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The Nine Best Pho Spots In Los Angeles and Orange County

9:00 AM PST on December 5, 2022

    Pho is a perfect cold-weather companion. Luckily as Southern Californians, we live near one of the country’s largest Vietnamese populations in the San Gabriel Valley, Garden Grove, and Westminster. 

    A good bowl of pho can be judged on the quality of its broth, which usually takes hours to simmer to a beautiful depth of flavor. The most traditional broth is made from a beef base, but a pho ga (chicken pho) can be a warm hug for the soul. Los Angeles is also excellent at looking out for its vegetarians, and your meat-eating correspondent orders the pho chay (veggie pho) at certain spots because it’s just that well-crafted.

    Here are eight places worth the drive.

    Pho Ga District
    Pho Ga District. Photo by Lynn Q Yu for L.A. TACO.

    PHO GA DISTRICT

    A family-run joint based out of Rosemead, Pho Ga District has one of the best bowls of noodles in the whole city. Simple and flavorful, their signature pho ga dish is filled with wide noodles (as opposed to pho’s traditional thin vermicelli), beautifully sliced chicken, and a consistently excellent chicken broth. Sides of fresh ginger are available for dipping. Phan Tran, the genius in the kitchen, grew up in Vietnam and has been selling pho since she was 14-years old. Her daughter, Diana Du, and Diana’s boyfriend, Eric Chang, run the front of the house, conversing fluently in both English and Cantonese with the locals. 

    Pho Ga District is frequently slammed during the lunch rush hour, but Diana and Eric have a knack for navigating the crowds and remembering regulars’ usual orders. The restaurant only seats about 30-40 people, and all 30-40 seats are usually taken. The clear and balanced chicken broth is absolutely worth the wait.

    3119 N San Gabriel Blvd J, Rosemead, CA 91770. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 70 - “Garvey/San Gabriel.”

    Photo via Nong La Cafe/Instagram.
    Photo via Nong La Cafe/Instagram.

    NONG LA CAFE

    Arguably the best pho on the west side, Nong La Cafe has two locations: one in Sawtelle Japantown and one on La Brea. The pho dac biet here is exceptional. “Dac biet” is the Vietnamese equivalent of Spanish’s “con todo”—the house special that comes “with everything.” Nong La’s pho dac biet contains rare filet mignon, brisket, tripe, and beef balls. Like Pho Ga District, Nong La Cafe was started as a family affair by siblings Elaine and Victor Phuong, who wanted to honor their mother’s cooking.

    While the Sawtelle location is their flagship, the La Brea one is generally less crowded and more quiet. The vegetarian pho at Nong La Cafe is also a standout, filled with mushrooms, tofu, and vegetables — when I want to bring vegetarians along for a pho trek, Nong La is my go-to. 

    2055 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 4 - “Santa Monica/Corinth” or Metro E Line - "Expo/Sepulveda Station."

    145 N La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 14 or 212  - “Beverly/La Brea.”

    Photo via Pho Saigon Republic/Instagram.
    Photo via Pho Saigon Republic/Instagram.

    PHO SAIGON REPUBLIC

    There are many pho restaurants named “Pho Saigon,” but the “Pho Saigon Republic” we’re thinking of is the one located in the heart of Chinatown. The place was formerly known as Pho Hoa before receiving a rebrand in recent years. Service can sometimes be brusque and hurried, but the beef broth is rich and full of flavor. Loud Vietnamese or Chinese music is often blaring from the televisions, and a crew of older men flurry about delivering dishes and bussing tables. I’m not even sure there’s a bathroom in the place, but I keep going back. The broth is worth the trip.

    818 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA, 90012. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A Line - "Chinatown Station" or Bus Line 45 - “Broadway/College.”

    Photo via @ala.unni/Instagram.
    Photo via @ala.unni/Instagram.

    PHO 87

    Pho 87 is something of an institution in Chinatown—the lunchtime crowd offers a peek into a wide-ranging cross-section of L.A. Everyone from office workers to police officers to Latino and Asian families can be found sitting under Pho 87’s blasting AC units. Service is fast, efficient, and no-nonsense, and the guys who run Pho 87 know how to turn tables like it’s nobody’s business. I am particularly partial to Pho 87’s bun bo hue, a spicy Vietnamese soup that contains pork knuckles and cubes of pig’s blood. The noodles in bun bo hue are thicker and slipperier compared to pho’s vermicelli, and they’re a great vessel for carrying the broth’s lemongrass and spicy flavors.

    1019 N Broadway, Los Angeles, 90012. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A Line - "Chinatown Station" or Bus Line 45 - “Broadway/Bernard.”

    Golden Deli's Egg Rolls.
    Golden Deli's Egg Rolls. Photo by Lynn Q Yu for L.A. TACO.

    GOLDEN DELI

    Golden Deli is so popular that on most weeknights, dinner service often requires a 30 minute wait. With locations in San Gabriel and Temple City, Golden Deli has been a long-time fixture of the SGV’s pho game. They are famous for their phan cha gio, a platter of five egg rolls that are perfectly crisped and fried on the outside, with a delicious pork stuffing on the inside. The cha gio is a must alongside any order of pho.

    815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91176. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 78 or 487 - “Las Tunas/Mission.”

    Photo via @pho79_/Instagram.
    Photo via @pho79_/Instagram.

    PHO 79

    Don’t worry. A list of the region’s best pho is not complete without Pho 79 in Garden Grove. Pho 79 was one of the first pho restaurants in the region when it opened in 1982, and it helped to foster Southern California’s wider pho movement. For its contributions, it received the James Beard Award in 2019, later followed by the Michelin Bib Gourmand distinction in 2021. It’s unsurprising, as the beef brisket pho is aromatic, rich, and one of the best bowls of noodles you’ll find in the state. Order a side of oxtail because why not? It comes floating in more pho broth. 

    9941 Hazard Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844. Closest transit line: OC Bus Line 35 - "Brookhurst/Hazard."

    Quan Hop's pho.
    Quan Hop's pho. Photo by Lynn Q Yu for L.A. TACO.

    QUAN HOP

    While Quan Hop offers a perfectly serviceable beef pho, perhaps what they’re best known for is their seafood. Their bun rieu is a crab meat noodle soup, while their bun ca tom cua contains both salmon and crab meat. It’s hard to find a place that does seafood noodle soup as well as Quan Hop does. The restaurant usually plays ambient jazz tunes, and the overall vibe of the restaurant is slow and relaxed compared to some of the more fast-paced pho counterparts nearby.

    15640 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683. Closest transit lines: OC Bus Lines 35 and 66 - "Brookhurst/McFadden."

    Phoholic. Photo by Lynn Q Yu for L.A. TACO.
    Phoholic. Photo by Lynn Q Yu for L.A. TACO.

    Phoholic 

    PhoHolic, like many of the more popular pho spots mentioned in this list, often has a long line of people waiting outside in its parking lot (the parking lot is compact, and it’s easier to find street parking by the nearby school). The line moves fast, though, and the beef pho makes the wait worth it. PhoHolic is better known for offering huge beef bones and oxtail bones on the side—they usually come in pairs and can be cut with scissors. For any lovers of beef ribs, the beef bones are a must-try.

    14932 Bushard St, Westminster, CA 92683. Closest transit line: OC Bus Line 64 - "Bolsa/Bushard."

    Photo via Pho Filet 2.
    Photo via Pho Filet 2.

    Pho Filet 2

    What separates the pho at Pho Filet 2 from the rest of the pho noodle shops in town is the use of superlatively beefy and tender filet mignon, and slices of fresh ginger in addition to the raw onion, basil, and bean sprouts. The quality and deeply beefy flavor will stand out as soon as you take your first bite. Despite the higher quality beef, the price is still competitive with the rest of the shops. They give you an option of substituting fresh rice noodles for all their pho options, which you should try if you have not. The noodles are more slippery and even easier to disproportionately finish before you the beef, even. The original Pho Filet is just a few blocks away, but I prefer this spot because they have cheap beer and a banh xeo that holds its own against the best in Westminster. - Javier Cabral

    2643 San Gabriel Blvd Rosemead, CA 91770. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 70 - “Garvey/San Gabriel.”

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