Editor's note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2012. It was updated on April 29, 2019.
Affordable, mostly healthy, and not "too weird" for most American palates, Vietnamese food is easy to enjoy. But if you don't plan on using the sauces and condiments on the table, you're missing out on what makes the cuisine so delicious. Don't worry about having to understand them all; just try a few, or better yet, ask for help. And if there's a language barrier, simply shrug your shoulders, look confused, and point to them. The reward is better-tasting and more flavorful dishes.
Hue Gourmet66 South Dobson Road, #126, Mesa
Like the moniker, this little gem of unique Vietnamese fare hidden in the food court of Mesa's Mekong Plaza focuses on the distinctive cuisine of Hue, the capital city of Thua Thien, in the Hue province of Vietnam. At Hue Gourmet, try dishes like bun bo hue (spicy red soup); rice cakes topped with dried, ground shrimp, and fried pork skin; bánh khot (miniature fried pancakes); and pâté chauds (Vietnamese puff pastries with a meat filling).
Da Vang4538 North 19th Avenue
This family-owned staple in central Phoenix has been serving up crazy-cheap, authentic Vietnamese fare from its hole-in-the-wall home for around 20 years. With over 75 menu items at Da Vang, indecision can set in fast, but remember to stick with the highlights: gigantic spring rolls, dishes of barbecued pork and shrimp, the seafood hot pot, and, of course, pho. Flour crepes pan-fried with shrimp and pork or a cháo (porridge) are also tasty selections.
Saigon Pho 1381 North Alma School Road, Chandler
Saigon Pho is a no-frills eatery in Chandler that focuses on solid and inexpensive fare as well as friendly service. Check out satisfying spring rolls, sweet lemongrass chicken over rice, and the popular Saigon beef rice noodle soup (pho) or opt for less familiar (but still delicious) dishes such as ca kho (caramelized clay pot catfish) and canh chua (sour soup with okra and taro stems).
Little Saigon7016 North 57th Avenue, Glendale
This cozy cottage in downtown Glendale's historic antique district seems fitting for its offerings of Vietnamese comfort food. Little Saigon is a family-owned restaurant and is a hit with the locals who love to order up dishes like huge and crispy rice-flour crepes packed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts; satisfying combination plates such as grilled shrimp and pork with steamed white rice and topped with a sunny-side up egg; and the veggie friendly rau bo xoi xao toi featuring sautéed spinach.
Khai Hoan1537 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe
The number of steaming bowls of pho being slurped up by regulars at Khai Hoan should be a good clue as to what to order. From sliced chicken breast, to thin sliced rare beef, to the all-kinds-of-beef " #1 Super Everything" variety, the bowls of pho come out quicker than you might expect. Perfect if you're in a rush — or just really hungry.
Unphogettable66 South Dobson Road, Mesa
Yes, the name Unphogettable is a bit silly, but this welcoming spot in Mesa's Mekong Plaza is serious about delivering satisfying Vietnamese food to its customers. Along with several varieties of pho from various regions of Vietnam, expect to find rice paper rolls stuffed with ingredients like fried eggs, handmade pork sausage, and jicama.
Maxim Restaurant3424 North 19th Avenue
This little eatery in a central Phoenix strip mall serves up serves up solid Vietnamese favorites — and quickly — along with affordable prices and friendly service. Maxim Restaurant's house specialty is pho, which can be followed by dishes like seafood banh canh, Viet Vermicelli (a rice noodle dish with grilled pork and shrimp and a side of fish sauce), and pork and shrimp pancakes. Don't miss the spring rolls — they're a customer favorite.
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3 Regions Vietnamese Kitchen28325 N Tatum Blvd, Cave Creek
One reason why 3 Regions Vietnamese Kitchen, opened in June 2018 in Cave Creek, has been packed is because it's the other Vietnamese restaurant in the area. The other? The food. Jenna Dao, chef at 3 Regions, is especially praised for bun bo Hue. This soup is similar to pho, casting beef and rice noodles in central roles and coming with the same saucer of bean sprouts, basil, and jalapeños. Other suggestions include the banh xeo, bun cha, and pho dac biet.
AZ Pho and Grill3140 South Gilbert Road, #1, Chandler
Stop by AZ Pho and Grill to satisfy your pho craving while sipping on some delicious boba. Make the near impossible decision of selecting a dish from over five dozen options. A popular dish is the special combo pho, which is filled with steak, brisket, meatballs, flank, tripe, and tendon. Wash it down with refreshing boba milk tea or a fruity smoothie.
Pho Thanh1702 West Camelback Road
Almost a decade ago, this go-to spot in central Phoenix doubled in size — a testament to the fact that word's getting out about Pho Thanh's exceptional, affordable Vietnamese dishes (over 150 of them). The pho is exceptional — wonderfully rich and flavorful — plus, there are satisfying dishes like DIY rolls featuring shrimp paste grilled on sugarcane, raw beef tenderloin that you cook on a tabletop grill, and $2.50 (not a typo) bahn mi sandwiches that rival most in the Valley.
Pho Chandler4055 South Arizona Avenue, #8, Chandler
This inviting and tucked-away eatery in Chandler sees a steady stream of regulars thanks to its satisfying selection of Vietnamese favorites. Most come to Pho Chandler for the pho — in particular, the spicy seafood, chicken, and rare-beef varieties — as well as lemongrass chicken, giant spring rolls, and grilled pork dishes. Need some help? A friendly staff is happy to help you find a favorite; or if you're a newbie, let you know what condiments will work best.