Pho 75 – Rockville

This mini-chain puts out the area's best, most restorative Vietnamese soups.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

Pho is often called a soup, but it's really more of an elixir. The fiercely beefy broth with notes of star anise and legendary restorative powers draws legions of fans to these streamlined parlors.

Go on a Sunday at noon for the ultimate experience: Vietnamese fathers teaching toddlers how to slurp the noodles just so, grandmothers liberally shaking hot sauce into their steaming bowls, teenagers giggling and sipping on fresh-squeezed lemon sodas. All of it unfolds at long communal tables arranged in cafeteria-style rows.

For a one-dish concept, the menu is miles long. Besides the broth and thin rice noodles, you get your pick of beef: brisket, fatty brisket, soft tendon, flank steak, tripe, meatballs, and more. You can customize your bowl with as many beefy bits as you like. And you can add sprouts, a spritz of lime, green chilies, or Asian basil to taste–all of which you'll find on a heaping plate that arrives with the soup. A dash of soy sauce and a shot of hoisin and you don't need much more to find bliss.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.