6236 NE Sandy Blvd., 281-2990, phoansandy.com.
[PHO REAL] Despite its mustard-yellow paint and cartoonish taco-shop roof, Pho An goes easily unnoticed among many rundown establishments on Northeast Sandy Boulevard. But if you can look past the exterior, and pay no mind to the resident crying baby upon entering, you’ll remember the reason you ventured here in the first place: some of the best pho in town. To begin my visit, the wonderfully flaky and steamy cha gio (fried spring rolls) are delivered via wheely cart by a man who speaks little English. Next up, the pho dac biet (the house specialty,), with balanced and beefy broth infused with tender, lean flank, brisket and tripe, accompanied by a generous plate of crisp greens. The short ribs are richly flavorful but the meat on the bones is scarce. Three middle-aged couples occupying the dining room seem to be regular patrons—a Vietnamese couple have a particularly systematic way of extracting the meat from the broth before eating. The owners of Pho An might not devote their attention to the restaurant’s ambiance and décor, but look no further than their meticulously prepared dishes to see where their priorities lie.
Ideal Meal: Mi xao mem thap cam is a heaping serving of beef and shrimp over soft chow mein and vegetables.
Best Deal: Any of the noodle soups are enough for two reasonably hungry adults.
Pro Tip: If you don’t know what pizzle is, you probably want to look that up before ordering it.
9 am-9 pm daily. $$.