South Austin Pho Restaurant Guide 2018

South Austin Pho Guide • Cook Love Heal

South Austin Phở Restaurant Guide!

Welcome to the South Austin Phở Restaurant Guide! I’m featuring ten restaurants serving pho in South Austin for those of us that live and work south of the river, and for those visiting the city for festivals like ACL or SXSW, as part of the Austin Food Bloggers’ 2018 City Food Guide (#ATXBestEats).

A big fan of homemade soups, I have recently become obsessed with Vietnamese Pho–the perfect quick restaurant meal to enjoy any time of year. Pho is light, refreshing, and hydrating on a hot summer day— just add lots of fresh veggies (an option on every menu) and wait for it to cool a little before digging in! And on a cold, rainy day, pho is warm and comforting— believe me, you’ll have to take off your jacket after a few bites! Another plus to going out for pho is that most restaurants serving pho have a wide variety of other dishes (for those not as obsessed with pho as I am) such as Vietnamese vermicelli bowls, salads, spring rolls, curries, sushi, and/or standard Chinese dishes.

For the uninitiated, pho is a brothy Vietnamese soup typically made with a rich broth, rice noodles, and some kind of meat, that you top with fresh garnishes including cilantro, Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapeño slices, and lime wedges. Hot chile sauce and hoisin sauce are often offered as condiments to go with the pho. You can dip the meat in some sauce on a side plate or drizzle the soup with a little sauce. Pho is typically made with chicken, beef, or fish broth flavored with various aromatic spices such as ginger, clove, star anise, fennel seed, black cardamom and/or clove. Many restaurants in Austin also serve pho with vegan broth, which I have notated with a (V) next to the restaurant name.

Pho With Us (V)

9900 S IH 35 Frontage Rd #500, Austin, TX 78745 (map)

512-373-3249

Newly opened, this family owned and operated restaurant in Southpark Meadows is a real find. Pho With Us opened its doors in December 2017, and has a clean, bright, and warm atmosphere. They serve various kinds of pho (beef, chicken, or vegan broths– all were exceptional) and the most bright and plentiful veggies we have seen– just ask to add veggies to any bowl for a small charge. We had the opportunity to speak with Chef Chau Ro (who has been cooking professionally for 24 years and also opened Dong Nai on South Lamar) and the manager Paul (her soon-to-be son-in-law) who were both friendly, welcoming, and passionate about their new restaurant and its authentic cuisine. 

Chef Chau Ro and Manager Paul of Pho With Us
Chicken pho with extra veggies at Pho With Us in Southpark Meadows

Me Con Bistro

3421 William Cannon Drive Ste 101, Austin, TX 78745 (map)

512-899-2390

“Me Con” or “Mother and Daughter” Bistro bases its menu on authentic recipes from their mother. One of the closest pho restaurants to our house, we also think it is one of the best in South Austin. The service is always excellent and all the dishes we have tried have been great (pho, daily specials, curry dishes). Their vegetable pho uses chicken broth, so unfortunately no vegan pho, but they do have vegan options for other meals.

Pho with extra veggies at Me Con Bistro

Dong Nai

4211 South Lamar Blvd #E1, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

(512) 444-1593

Owned by the same folks as the new Pho With Us, Dong Nai is located in the strip-mall near Target  and has a loyal following. We went on a cold weekday and it was packed with people busily eating on their lunch hour. Service was friendly and quick. I’ve got an inquiry out to them about vegan options. I wasn’t able to tell from their menu if they have a vegan broth.

Pho with extra veggies at Dong Nai

Pho Please (V)

1920 East Riverside Drive D140, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-354-9779

I took my family here last summer when I was getting over a cold. We were there on a weekday for lunch and it was very busy (but yet no wait) with a mix of families, students, and professionals feasting on pho and other noodle dishes. The atmosphere was lively, clean, and bright. They serve chicken, beef, shrimp, and vegan pho options, and were happy to accommodate my request of chicken broth, no chicken, and lots of vegetables.

Het Say (V)

2121 E. Oltorf St. #12B, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-443-4232

“Het Say” or “Beyond Words” is located in a strip mall on East Oltorf where you are greeted by knowledgeble and friendly staff. They offer seafood (shrimp, fish balls, squid, imitation crab), 100% vegetarian broth (with tofu, broccoli, napa cabbage, mushrooms, carrots), and various beef and chicken versions of pho.

Chicken pho with extra vegetables at Het Say

Elizabeth Street Cafe (V)

1501 South 1st Street, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

512-291-2881

Elizabeth Street may be better known for their baked goods, fancy appetizers, and bahn mi, but they also offer unique, less conventional pho  (such as Cauliflower, Bok Choy, White Miso & Toasted Seaweed; Red Snapper; or Pork Belly, Meatballs & Soft Boiled Peeler Farms Egg) with broths made from fish & shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, or just vegetables.

Pho Thaison (V)

3601 W William Cannon Dr, Ste 250, Austin, TX 78749, 512-892-8777 (map)

161 W. Slaughter Ln. #L850, Austin, TX 78748, 512-280-2060 (Southpark Meadows) (map)

These are the two South Austin locations of the Austin-based chain. Their pho comes with either the standard beef and chicken or a vegan broth. In addition to pho, they offer Asian staples such as curry, sushi, and spicy Singaporean dishes. We like to take our daughter and her friends here because they have something that each person will like. Check out AFBA blogger Suzanna Cole’s review of the Southpark Meadows Pho Thaison from a few years ago.

Other Pho Restaurants in South Austin I haven't had a chance to try:

888 Pan Asian Restaurant

2400 E Oltorf St #1A, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-448-4722

Hai Ky

1931 E Oltorf St B, Austin, TX 78741 (map)

512-693-2464

Kim Phung Restaurant – Riverside

4001 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 (map)

512-494-5666

No MSG, hormone-free meats, no vegan broth option.

Simply Pho House (Bee Cave)

12918 Shops Pkwy, Austin, TX 78738 (map)

(512) 263-8889

I haven’t had a chance to try this place, but would be worth a try if you’re out near the Galleria. They have beef, chicken, seafood, and vegetable (with chicken broth) versions of pho– no vegan pho options as of yet. In reviews on the web, someone mentioned that they don’t automatically serve the standard pho garnishes (cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeños, etc.), so would be good to ask for them when you order. They offer a wide variety of Asian dishes besides pho, so good place to take the family or a large group.

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice

Brown rice is flavorful and delicious when made in the macrobiotic style. First the rice is washed and scoured, then soaked for a minimum of 6 hours. Then the rice is cooked in fresh water over low heat with sea salt or kombu until rice is simmering. Next, the rice is boiled at medium-high heat, turned to low, and cooked with a heat diffuser or flame tamer for 50 minutes more. Lastly, keep the lid on the pot for 15 minutes after the heat is turned off. The rice will continue to steam. This sounds like a long time to cook rice, but this method ensures that the rice is fully cooked and chewy rather than crunchy and unevenly cooked! See video below for more instruction.

Delicious Macrobiotic Brown Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Grain
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic short or medium grain brown rice
  • spring or filtered water
  • pinch unrefined sea salt or 1 inch square piece kombu
Instructions
  1. Measure rice into glass bowl and wash with filtered water three times. Scour the rice with your hands to remove dust and debris with each wash. After third wash, drain completely and pour in 3 cups fresh water. Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight, covered with a plate or towel.
  2. Drain soaking water into a measuring cup and note amount of water. Discard soaking water and measure the same amount of fresh water.
  3. Transfer rice to heavy-bottomed pot with heavy lid. Add measured fresh water and pinch of sea salt or kombu. Put lid on pot, turn flame to low and let cook gently 15 minutes.
  4. Turn heat to medium-high until rice is boiling, then turn back to low, place flame tamer (heat diffuser) underneath pot, and simmer for another 50 minutes without removing the lid.
  5. Turn off heat and let rice sit covered for about 10-15 minutes before opening pot.
Variation
  1. Add ½ cup toasted, chopped pecans sprinkled with shoyu or tamari to cooked rice.

 

White Sushi Rice

Making sushi rice is an art. I am still learning how to perfect it. This recipe works really well for making nori rolls, sushi, and rice balls. It lacks the sugar and preservatives that fast-food sushi contains, but is perfectly sticky (not mushy) and flavorful. Good luck making your first sushi rice! Soon I will post a recipe for a simple nori roll.

White Sushi Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The first step to making delicious nori rolls is making a perfectly seasoned and pefectly sticky sushi rice!
Author:
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic white sushi rice
  • spring or filtered water for rinsing rice
  • 2¼ cups spring or filtered water
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Start by rinsing the rice to remove some of the starch. Place rice in small to medium saucepan with a lid. Add enough water to cover rice by about an inch. Swirl water around until water becomes cloudy. Drain out water using fine meshed strainer.
  2. Add 2¼ cups spring or filtered water and sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When bubbles first appear, stir the rice with a wooden spoon and place lid on pot.
  3. When at a full boil, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and keep pot covered for 20 minutes. This gives the rice a chance to steam and absorb all of the cooking liquid.
  5. Transfer rice into a large bowl. Mix together umeboshi vinegar and brown rice vinegar in a small bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice, cutting it into the rice with a rice paddle or wide wooden spoon, fanning as you go with a plastic lid or fan. Rice will cool quickly when using this method. Do not stir the rice, as it will become mushy.
  6. Set aside and cover with a damp towel until ready to use.

 

Healthy and Delicious Spring Rolls

Mmm… what could be more refreshing on a warm day than a light veggie spring roll with a tasty Almond Butter Dipping Sauce?
Spring rolls are best eaten right away, as they can either dry out or tear if refrigerated for more than a few hours.
Save extra filling ingredients and store in a glass container in the refrigerator to make more fresh rolls the next day.
This particular recipe is dedicated to my friend Lindy who was kind enough to give me an authentic Vietnamese spring
roll making lesson many years ago. She likes to make them full of spring mix and fresh herbs, like the ones I made below,
rather than the ones you often find at restaurants that are full of noodles and little specs of veggies.

Healthy and Delicious Spring Rolls
 
A fresh and light spring roll filled with vegetables. Quick to make, yet filling and delicious. For a variation, try adding a layer of chickpea hummus, pan-fried tofu, a ¼-sheet of toasted nori, or sautéed shiitake mushrooms over the basil and cucumbers for a heartier spring roll.
Author:
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces rice noodles or mung bean noodles
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 cups spring mix
  • ¼ cup organic fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup organic fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup organic fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 avocado, cut into thin, wide strips
  • round rice paper spring roll wrappers
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add noodles to boiling water and turn off heat. Let sit for a few minutes until noodles are soft, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Lay all ingredients out for assembly; noodles, carrots, cucumbers spring mix, herbs, avocado slices, and spring roll wrappers.
  3. Prepare a large bowl or plate with warm water. Water does not need to be hot but warm enough to soften rice paper and the bowl wide enough to fit a sheet of rice paper
  4. Take one sheet of rice paper and soak it in warm water until it is pliable, about 10 seconds. Spread the wrapper on a large plate or other clean surface. Work quickly so rice paper does not fall apart.
  5. Place a large basil leaf vertically with 3 cucumber slices to the right of it (stacked vertically) in the middle of the spring roll wrapper. Place a layer of avocado, noodles, carrots. Sprinkle with spring mix and cilantro and/or mint leaves, making sure that 1 inch of rice paper remains visible on the edge closest to you and on either side of the ingredients. Be sure not to overfill spring roll.
  6. To wrap, bring up the lower lip of the rice wrapper and wrap around the ingredients, tightening slightly as you tuck and roll the wrapper. Fold in the sides to enclose the filling then continue rolling the wrapper. The rice paper will seal itself. Set aside to rest with space in between rolls.
  7. Continue wrapping spring rolls until all ingredients are used up.
  8. Serve with a dipping sauce such as spicy peanut or almond butter sauce or basil pesto.

DSCF7934

Almond Butter Dipping Sauce

I created this recipe to use at “foodie week” at my daughter’s summer camp last year.

The children learned how to make Healthy and Delicious Spring Rolls, Almond Butter Dipping Sauce, and homemade smoothies, which they served out of hand-made “food trucks” to the parents at the end of the week.

Below is the recipe for the dipping sauce, which is creamy, tangy, and a little salty. Enjoy!

Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
 
Author:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup almond butter, Once And Again brand recommended
  • 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons spring or filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons tamari, Eden brand recommended
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and sugar is dissolved