Best Phở in Orange County!
Phở and I have had a respectably long history together. Even so, I only recently learned that this steaming brothy soup did not originate as a comfort food like it is often perceived as here in the U.S. In Vietnam, Phở is a meal that can be eaten at any time of day. It is primarily sold as a street food, which makes it quick and easy to get your hands on. Typically, this delectable dish consists of thin rice-noodles, beef broth, minimal use of herbs and spices, and some sort of meat (typically beef or chicken). Common garnishes in a “Northern Phở” dish include green onions, fish sauce, and chili sauce. “Southern Phở”— signifying its origin in Southern Vietnam—introduces bean sprouts, lime, and even sriracha sauce to the equation! Although Phở’s history is poorly documented at best, we know that it originated in Northern Vietnam after World War II, and was carried to every corner of the globe by refugees. It’s not hard to fact-check that claim, because in Southern California there is a Phở shop around every corner. There are so many in Orange County alone that there is no way I could have tried them all, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share my favorite Phở eateries so far.
This restaurant is my number one go-to destination. There were a few months in my life where I was eating a slew Phở and Vermicelli noodle dishes every week at Phởlicious. The owner and many employees are always wonderful and kind, and the bright colored fans, beautiful paintings, soft music, and dramatic decor make your eating experience so enjoyable. The Phở served at Phởlicious truly lives up to its name. The meat in their soups are so tender and they have so many hearty options like the always tender Phở Tai (rare steak), and the highly recommended Phở Ga (chicken). Their broth is not overly salted, and you will never leave hungry. I have to recommend the Vermicelli Tofu bowl with peanut sauce instead of fish sauce—it’s my kryptonite! I would pair your dish with some strong Vietnamese coffee or a tasty Thai milk tea, and end the night with house-made sesame balls that are sure to blow your mind.
Tip: For some free sesame balls, like them on Facebook!
Best Late Night phƠ
Phở 54 has some the quickest service and most satisfying Phở I have had in Orange County. The interior of this late-night eatery is fantastic. The walls are lined with a turquoise neon color, Buddha of all shapes and sizes guard the doorways (including a life-sized Buddha!), and the tables are bright and look almost futuristic. It’s goofy in a great way. The shop itself seems to be bustling at all hours, yet a server will be at your table in a matter of seconds to take your order. I wish I weren’t so indecisive; our table had to turn her away a few times so I could finally figure out what I wanted. My favorite Yelp review for Phở 54 was written by Jen in San Diego, and says “Pho 54 is also open until 3am so it makes it easy to cure those late night (potentially drunken) pho cravings.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. The late hours are so convenient, and the phở itself is so fulfilling. At about six to seven dollars for an average bowl, the phở is certainly under priced for it’s quality. They have all the typical phở variations and their flavors are pleasantly mild, never overwhelmed with spices.
Tip: Cash only! ATM in store.
This Phở joint goes seemingly unnoticed in our area. Maybe this is because it is surrounded by other similar phở restaurants, or maybe it is simply tucked away from sight. Even so, this restaurant is still busy all hours of the day, but I’ve never known anyone else who frequents this place in my area. It’s such a shame because it is absolutely delectable! The broth for their phở warms and delights every taste bud on my tongue as it is fiendishly loaded with green onion, seasoned to perfection, and served over a heaping pile of tender rice noodles. Absolute perfection. I have also taken a liking to their dishes with tendon, which may sound a bit off-putting but actually beautifully compliments any dish. Phở Thanh also serve incredibly authentic dishes paired with sides not commonly found at phở restaurants in OC, such as gai herb and satay sauce. The rare meat is still rare upon arrival, making it delightfully tender as it bubbles in the boiling broth. The service here may be spotty, as they are busy people, but the food always comes to you in a flash! I can’t say enough about their unique flavors and wonderful options.
Tip: Cash only! ATM in store.
Thank you for reading about our favorite phở restaurants! If you favorites you think we should missed, let us know in the comments below.