Why go: These cafeteria-style pho parlors are short on variety and long on quality. That’s because they emphasize one dish—the elixir-like Vietnamese beef soup, a marvelous concoction of anise-perfumed broth, a tangle of rice noodles, and an array of beef cuts all floating in a bowl.
What to get: Pho with fatty brisket, flank steak, or meatballs, or with various bits of offal (numbers 3, 5, and 9); fresh-squeezed lemonade and lemon soda; dark Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk to drink hot or cold as dessert.
Best for: Anyone with a cold—not for nothing is pho called Vietnamese penicillin—or in need of a pick-me-up.
Insider tip: A regular-size bowl is more than enough for the average diner. Squirts of fish and hoisin sauce, leaves of holy basil and mint, and a spritz of lime—thin-sliced onions are available for 50 cents, and tart sawtooth, an herb, can be had on request—all enhance the fragrance and taste.
Open daily 9 to 8.
>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here