands” in Vietnamese, it’s interior is an elegant homage to the region with bamboo decorations, traditional baskets, potted plants, and paintings depicting indigenous Highlanders.

Vung Tau

San Jose, California

Vung Tau

Run by the Huynhs, the family that started Palo Alto’s critically acclaimed gourmet restaurant Tamarine, Vung Tau is a California institution. Founded in 1985 as a modest, twelve-table restaurant, Vung Tau eventually expanded into a space that can serve up to 150 people. It earned the title of “Best Vietnamese Restaurant” from Silicon Valley magazine in 2001. The expansive menu features refined versions of Vietnamese classics. Though you can’t go no wrong with any of the dishes, the caramelized sea bass and signature papaya salad are crowd favorites. The interior has been described as “sleek yet comfortable.”