The ultimate pho-off

Echo staffers rank the best restaurants for pho

Anya Panday and Layla Mickelson

Living in Minnesota can be rough, especially with the cold and dry winters you have to endure every year. To combat the constant below-zero temperatures, runny noses and a variety of illnesses that come with every winter, many people turn to a warm drink or a bowl of soup. Pho, a Vietnamese soup made from slow-simmered broth, herbs, beef, rice noodles and plenty of toppings, is one of the best ways to stay warm during winter. To help students this winter, we have decided to rank the top four places to get pho.

#1: Quang — ★★★★★

Our top choice is Quang and it’s number one for a reason. Despite the 20 minute distance from Park, it is 100% worth the drive. The proportion from the broth to the rice noodles to the perfectly sliced beef couldn’t be better. With every mouthwatering bite, there’s absolutely nothing that could go wrong. The complimentary bean sprouts, basil, lime and jalapeño push the pho to another level. It accentuates what’s already in the bowl to the best it can be. The broth is a perfect 10, packed full of flavor and can easily warm you with every sip. Its complexity leaves you wanting more and more of its enticing, tasty flavor. The number of noodles and beef in proportion to the broth also could not have been better. Every bite is a full one, filled with everything you could ever want. The beef is also soft and buttery, with no chewiness in sight. Quang is the best place to get a reliable, comforting bowl of pho. 

#2: Gion Restaurant — ★★★★☆

Second on the list is Gion Restaurant. Gion is a popular local Vietnamese restaurant, with a peaceful atmosphere and plenty of soup options on the menu. However, no soup at Gion is better than their iconic sliced beef pho. The pho is everything you’d want it to be — warm, savory and full of flavor. The broth is salty and palatable, the beef is well-cooked and isn’t chewy, the rice noodles, basil and sprouts are fresh and the jalapeños and chili oil create a nice heat that isn’t overbearing or underwhelming. However, there’s something about Quang that just can’t be matched. Gion’s broth had less “complexity” to the flavor, and Quang was more generous with the meat and rice noodles. Despite this, you can go to Gion if you want a big, solid bowl of pho that is guaranteed to be consistently delicious and satisfying for a reasonable price.

#3: Wok in the Park — ★★★☆☆

Next on the list is Wok in the Park. At only 1.5 miles away, this is the most accessible option on the list. However, it also ranks as one of the lowest. The pho at Wok wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anywhere near the best on this list. It was your standard bowl of pho, with broth, rice noodles, jalapeños and other similar ingredients. However, the taste didn’t stand out to me at all. The broth lacked flavor and I found myself adding more and more sriracha to make up for the lack of quality in the broth. Furthermore, the “sliced beef” was really just steak. While I appreciated that they were generous with the meat, no one gets pho with the intent to spend a good two minutes chewing through each piece of beef. Overall, Wok lacked the flavor and comfort of the other stronger options on this list.

#4: Pho 79 — ★★★☆☆

Last on the list is Pho 79. It is a bit of a drive out to Eat Street, but the calm atmosphere is almost worth it. It is a quaint little restaurant that had been recommended multiple times, but it was disappointing. The broth itself was delicious, but lacked flavor and left me bored. One highlight was the beef, which was absolutely amazing. It was super thin and led me to eat it all first, leaving me with just the noodles. The noodles were also delicious but there aren’t nearly as many as there should be. I felt like it was lacking and I was left with a bowl of broth that I continued to slurp up.