Pho, properly spelled is really phở but since most of us won’t write it or search for it with the Vietnamese accents it shall be written pho. Properly pronounced one would say “fuh.” Pho is a Vietnamese broth highlighted with cinnamon, clove and star anise, served with rice noodles, thin cuts of meat, herbs, bean sprouts, lime and optional hot sauces and hoisin sauce.
Which are the top pho restaurants in Baltimore? These are my top five choices listed in alphabetical order. Know that I have eaten beef pho at each and every one of these restaurants, so the listing is based on my preferences with a look to Yelp and Urbanspoon for the public’s rankings. At the bottom of my listing is my honorable mention – the ½ star in my ranking of the top 5 ½ bowls of pho in Baltimore.
The accompaniment plate of bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeno, fresh Thai basil and lime just vary, even at the same restaurant. Some have the cilantro already in the soup, some serve it separately. I’ve gotten lemon instead of lime, no basil, no cilantro, no culantro even though the menu calls for it. Some condiment plates are brimming and others have less considering only one was dining.
Baltimore’s Top 5 ½ Pho Restaurants
Pho Pasteur located in the 40 West Shopping Center has an excellent rating through Yelp and Urbanspoon sending it to the top five Pho in Baltimore. If I remember my pho genealogy, the owner of Pho Pasteur originally opened Pho #1 located at Westview Mall which was bought by the people who now also now own Pho Towson and Bar. The chopsticks and soup spoons were delivered with the soup, a personal preference of mine rather than them sitting out in group at the tables.
40 West Shopping Center
710 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228
Open Daily -10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Small Bowls – $6.50 Large Bowls – $7.50
Extra meat – $2
Pho Saigon is located in a small strip mall behind the Double T Diner on Rolling Road. New owners took over this year and changed the name to Pho Real but there seemed to be another restaurant in Maryland with the same name so they changed it back to Pho Saigon. The kept the original chef and spruced up restaurant. What I found unique in my pho was the brisket had a nice depth of flavor, well roasted. Condiments, chopsticks and spoons are on a tray at each table. The next time back I’m curious to try the salad goi ngo sen – shrimp and lotus root. Pho Saigon has garnished 4 ½ start from Yelp.
1116 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228
Open Daily – 9 am. to 9 pm
Small Bowls – $6.75 Large Bowls – $7.75
Extra meat – $2
Pho Thanh Cong is probably the newest of the Vietnamese restaurants to open. Tucked away in the Mars Supermarket Shopping Center it is a true winner in my opinion. It has more of a restaurant feel, staff seems friendlier and it is definitely a family affair. Tables are plastic covered lace, coconut peanuts are a nice little amuse bouche and I indulged in the lemonade with the dried plums. No numbers on the tables and flatware, chopsticks and soup spoons were delivered to the table. Café du Monde cans line the wall behind the register spoke volumes about their Iced/Hot French coffees with condensed milk. They hold the highest ranking of the pho restaurants on Urbanspoon for Baltimore. Thanh Cong translates “to prosper.”
Pho Thanh Cong
9613 K Harford Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21234
Open Daily : Mon – Thurs 11 am to 9 pm, Fri & Sat 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Small Bowls – $6.99 Large Bowls – $8.50
Extra meat – $1.50
Pho Towson & Bar is located off the Baltimore Beltway on Cromwell Bridge Road in the Best Western. These are the same folks who own Pho #1 in Westview Mall. A bit fancier than the standard pho restaurants, this is the main restaurant for the Best Western. The floors are carpeted and there is actually a full bar just inside the lobby that Pho Towson runs. There are numbers and condiment jars on the table but chopsticks and spoons are delivered with the soup. Portions are generous and they have gained a strong following in a short period time. Yelp and Urbanspoon both offer up high rankings.
Pho Towson & Bar
1100 Cromwell Bridge Road
Towson, MD 21286
Open Daily: Sun-Thur 11 am to 10 pm, Fri & Sat 11 am to 11 pm
Small Bowls – $8 Large Bowls $9
Extra meat – $3
Pho Van is tucked away in a semi deserted strip mall. It has gone under another name of Pho Nam. Without doubt I loved the richness of the pho broth. There is nothing fancy at Pho Van, numbers at the table, condiment bottles and jars sit out. I aim to go back and try the marinated quail and lemongrass chicken and the salty lemonade. Remember as I noted below they are CASH ONLY. I highly recommend their pho.
Pike Park Plaza South Shopping Center
6477 Baltimore National Pike
Baltimore, MD 21228
Open Daily: 9 am to 8 pm
Small Bowls – $6.75 Large Bowls $7.50
Extra meat – $1.50
Honorable Mention ½ Star
Saigon Remembered has recently reopened in Cockeysville. They had originally been down by the Senator Theatre on York Road for a number of years. It is more a Vietnamese restaurant than a pho restaurant. Selections on the pho are limited. I’ve been twice for the pho and rank the richness of the broth high. Condiments, sauces, chopsticks and spoon are brought to the linen covered tables. The also offer Bahn Mi sandwiches at lunchtime which has me ordering both and taking leftovers home.
Cranbrook Shopping Center
584 Cranbrook Road
Cockeysville, MD 21030
Open Tues – Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Closed Mondays
Lunch Bowl: $7.95 Dinner Bowl $9.95
For Dara Bunjon if it is food, Dara Does It, in fact, that is the name of her company which offers creative solutions for the food industry the likes of public relations, marketing, social media, cookbook compilations, food styling, culinary events, networking and freelance writing. You will now find Dara applying her broad range of culinary skills as a food stylist for television chefs/cookbook authors the likes of Steven Raichlen, Sara Moulton, Nick Malgieri, and Nathalie Dupree. Dara Bunjon lives, eats, dreams and writes about food and isn’t hesitant to share her views and experiences about restaurants, culinary trends, recipes, cookbooks or even her childhood food memories. She has been on the food scene for too many years to mention. Known both in Baltimore and nationally, Dara Bunjon is a former member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs’ national public relations committee.
In the past, she has written for Style Magazine, Foodservice Monthly, Mid-Atlantic Restaurant Digest, Urbanite and other sundry publications. Since 2004 she has maintained an award-winning food-related blog called Dining Dish. She co-authored her first cookbook Yum! Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats in association with Studio Spear. And has written Baltimore restaurant reviews for Gayot.com
Dara believes food is subjective; everyone’s taste is different and she enjoys bringing you to her table to commiserate and enjoy lively discourse.
Considered one of Baltimore’s food influencers, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @daracooks.