Cheap Eats 2007: Pho 88

There’s only one dish worth talking about at this well-lighted cafe on a busy stretch of Route 1. But that dish—the pho—is so good it’s enough.

Begin with the broth, which is richer than most, with every bit of beefy goodness coaxed from the oxtails that cook for up to 12 hours. Perfumed with star anise, ginger, and cinnamon, and garnished at the table with a shot of lime juice, a squeeze of Sriracha, and a few tears of holy basil, the result is an intoxicating brew. A tangle of vermicelli sits at the bottom of the bowl, and you can customize your order—available in two sizes—by requesting various slices of meat and offal. To diners who might blanch at the likes of beef tendon and tripe, a word of advice: Ignore them if you like, but at least allow their flavors to enrich the broth.

Pho is the perfect antidote to a cold—it’s dubbed Vietnamese penicillin—a source of comfort on a gray day, and a nourishing meal for less than the cost of a matinee movie.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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 Logan Circle.