The original Pho Binh was founded in Houston in 1983 by a single family with a dream to run a restaurant. Today it has expanded into eight restaurants that serve the Houston area. Pho is their staple dish, a traditional noodle soup originally from Hanoi in Northern Vietnam, which has gained significant popularity in the United States as well. The restaurant boasts of their “authentic ‘Pho Bac’ taste that many critics agreed came close to the original pho that began in Hanoi.” While I haven’t tasted the dish in Hanoi, I understand why Pho Binh has been called one of the best pho restaurants in Houston.
Experience & Ambience
As you enter the restaurant, you will notice the bar to your left with a hanging sign that reads “order here.” The finished wooden floors and ceilings accompanied by worn-looking walls and tables give the room a rustic feeling. The incorporation of small modern elements like the scattered string lights which hang from the ceiling, add to the uniqueness of the cozy atmosphere. Customers order and pay for their meals at the bar before receiving a number and venturing to a table of their choice. Patrons may pick up utensils, napkins, and extra sauces by the drink dispensers at the far end of the establishment before choosing their table. Shortly thereafter, the wait staff will find your table and deliver your food. I have always found that the staff are friendly and understanding. Even on the occasion that a mistake was made with my order, they were happy to remedy the situation without imparting any sense of ill will.
Price & Rating
The price of a typical entre is around $15, which is pretty fairly priced for the quantity of food received, especially with the noodle dishes. On the other hand, some menu items have risen in price such as appetizers, which now cost closer to $8. This is somewhat expensive considering the size of the appetizer portions. Similarly, the sandwiches have risen in price since the Pandemic, which makes them less of a deal than they once were, however the quality of the product has remained consistent. The prices of non-alcoholic drinks were similar to what you would find at any other location serving bubble tea or iced coffee. Overall I would recommend the restaurant as I still find the prices are reasonable, the food is quality, I enjoy the atmosphere, and the staff have always been friendly.
What To Order?
These large bowls of thin rice noodles come topped with freshly grilled meats and an assortment of lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers. Whether you choose grilled shrimp, chicken or pork, you really can’t go wrong. The noodles and veggies have a mild flavor that allows the meat to stand as the focal point of the dish without it being overly heavy. If you are looking for a healthy option that is often enough food to split with a friend, these vermicelli bowls may pique your interest.
For noodle lovers, a hearty option that rivals the vermicelli bowls is pho. This Vietnamese soup is the restaurant’s staple dish, featuring the same vermicelli rice noodles paired with thinly sliced meats ranging from brisket to tripe, all pleasantly steeped in a warm bone broth. Bean sprouts, basil leaves, and lime wedges come on the side for patrons who enjoy mix-ins. For those of us that are less familiar with traditional meat options, I recommend sticking with the classic beef brisket or eye round steak.
I still maintain that the grilled pork sandwich or Banh Mi Thit Nuong is one of the best that you can find around Houston. Picture a crispy baguette sliced in half and stuffed full with savory grilled meat, cucumbers, carrots, sauces, and a slice of jalapeno for us Texans. Compared to other restaurants that sell similar sandwiches, I am always impressed with the flavor of the meat and the fact that their bread is never served soggy at this location.
The Vietnamese style egg rolls come with a light and crispy wrapper, compared to the thicker Chinese variants sold elsewhere, and are stuffed with veggies and ground pork. The egg rolls at Pho Binh are a bit on the smaller side, but they are always hot and crispy, making for a tasty appetizer nonetheless.
Drinks & Treats
For those of us with a sweet tooth, the restaurant makes a wide range of smoothies and teas that can come with or without chewy tapioca pearls. Among them is the rather unique avocado taro smoothie, a combination that was surprisingly good as well as difficult to find elsewhere. If smoothies aren’t your cup of tea, the Vietnamese coffee in either blended or the regular iced form, makes for a delectable caffeinated treat.
Looking For A New Home?
Check out these active listings!